iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are smartphones designed, developed, and marketed by Apple Inc. They were announced on September 7, 2016, at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco by Apple CEO Tim Cook, and were released on September 16, 2016, succeeding the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus as the current flagship devices in the iPhone series. Apple also released the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus in numerous countries worldwide throughout September and October 2016.
The iPhone 7's overall design is similar to the iPhone 6S, but introduces new color options, water and dust resistance, a new capacitive, static home button, and removes the 3.5 mm headphone jack. The device's internal hardware also received upgrades, including a heterogeneous quad-core system-on-chip with improved system and graphics performance, and upgraded 12 megapixel rear-facing cameras with optical image stabilization on all models and an additional telephoto lens on the iPhone 7 Plus model to provide enhanced zoom capabilities.
Reception of the iPhone 7 was mixed. Although reviewers noted the improvements to the camera, especially the dual rear camera on the Plus model, they also stated that the iPhone 7 did not make significant changes to the display or build quality, where competing flagship smartphones surpassed the quality of the iPhone 7. Many reviews highlighted the controversial removal of the 3.5 mm headphone jack; some critics argued that the change was meant to bolster licensing of the proprietary Lightning connector and the sales of Apple's own wireless headphone products, and questioned the effects of the change on audio quality. Apple was also mocked by critics for its statement that the change required "courage".
The iPhone 7 has been the subject of several reported issues, most notably a hissing noise during heavy usage of the phones and significant differences in performance between device variants. Apple has not released sales numbers for iPhone 7, but multiple U.S. carriers reported that it was in high demand on launch. Subsequent reports at the end of 2016 stated that Apple had reduced production of the models due to "sluggish" sales and decreasing demand, though sales research after the first quarter of 2017 placed the devices as the best-selling smartphones in the world.
Prior to its official announcement, multiple aspects of the iPhone 7 were heavily rumored. Apple's plans to remove the 3.5 mm headphone jack received significant media attention. Other rumors included a flush camera, stereo speakers, a thinner Lightning port, a 256 gigabyte storage option, and a larger 3,100 mAh battery.
On August 29, 2016, invitations to a press event at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, California on September 7, 2016 were sent out to members of the media, prompting immediate speculation of the iPhone 7's upcoming announcement. The iPhone 7 was officially announced at that event, with pre-orders beginning September 9, and general availability on September 16.
iPhone 7 launched in 30 new countries later in September, with further international rollouts throughout October and November 2016. Indonesia was the last country to release the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, with availability starting on March 31, 2017, following Apple's research and development investment in the country.
On March 21, 2017, Apple announced an iPhone 7 with a red color finish (and white front), as part of its partnership with (PRODUCT)RED to highlight its AIDS fundraising campaign. It launched on March 24, 2017.
The iPhone 7's exterior is similar in shape and volume to iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S. Alongside the existing silver, gold, and rose gold colors, the device is offered in new matte black, "jet black", and red colors. The "jet black" color is a dark shade, high-gloss black finish. It is created through a multi-step process, beginning with an anodization phase to make the surface of the casing a porous aluminum oxide, and then using a machine to sweep the casing through a powdered compound, absorbed by aluminum oxide. The process is concluded with an "ultrafine particle bath" for additional finishing; the entire process takes less than an hour.
iPhone 7 is rated IP67 water and dust resistant, although tests have resulted in malfunctions, specifically distorted speakers, after water exposure. The warranty does not cover any water damage to the phone.
iPhone 7's home button uses a capacitive mechanism for input rather than a physical push-button, as on previous models, meaning direct skin contact (or a capacitive glove) is required to operate the device. Physical feedback is provided via a Taptic Engine vibrator, and the button is also pressure-sensitive. iPhone 7 retains the "3D Touch" display system introduced on the iPhone 6S, providing pressure-sensitive touchscreen input.
The iPhone 7 does not feature a 3.5 mm headphone jack; it was replaced by a second grille that houses the phone's new Taptic Engine vibration feedback system. A Lightning-to-3.5-mm-connector adapter, as well as in-ear headphones that use the Lightning connector, are bundled with the device, and the adapter is also sold separately as an accessory. The adapter is also compatible with other iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch devices running iOS 10.
iPhone 7 uses the Apple A10 Fusion 64-bit system-on-chip, which consists of two low-power cores and two high-power cores (only two cores are used at any point in time). The A10 chip also features a hexa-core graphics chip capable of "console-level gaming". As with prior models, iPhone 7 is available in two sizes: one with a 4.7-inch screen, and a "Plus" variant with a 5.5-inch screen. The displays have identical sizes and resolutions to iPhone 6S, but with a wider color gamut and increased brightness. The screen-to-body ratio is about ~66% and ~68% for the 7 and 7 Plus, respectively.
Both device variants also contain a new iteration of Apple's motion coprocessor, the M10. Unlike previous iPhone models, internal storage options for iPhone 7 begin at 32 GB instead of 16 GB, and max out at 256 GB. iPhone 7 Plus offers 3 GB of RAM, more than any other previous iPhone; the 4.7-inch iPhone 7 has 2 GB.
