I just escaped Apple's hectic hands-on area and I have some thoughts on the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.
As we all expected, the iPhone 7 bears a striking resemblance to the two iPhones that came before it. Most of the versions have the same aluminum body with the curved sides, but there's a new piano black version that is wildly glossy and surprisingly grippy. They all do share the same large top and bottom bezels with a big circular home button at the bottom, and of course they all still have camera bump — but this time the body of the iPhone curves up to meet the lens (or lenses). So you could argue that Apple is breaking its classic tick-tock cadence of radically redesigning the look and feel of the iPhone, but it looks like the jump in the internals is likely enough to warrant considering this an entirely new generation of iPhone.
And there is no 3.5mm headset jack. Instead, Apple wants you to buy the new AirPods in October — the room here in San Francisco is just lousy for them, with lots of people trying them on and pairing them up to different phones. We'll have much more on those in a different article. As for our feelings about the lack of a headphone jack: also better left to a different post. For now I'll just say that Apple's so-called "courage" in removing the jack and going wireless was in full display here: they are super eager for everybody to try the AirPods.
One thing I did get to try was the new camera on the iPhone 7 Plus. It's a 12-megapixel sensor with so much computing power behind it that it sort of boggles the mind. But this isn't the place to test either quality nor speed — both, in a well-lit room, are predictably excellent. But I did get to try out the optical zoom and it's 2X as advertised and it's actually sort of surprising how much of a difference that makes.
Read next: Our iPhone 7 and 7 Plus review
The new front-facing selfie camera is now 7-megapixels and it's really good. That's two years in a row that Apple paid attention to this vital sensor (seriously it matters!), and I'm glad they did.
Another thing I tried: the new home button, which uses a "taptic engine" to give you physical feedback when you press it — it's pressure sensitive, too, so it can tell if you really mean to press it or just tap it. And it's awful. On a MacBook trackpad, you get this uncanny feeling that you're actually hitting a button. On the iPhone, the whole bottom of the phone just sort of "kicks." It's not bad haptics like you remember, with weird vibration, it's just a new kind of bad haptics. It doesn't feel like a button at all. It's a bummer.
The press of humans in Apple's hands-on area is intense — so it's difficult to really spend enough time to get a feel for the new A10 Fusion processor — but of course it seems fast. I ran around the room to catch a glimpse of as many finishes as possible, though. The piano black, as I said, ridiculously glossy and very probably a fingerprint magnet, but it doesn't seem too slippery. The matte black finish is much more impressive to me. I do think that the body curving up to the cameras isn't that pretty, but I also imagine that's a matter of opinion.
Apple says that these phones are water and dust resistant, (finally) have stereo speakers, and also have the longest battery life of any iPhone thanks to the new A10 Fusion processor inside.
As for the basic feel, well, they feel like iPhones. The iPhone 7 Plus still has that surfboard quality, the smaller iPhone 7 still feels just right to me. The screens on both of them are as impressive as Apple is saying — though of course in this hectic, semi-controlled environment everything Apple has to show you is going to look great with the screen brightness cranked up.
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