The review of the iPhone 7

You surely remember the surprise announcement about my brand new iPhone approximately 10 days ago! You will be glad to know that both the iPhone and the Android-fan boy survived the transition. Although it was quite a smooth one, I’m still learning the new way of doing things and also, making the most out of it. After investing nearly Rs30k in the 128 GB thing, you got no other choice than to comply to the rules set by Steeve Jobs & Co.

Now, get ready koz this gonna be a loooonnnggg post! I’ll be sharing essentially my views about the device and the difference between this device and other Android-powered ones.

Why the move to iThing ?

You are probably not the only one who have this specific question in mind. My decision to move to Apple surprised everyone, and even myself. I considered the option only when my wife suggested that I should buy an iPhone since my sisters grabbed theirs too during the past days. Why not? In fact, I have been thinking to purchase a new device ever since the screen of my HTC Desire 820 got a wide crack.

As I have been reading more and more reviews about Android powered smartphones, I realized that they were all practically the same. Manufacturers were constantly releasing new models with larger screens, more processing power and more RAM memory to differentiate themselves not only with the competitors but with their own previous models. Right now, there’s a probability that some new models of smartphones have even more RAM memory and processing power than your desktop / laptop!

There’s a point I particularly wanted to write about : Apple doesn’t get into the fight for the amount of RAM or capacity of their batteries fitted on their devices unlike other Android-powered brands. For instance, the newer One Plus 3T has 6 GB of RAM while the latest iPhone 7 is still ‘stuck’ with 2GB of RAM. Battery wise, the One Plus 3T (and other flagship devices) now have battery capacities of around 3000 mAH while the iPhone 7 has a 1900 mAH battery. None of these Apple Iphone 7 figures are displayed on any advert or even in their technical specification!

Software-wise, only flagship devices were getting upgrades to newer versions of Android, with manufacturer’s or network carriers degree of customization. Everyone want to do things differently and finally, we currently have up of hundreds of version of Android on the market. Technically, this is what people often refer to the fragmentation of Android.

As I said before, it was a tough decision to take but I chose to go for an iPhone because I also wanted to experience something new and discover if the hype around Apple products was indeed justified.

Why the iPhone 7?

Once the decision to buy an iPhone was finalized, the next tough decision to take was : Which iPhone? A very brief description of the models more commonly on sale :

  • Iphone 7 and 7 Plus
    Upgraded Iphone 6 with new processor (A10), stereo speakers, 2GB Ram and water / dust resistant ( without 3.5mm headphone jack)
  • Iphone 6s and 6s Plus
    An upgraded version of iPhone 6, new processor (A9) namely with 2 GB RAM.
    Please note that the original iPhone 6 is practically no more in sale. The iPhone 6 was an upgraded version of iPhone 5 but with a bigger form factor
  • Iphone SE
    Same hardware as 6s series but with the size (form factor) of the iPhone 5

Of course, there are other hardware upgrades, including screen, camera, weight and battery but I will be going through the details of the iPhone 7 only.

Since I was not particularly willing to have a very large screen, the tie was between the following 4.7 inches devices, namely the iPhone 7 and iPhone 6s, with a price difference of approximately Rs5k. I finally opted for the most recent one for various reasons, including the claimed better battery life, stereo speakers, IP67 water / dust resistant, and newer processor, in the matte black finish.

The device in brief

At this point of time, I should let you know that I cannot compare the iPhone 7 with none of my previous devices – HTC Desire 820, HTC One M7, HTC Chacha, Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro, Nokia N80, Nokia N73, Nokia 6600, Nokia 1100, Ericsson T10, Ericsson A2618, Motorola Talkabout, Dancall or the Nokia 3330. That’s indeed a long list of mobile phones I owned but the iPhone 7 is totally playing in a different league for several reasons, including the premium price tag.

Without going into any minute details about today’s device, I will say that it is feels solid and slim. Made up of some kind of aluminium, it is so slim that I have the constant fear that it falls down or from my pockets. Although I have already purchased a casing and a screen filter, it will probably take up to 1 month before it reaches my doorstep. Also worth mentioning, I have not noticed the device warming up during prolonged usage. Performance-wise, I have not noticed any lags or applications hanging during the past days.

Coming to the screen they called Retina HD Display, the result overall looks good. Rich colors, crisp and clear picture. No annoying fingerprints on the screen. Despite that iPhones aren’t fitted with Gorilla Glass, these devices are known to have very resistant screens. Let’s keep finger crossed! Just below the screen is found the circular “Home” button. In fact, no, it isn’t a real button. It neither moves nor pushed when pressed.. It feels like one but it is rather a fingerprint sensor behind their new Taptic Engine. One of the aims of this engine is to provide a tactile feedback when pressed, so that it feels like a physical button.