The iPhone 7 includes a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera with a quad-LED "True Tone" flash; its aperture was widened to f/1.8, and the standard-size phone model adds optical image stabilization – a feature that was previously exclusive to Plus models. The iPhone 7 Plus includes a second 12-megapixel telephoto lens, which can be used to achieve 2× optical zoom, and up to 10× digital zoom. The front-facing camera was upgraded to a 7-megapixel sensor with automatic image stabilization.
iPhone 7 ships with iOS 10 pre-installed. The iPhone 7 Plus received an exclusive portrait camera mode in the iOS 10.1 software update. This camera mode is capable of producing a bokeh effect using depth of field analysis.
Each iPhone 7 comes with a Lightning-to-3.5-mm adapter. Apple sells the adapter independently as well. Apple also unveiled several Bluetooth wireless headphones ostensibly intended for use with iPhone 7, including AirPods, wireless in-ear headphones, and three new Beats headphone products. All four products utilize an in-house wireless chip known as Apple W1, which is designed to provide low-power Bluetooth operation and integration with iOS and macOS products (though they are still compatible with other Bluetooth-supported devices).
Reception to the iPhone 7 was mixed. Gordon Kelly of Forbes noted that rival smartphones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S7, had increased battery life and added water resistance over its predecessor while retaining the headphone jack, and that the iPhone 7's camera photo quality was improved but still lagging behind some phones already on the market, including the Galaxy S7 and Nexus 6P. Kelly praised how Apple was able to extract improved brightness and accurate color reproduction from its LCD display panel, while noting that it was old technology which was also well behind rivals who had already moved to sharper 1080p or even 2K screens. The iPhone 7's exterior, which reuses the aging design of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S, was criticized, especially the size of the device, with Kelly writing that "the iPhone 7 Plus is simply far too big for a smartphone with a 5.5-inch display".
Nilay Patel of The Verge described the devices as being "full of aggressive breaks from convention" despite their design continuity with previous models (going as far as dubbing them "a prototype of next year's rumored drastic iPhone redesign disguised as an iPhone 6"), citing the headphone jack removal (which he felt was an attempt to encourage the use of wireless headphones), heterogeneous CPU, and home button redesign. The display quality was considered an improvement over previous models, albeit "not as insane" as the quad HD displays on competing phones. The Taptic Engine was considered the "first really valuable new UI concept I've seen on phones in years" (as opposed to the "gimmick" of 3D Touch), Patel felt that the cameras of the devices were a "step" above the 6S in terms of performance, and praised the dual-lens camera on the 7 Plus for enhancing the phone's camera functionality. However, he panned the lack of editing features that made use of them. In regards to the enhanced Bluetooth audio support provided by devices containing the W1 chip, he argued that Apple "took away an established open standard in favor of new technologies, but instead of making the experience of using those new technologies better across the board, it made every third-party wireless audio product a second-class citizen of the Apple ecosystem." Giving the iPhone 7 a 9 out of 10, he concluded that the devices were "legitimately among the most interesting, opinionated, powerful phones Apple has ever shipped, and the most confident expressions of the company's vision in a long time. iOS 10 is excellent, the cameras are better, and the performance is phenomenal. And the batteries last longer."
John McCann of TechRadar wrote that for the first time, the phablet-sized iPhone 7 Plus was "markedly better" than the smaller model. He highlighted improved battery life and praised the camera, calling the Plus' dual cameras "excellent" for point-and-shoot, and "much improved" for low-light performance. McCann wrote that the lack of a headphone jack was "initially frustrating", but noted that it was a "positive step forward for the mobile industry", despite the "short-term effects ... making the most noise for now".
Criticism of the iPhone 7 centered around the removal of the headphone jack, including the inability to use wired headphones with the included adapter and charge the device simultaneously.[note 1]
In a particularly scathing article, Nilay Patel of The Verge wrote that removing the headphone jack - "ditching a deeply established standard" - would be "user-hostile and stupid". He goes on to list reasons why removing the port is negative, concluding with "No one is asking for this" and "Vote with your dollars".
Gordon Kelly of Forbes noted that wireless audio technology was immature at the moment, with Bluetooth audio quality being inferior while Lightning audio reliability was still in question. The removal of the headphone jack meant "you’re being pushed into an era where you will have to pay more for decent headphones due to their need for an integrated DAC and/or Lightning licensing", and pointed out that "the only company to profit from this situation is Apple, who will now be charging licensing fees to millions of headphone companies".
In particular, Apple's vice president Phillip Schiller, who announced the change, was mocked extensively online for stating that removing the headphone jack took 'courage'. An online petition created by the consumer group SumOfUs, that accuses Apple of planned obsolescence and causing substantial electronic waste by removing the headphone jack, reached over 300,000 signatures.
Some users have reported a strange hissing noise during heavy usage of the phone. CNET reports it as "faint buzzes and hums coming from the backside". The Daily Telegraph speculates that the iPhone 7's new A10 Fusion processor is the source of the noise, linking to tweets that compare the phone's hissing sound to "hearing the fans spin up loudly whenever your Mac’s CPU gets used to its actual potential."
