The Jet Black iPhone 7 looked virtually seamless as I held it at the T-Mobile store in Manassas, Va. It really was hard to tell where the glass ended and where the gleaming black aluminum case began. But I knew this version of the iPhone wasn’t for me.
“That one will scratch too easily,” I said to Jacqueline, the sales staffer who was saddled with the task of helping me buy an iPhone 7. She told me that they had sold out of the sleek Jet Black version anyway, but that she could sell me a regular black phone with a matte finish. That would do. In a few minutes, the iPhone 7 was mine and I headed back to the office to try it out.
It turned out that not much trying was necessary. The latest iPhone functionally is very similar to the iPhone 6s that preceded it and the learning curve was slight. The biggest part of the iPhone 7 that took some getting used to was the new home button. Or, perhaps I should call it a “home button-like screen area.”
Where there was once a physical button in the lower part of the screen that served as both the home button and the fingerprint reader, the button is now gone. In its place is ‘a recessed area on the glass’.
Press it and it will act like the home button did on previous models, except that instead of hearing and feeling a click, you’ll feel a brief buzz that Apple calls Taptic feedback.
The idea behind the Taptic feedback is that when you press the area, it’s supposed to feel as though you’d pressed a real button and thus confirm that you’ve pressed the button successfully. While it works, it doesn’t really feel as if you’ve pressed a button that clicked; instead, it feels like a brief vibration of the entire phone.
When you set up the phone, Apple’s installation software gives you a choice of three different sensations for the Taptic feedback. None of the three actually feels like a solid click, but you can choose what you like best and then at least know what to expect when you press the home button.
The use of a simulated button actually has a good reason. The new iPhone 7 is water-resistant, and having a large home button would be an obvious entry point for water. The new design avoids that, and eliminates the mad rush to get the phone under cover when it rains.
iPhone 7 With Faster CPU, Improved Camera Works Fine for Business
Once I got used to the buzz instead of a click, everything worked fine, although the phone’s response to the home button seemed a little slower than on the iPhone 6S. Outside of the home button, the iPhone 7 was clearly much faster with its A10 Fusion system on a chip with dual 2.34 GHz quad core processors than the iPhone 6s. Animations were very smooth and tasks that on older phones that churned away for many seconds ran much faster.
A good example you’re likely to notice took occurred when I restored the new iPhone from an encrypted backup on my computer. This time when I started the process, it was done in about eight minutes, which is better than twice as fast as when I performed the same task a year ago with the iPhone 6S.
The other big change with the iPhone 7 is the much-debated elimination of the headphone jack. As predicted, Apple includes a short (about 3 inches) Lightning to 3.5mm phone jack adapter cable. I tried it with a pair of Bose QuiteComfort 15 noise cancelling headphones, and it sounded fine.
Perhaps more important, the Square mag stripe reader used by a large number of small businesses that previously plugged into the headphone jack will work fine with the adapter, according to the Square mobile payment company.
Beyond those most obvious new features, the camera is better, with the front camera delivering higher resolution than was available on the 6s. However, when I took a selfie, there was nothing the iPhone could do to improve how I looked in the subsequent photo. The camera has optical stabilization, which worked well.
For routine business photography, such as photos taken for insurance claims or for recording of work done, the optical stabilization should reduce the number of retakes required for a good photo and also reduce the time required to generate photos for work assignments.
For more specialized work, the capabilities of the new iPhone could be important. For example, some television news reporting is already being done with iPhones instead of broadcast television cameras.
While an iPhone can never replace the optical quality of a commercial broadcast television camera, it can do for spot news reporting, especially given the new greater aperture of f/1.8, which, with optical stabilization, will allow the smartphone to produce better photos and videos under difficult conditions.
Whether those new features coupled with a faster processor and greater memory will bring enough value to your company to make it a worthwhile upgrade depends on what you need it for.
If all you need is a good smartphone with good app support, then you probably don’t need to move beyond the iPhone 6s. But some features such as its water resistance and improved features meet your needs, then it’s a nice upgrade without much of a downside.