Fitted with stereo speakers, one at the bottom and one at the ear-piece, the sound is quite decent and loud. It still sounds like a smart-phone. The bundled earphone fitted with a lightening connector works good, even at the maximum volume limit. Additionally, a lightening to 3.5mm adapter is provided for those who wish to connect other earphones to their 7.

I have been very satisfied with the battery during the past days as it easily last long enough depending on usage. More than a day if you insist on knowing but once again, it all depends on how you use your phone. While going for an evening walk of 1 hour, the battery drops by only 4%, even with music playing aloud using the bundled earphones. The charging process is quite quick too, less than 2 hours to reach 100% mark but remember to buy extra lightening cables and charges if there isn’t any iPhone users around you.

The camera

Although Apple claims that iPhone is the most popular camera in the world, I have not been impressed, at least not so far. Fitted with Optical Image Stabilization, the device should deliver better pictures, especially in low light situations. I haven’t been uploading pictures on my Facebook recently but the few snapshots below should give you an idea of the quality of pictures :

Unlike other smartphone cameras, the iPhone 7 practically does not offer any other customization settings from switching HDR, flash, the Live option, the timer and lastly, applying filters (unless you download a third party app). However, if you want to shoot a “macro” picture, bring your iPhone close to the object, tap on it to lock the object and just shoot. Lastly, if you want to increase or decrease exposure (brightness), drag the yellow bulb besides the focus point.

The selfie camera is not so impressive despite that I love the idea of using the screen as a flash when shooting selfies. They called this the Retina Flash, lol. But, I have not used it extensively to really compare the results. One thing for sure, the front camera shoots ultra wide pictures. For comparison purposes, have a look below :

This selfie compilation not only gives you an idea of the selfie camera but it also shows how my hair has gone during the past 3 years. 

This selfie compilation not only gives you an idea of the selfie camera but it also shows how my hair has gone during the past 3 years.

 

I feel a bit lost when using “Photos for iOS”, the default photo /video handling app and I hope that I get used to it with time. However, photo editing is straight-forward and easy using the same app.

What is so different from Android?

Coming back to using an iPhone for the first time, it was a drastic change. To tell you the truth, I barely used the iPhone 7 as one would have expected. Once I unpacked the device, I just fitted my SIM into it, connected to the internet in order to create an Apple ID and completed the process. Late that night, I installed the basic Google Apps in order to be able to fetch mails and contacts, then downloaded the usual social networking / communication tools ( Facebook, WhatsApp etc).

Some of you might ask me, why Google Apps instead of Apple’s own cloud? Well, since this is my only Apple device, I don’t feel the need (yet) to move my things over to iCloud. I love having my gmail account in my gmail app instead of Apple’s Mail app and even for my phone contacts, they are still synced from my Google account. Even my pics are still on Google Photos and backups are done to Google servers too. Since web sites opened on my laptop using Chrome browser are easily accessible from the Google Chrome App on Apple’s iOS, files uploaded to Google Drive are readily available on iOS too, I don’t have to use the iCloud. If someone has more than one Apple device, it will probably make more sense to use Steeve Job’s Cloud.

The keyboard

Nothing was the same anymore. Even now, I am not at ease at all with the size of the keyboard. Despite having downloaded several keyboards from the Apple Store, I am still struggling to get used to the new keyboard. Practically all keyboards look the same. No additional buttons such as arrow keys which I find very useful when moving around text while typing. On iOS, you need to press on the text so that the region is magnified. This allows you to drag your finger to change the location of the cursor. Quite annoying.

Unlike in Android, iOS default keyboard does not offer you the possibility to swipe (or drag your fingers over the keys) in order to write words but you can achieve the same thing by downloading the Swype keyboard or GBoard (Google’s keyboard on App Store)

Where are those 3 buttons???

Why keep 3 buttons when you can do (practically) everything with only one? Well, iPhone’s sole Home button works as follows :

  • First tap / press : Go to home screen
  • Double press : Display all open apps.
  • Double tap : Lower the screen in order to access the buttons / menus at the top of the screen.
  • Three press : Configurable action.
  • Long press : Access to Apple’s voice assistant called SIRI

However, I greatly miss Android’s back button! However, iOS kinda re-invented the back button by placing it virtually on the top left corner of your screen if iOS feels that an application has opened another one.

The silent switch

I am not particularly a fan of it but this feature of the iPhone is pretty practical. A physical switch on the left side allows you to instantly set your device to silent or ringing mode. It saves you a few milliseconds and it simply does the job. Period.

