Apple has made some bold changes to the latest iteration of the iPhone, but, to the relief of most business users, it has retained a pathway to their legacy infrastructure. Of course, the new iPhone 7 is faster than earlier iPhones models, has more memory and it includes important improvements users have wanted for years.
While there’s a lot that’s new, the most important changes for people who depend on their phones for their livelihood are water resistance, a more rugged structure and the elimination of the headphone jack. Other important changes include a better camera, a much faster processor and more memory.
It may seem prosaic, but the improved water resistance may be the most critical for the majority of users. The new iPhone 7 meets IP67 standards for water and dust protection.
This means that the phone is completely sealed against dust and that it can be immersed in water as much as a meter deep without damage. To all of those who have lost communications on a business trip because their phone slipped into a sink or dropped into the toilet: You now have a path to salvation.
What’s important about the iPhone’s approach to water resistance is that it doesn’t depend on tiny rubber plugs and caps to maintain its integrity. The iPhone 7 is water-resistant on its own.
Apple has also moved to a stronger grade of glass for its screen and it’s eliminated the headphone jack, which both help with the handset’s durability and survivability.
The iPhone will now ship with a headphone that attaches through the Lightning port, and it will include an adapter for people who still have those old-fashioned headphones with a 3.5mm plug. It’s not clear whether devices such as credit card readers that attach using the iPhone analog jack will work with the adapter.
Standard memory is being increased on the iPhone 7 and, in an unusual move, the standard memory on the iPhone 6S, which will remain in production, is also being increased. Now, the smallest memory configuration is 32GB with options of 128GB and 256GB. Even with the additional memory, the starting price of the iPhone 7 remains at $649.
The new display on the iPhone 7 will have the same resolution as what is on the iPhone 6S and it will continue to have 3D Touch. However, the new display is said to be 25 percent brighter, with a wider range of colors and built-in color management. The wider color gamut is paired with the same capability in the new camera.
The camera reflects Apple’s longstanding effort to make photography an important part of their phones.
Apple Makes iPhone 7 More Rugged, Watertight Minus Headphone Jack
In this case, the new camera on the iPhone includes image stabilization on both versions of the phone, not just the Plus version, as in the past.
The new 12-megapixel camera uses a 4-LED flash and a lens with an f1.8 aperture for better low-light photography. The new camera allows RAW file capture, an image format that uses unprocessed binary data from the camera. This feature previously had been the domain of DSLR cameras.
The iPhone 7 Plus actually contains two cameras on the rear: one with a wide-angle lens and the other with a telephoto lens. This allows the phone to use optical zoom capability and use both cameras simultaneously for special effects such as a narrow depth of field.
Of course, the primary function of a smartphone is wireless communications—if only so you’ll have a better way to upload your cat videos. So a smartphone needs to keep communicating long enough to be useful.
To accomplish this, Apple has improved the radios in the iPhone 7 to support LTE Advanced, which in turn allows data transfer speeds of up to 450M bps. Right now only T-Mobile has a network that’s substantially built out to handle this speed, but the other carriers are working on it.
Battery life always has been an issue with recent generation iPhones, although it’s less of an issue with the iPhone 6S than it had been. The iPhone 7 uses its quad-core technology to reduce consumption by routing low-intensity tasks (such as checking email) to a pair of high-efficiency processors, while routing high-intensity tasks (such as gaming) to the high-performance processors. The GPU in the new A10 processor has reduced power consumption capabilities.
It’s no surprise that the new design also means new color options for the iPhone case. But that also means Apple has eliminated other color options. Space Gray and white are gone.
The five colors now available are silver, gold, rose gold, black and jet black. The jet black seems to be a premium offering, and those phones will only be available with 128GB and 256GB memory configurations.
The new iPhone 7 can be pre-ordered starting Sept. 9 with sales starting Sept. 16. But whether you move immediately to upgrade your iPhone depends a great deal on whether you need the features it offers.
This is especially true if your business depends on devices that require access to the analog jack, in which case the best approach is going to be to start small with a single iPhone 7 and see how the headphones and other accessories work with the Lightning port. While it should work, it may require some software adjustments before it actually works reliably.