The Guardian reported in October 2016 that storage tests from "Unbox Therapy" and "GSMArena" showed the 32 GB iPhone 7 is "significantly" slower than the 128 and 256 GB versions, measuring data write speeds of 341 MBps on a 128 GB iPhone 7 model versus 42 MBps on a 32 GB model. October 2016 network tests by Cellular Insights showed that models A1660 and A1661 with Qualcomm modems had "a significant performance edge" over models A1778 and A1784 with Intel modems. Inspection of the modems also found that the Qualcomm version's ability to use Ultra HD Voice had been turned off, likely to "level the playing field between the Qualcomm, and Intel variants". The report concluded with the statement that "We are not sure what was the main reason behind Apple's decision to source two different modem suppliers for the newest iPhone." Bloomberg reported in November 2016 that tests by researchers from Twin Prime and Cellular Insights had shown the two modems to perform similarly on some U.S. cellular networks despite one of the modems being technically capable of faster connectivity. Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller told the publication that "Every iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus meets or exceeds all of Apple’s wireless performance standards, quality metrics, and reliability testing ... In all of our rigorous lab tests based on wireless industry standards, in thousands of hours of real-world field testing, and in extensive carrier partner testing, the data shows there is no discernible difference in the wireless performance of any of the models". Bloomberg quoted analysts and technology advisers who stated that "[Apple] don’t want one version to get the reputation that it is better" and that "This may not impact the fanboys, but it may make other consumers think twice about buying an Apple phone, especially if they think they might be purchasing a sub-standard product".
In a similar manner with the now-discontinued Samsung Galaxy Note 7, there have been reports of the iPhone 7 exploding or emitting smoke. In September 2016, one device reportedly exploded while in transit, while another one had a "malfunction that caused the battery to blow up internally". Another report about an iPhone 7 emitting smoke and "melting" was published in October 2016.
The iPhone 7's "This is 7" slogan has been misunderstood when translated to certain other languages. The slogan in China translates to "7, is here.", while it becomes "Exactly is 7." in Taiwan, and "This, is exactly iPhone 7." in Hong Kong. In the Cantonese language, the slogan becomes "This is penis", due to "seven" pronounced tsat, a slang for "penis".
In the iPhone 7, Apple added a software lock that prevents individuals from attempting to replace the home button on their own. Users are now required to go to an Apple Store to have repairs done, with "recalibration" of the button being necessary. This is a step further than Apple went with iPhone 5S, 6 and 6S, where only Touch ID functionality would get disabled but the "return-to-home" functionality still worked.
Apple has deliberately withheld pre-order sales numbers, citing that these are "no longer a representative metric for our investors and customers". Without releasing specific numbers, T-Mobile US stated that the iPhone 7 had broken the carrier's all-time record for first-day pre-order sales. The following weekend, T-Mobile US stated that iPhone 7 was its biggest iPhone launch ever, being "up nearly 4x compared to the next most popular iPhone".
On September 14, 2016, two days before the iPhone 7 went on sale, Apple announced that due to high demand, they had sold out of all "jet black" iPhone 7's, and all colors of the iPhone 7 Plus. This caused issues for customers in the iPhone Upgrade Program, who were unable to reserve new phones. After customer complaints and a class action lawsuit, Apple made changes to ensure members of the program could get new phones as soon as possible.
In May 2017, analytics research company Strategy Analytics announced that iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus were the best-selling smartphones worldwide during the first quarter of 2017, selling 21.5 million and 17.4 million units, respectively.
For the initial U.S. sales of the iPhone 7, all four major wireless carriers announced trade-in deals. Under the deals, the monthly installment plan cost of the iPhone 7 is negated by a monthly credit on consumers' bill, but consumers who cancel their service with the carrier or pay off the phone prior to the installment contract completion will not receive credits for the remaining months. Jacob Kastrenakes of The Verge noted that the deals effectively constituted a return to two-year phone contracts, in which the deals "essentially lock you into that carrier for two years".
In the wake of these deals, Verizon announced they had seen an increase in sales over the release of the previous year's iPhone 6S, AT&T said that sales had exceeded its expectations, and T-Mobile and Sprint announced "huge increases in sales", with T-Mobile seeing a demand roughly four times higher for the 7 than the 6.
In December 2016, DigiTimes reported that Apple had reduced production of the iPhone 7 because of decreasing demand for the product after the initial surge of interest waned. A reason cited was consumers and suppliers turning their attention to next year's iPhone model.
A new report from Nikkei at the end of December included details on sales and production of the iPhone 7. The report, "based on data from suppliers", stated that Apple would trim production of the iPhone 7 by 10% in the first quarter of 2017, following "sluggish" sales. Nikkei reported that Apple previously trimmed production of the iPhone 7 by 20% due to accumulated inventory of the previous model, but that the new models had "sold more sluggishly than expected". Additionally, the report notes that the "iPhone 7 Plus, which features two cameras on its back face, remains popular", but "a shortage of camera sensors has curbed Apple's ability to meet demand for the phones".
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