Apple on Wednesday took the stage at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco to formally unveil its 10th generation iPhone.
What would otherwise be a momentous occasion has been somewhat marred in the lead-up by rumors that Apple would recycle the same general design for an unprecedented third consecutive year and perhaps more importantly, eliminate the 3.5mm headphone jack in favor of its proprietary Lightning port. Some have even suggested Apple will introduce a custom wireless standard to compensate for Bluetooth’s shortcomings.
The new iPhone 7 may not feature the revolutionary new design that everyone was hoping for early in the rumor cycle but of course, Apple isn’t having any of it. The first of 10 major features Apple touted is a “new design.”
New for the iPhone 7 is a camera body that’s sculpted out of the phone’s aluminum chassis, revised antenna lines that are less visible and a new color option in a high-gloss black finish crafted using a rather complex manufacturing process. In addition to this gloss black, there are also standard black, gold, silver and rose gold color options.
Apple has also reengineered the Home button, replacing it with a solid-state, force-sensitive version complete with Taptic engine (for haptic feedback). This, along with other improvements like new seals and adhesives, means the new iPhones are officially water and dust resistant (IP67 rated).
As rumored, Apple has once again improved the iPhone’s camera and included a secondary unit for the larger iPhone. Now, all iPhones come with optical image stabilization (previously limited to the larger Plus models) and an f/1.8 aperture lens that lets in 50 percent more light. There’s also a new six-element lens, a 12-megapixel sensor that’s 60 percent faster and 30 percent more energy efficient and a new flash with four LEDs that’s 50 percent brighter and reaches 50 percent further.
Powering the camera experience is an Apple-designed image signal processor with twice the throughput of its predecessor. Apple says its new ISP performs 100 billion operations every time you take a photo – all in just 25 milliseconds.
On the front is a larger 7-megapixel FaceTime HD camera (up from 5MP) with auto image stabilization and wide color capture.
The iPhone 7 Plus features a second 12-megapixel camera. With this configuration, one is mated to a wide-angle lens while the other is a 56mm telephoto lens. This allows users to have true optical zoom (up to 2x). While you can zoom in up to 10x, everything past 2x is done in software (meh). Apple says the software results are impressive but I’ll believe it when I see it.
The dual camera configuration also enables a new portrait mode that exhibits impressive looking depth of field. Unfortunately, this mode won’t be ready at launch but will instead be added later this year via software update. Again, this is only for the iPhone 7 Plus with the dual camera configuration.