3D Touch

On Android devices, you can either (1) tap an icon / menu / section of the screen or (2) press and hold to get access to the app or associated functionalities. On the latest iPhone 7 (and also, iPhone 6s), you can also press harder than usual to activate the 3D Touch. This action can trigger additional options to appear on the screen, depending on the app.

For instance, on the Facebook icon, you

  • Tap : Open Facebook
  • Press and hold : Activate the mode where you can move the icon around on the screen or uninstall the app
  • Press harder and hold : New set of menus enable you to post a status directly, as shown in the picture above.

SIRI…

Before saying more about her, I acknowledge that SIRI is intelligent and more attentive (sometimes, too much because she tends to listen to other people taking around you). Siri is good at recognizing your own voice and translate them into commands. She is more human in the way she responds to your requests, unlike Google Now. However, very recently, Google Assistant was launched and it is supposed to compete directly with SIRI

Siri recognized additional fun commands, for example “Call my wife” or “Call Dad”. You just need to define your relationships in your contact info. She does a lot more, for example, she even cracks jokes!

Security restrictions among applications

You probably used those applications usually sms you a security code in order to validate your account. For example, WhatsApp need that SMS to ensure that the phone number you registered is indeed yours. Well, on Android powered devices, these applications can automatically read the SMS to get that code. The user does not (usually) need to type that code. Things are different on iOS because of the security restrictions. I am not an iOS expert but normally, I understand that communication in between apps are quite limited. For this reason (or similar), the WhatsApp application cannot read SMS received because they are completely separated from each other.

To give you another example : When installing additional custom keyboards on Android, the new installation process automatically opens up the related settings so that the user can choose the new keyboard for use on the device. On iOS, apps can’t do the same thing. Instead, developers display the steps necessary to go to the settings menus to enable the keyboard.

Each app runs in its own world (sort of sandbox) in order to ensure that a critical error or a breach in that application does not propagate to other apps and the Apple device. This contributes to render iPhones for being stable, at least, this is what is usually claimed. Users cannot complain that applications are causing the device to crash because once you tap on your “Home” button (The only button in fact), control is somewhat granted back to the device.

No (fully functional) smart dialing

As an Android user, I was able to use the numeric dial pad to key in the name of the person I want to call so that the contact is automatically retrieved and displayed onto the screen. You will be surprised to learn that this is not available by default on any brand new iPhone you purchase. I really find it a shame that this functionality is not available on iPhones. You need to download third party apps in order to achieve that time-saving functionality or you should instead do a search in your contacts.

There’s still a problem. These third party apps can’t display a full call log. In fact, Apple has set restrictions whereby received or missed calls are not accessible to apps, except the dedicated “Phone dialer” app. Once again, this is a direct consequence of the restrictions I just mentioned in the previous section.

Accessing the upper section of the screen

This is a WIN on the iPhone : whenever you need to click on any item found on the upper part of the screen, just double tap the home button to slide down the screen. It is so practical! It ensures that you can continue using your device with only 1 hand.

The fingerprint sensor

Named as TouchID in the iPhone, the experience with the fingerprint sensor made everything so seamless. Once you register your fingerprints, you actually forget that each time you tap your Home sensor (“button”) to wake your device, the device is actually scanning your fingerprint to make sure that it is authorized. TouchID is also required at each time you switch on the device, when you download applications or even in some applications to make sure that only registered fingerprints can be given access.

Ever since I have been using it, there has been no complaints. In fact, to be sincere, there was one critical complaint from my wife : She could not unlock the iPhone… So, the only solution was to register her fingerprints too but some might ask me : Why put any security in that case? 😛

Transfer something over bluetooth AirDrop

You might probably be aware that iPhone owners can’t transfer anything to a non-iPhone user through the bluetooth connection. Yes, probably for security reasons. Apple went even further by creating a protocol called “AirDrop” for their users to enjoy the communicating and transferring data between themselves by using both bluetooth and WiFi technologies.

The last words

There are things that you can’t change when you move to an iPhone. No tweaking, no extreme customization, no way of changing default apps to open your pictures, videos or browser links. Not even widgets on your screens except on the dedicated area. You either abide by what has already been implemented or you leave (Apple’s world). Apple made it this way to ensure that their devices run smoothly at all times and millions of people are dying out there to grab the latest devices.  Okay, perhaps I’m exaggerating here but just to say that Apple has created a standard and they are the ones who define how their users should use their phones.

The end product :

A device which delivers the essential functionalities and services you need for a smartphone without compromising performance and battery.  So, This is 7 and I am not an Apple fan boy yet.

Hope that you enjoyed the review and in case you are thinking to move to an iPhone, please let me know ; )

Cheers!

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