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Since its inception, the iPhone has been a well-designed, meticulously produced and innovative product. The iPhone 7 is still a thing of beauty with its thin, strong body and its power and speed, yet this year’s model is lacking in innovation.

iPhone 7

Playing Catch-up with the Competition

In many respects, the iPhone 7 is just keeping up with the competition rather than leading it. This is evident in some of its new features. With the iPhone 7, Apple has added dual cameras and water-resistance. These are features that have already been shown in other brands like Samsung and LG. Although the screen resolution and color representation of the iPhone 7 is still impressive, others are now using slightly superior OLED screens. Although of good design, the iPhone 7 looks very much like the 6 and 6S. Other than the move of the antenna, adding a little sleekness, the is no big design improvement.

Beneficial Changes and Upgrades

Yet some of the changes are very beneficial to the end user. The camera bump found in previous models has been reduced. The processor has been significantly improved. With four cores, the phone is now very fast and responsive. The screen is slightly better in bright light than previous models.

Thankfully, with this model, Apple has done away with the 16 MB starting model. The storage options now start at a more feasible 32 MB.

For the first time ever, Apple has put stereo speakers into the iPhone. I was taken aback by how great these speakers sounded and was surprised by how much I had been missing good sound on a smartphone.

stereo iPhone 7

Major Changes

If you are a regular iPhone user, the first thing you will notice is that the home button has changed. While it looks pretty much the same, the feel when you press the button is very different. In my first few days with the new phone, I found this very disconcerting.  I still notice the difference every time I press the home button. Apple has tried to accommodate users by offering three slightly different feels for the home key. These can be found in the General Settings under Home Button.

homebutton iPhone 7

The second major change is one you have probably already heard about. Apple has removed the headphone jack in the iPhone 7’s. While Apple calls the removal of the headphone jack “courageous,” many mourn its loss. I personally feel that this is part of the move to wireless and have no regret over the loss of a technology that has been around since the switchboards of the 1800’s. To its credit, Apple has included an adapter to let you use your old headphones right in the box.

Cameras

While only the 7 Plus has the dual camera feature, Apple has included optical image stabilization in both the 7 and the 7 Plus. For those of us with shaky hands, this is a big plus.

The cameras on the iPhone 7 that I reviewed were both definitely better than previous versions. The rear camera has been improved for low-light conditions. However, getting back to the competition, the pictures from Samsung Galaxy 7 were very similar to the iPhone 7 pics. If you keep the settings at the default, the Samsung phone produced slightly more vivid pictures. If you are buying a phone to take a lot of pictures, you will want to consider the iPhone 7 Plus for it dual cameras and additional photo features.

Battery

I found the battery to be adequate for a normal 8-12 hours of use, with talk time averaging 7 hours. Yet it couldn’t compare to the battery life of the Samsung Galaxy S7 which gives me more than a day without recharging.

In my testing charging the battery was also slow. But then, I have been spoiled by the wireless fast charging of the Samsung Galaxy S7. Also, my iPhone 7 gets quite hot when charging.

iOS 10

The new iOS 10 operating system ads a lot to the iPhone 7. Some new features like Raise to Wake, which lets you quickly check on your phone without having to press a button are fairly obvious, but most are much less evident. You will have to do a little research to find out about all the new options, Any effort that you put into this will be highly rewarded.

iMessage has some great new features. You can now send a message in invisible ink, use full screen message animations, make easy emoji replacements, and give quick responses. There is even a new app store for iMessage.

Taking a page from Google Photos, Apple has dramatically improved the photo app in iOS 10. It now has excellent picture search and organization which is a joy to use.

Apple has also made other improvements. The music app has added features. Now you can even easily view the lyrics while listening to a song. You can now type in two languages at the same time without having to switch keyboards. iOS 10 has improvements too numerous to document here. To sum it up, iOS 10 is an excellent operating system, and it enhances the iPhone 7.

Apple Advantages

The 3D Touch that was introduced in the iPhone 6S continues to be an impressive feature on the iPhone 7. Now you can use it in more apps like Calendar, Weather, and Stocks to get a quick view of additional information.

Apple retains their biggest advantage. They have without a doubt, the best and widest selection of apps.

Disadvantages

After using other phones where the screen goes right to the edge like the Samsung Galaxy 7 Edge, the bezel around the iPhone 7’s screen seems extremely big, especially at the top and bottom of the screen.

There is plenty to like in the iPhone 7, but you often have to search for new features. I would like to see Apple do more to present the new features to users.

Conclusion

Although much of what Apple has done with the new iPhone 7’s are incremental improvements, they will be welcome by the avid Apple user. If you are using an iPhone 6S or 6S Plus you might be able to do without the extra speed and water-resistance. If, however, you are currently using anything older than that, you will at least want to consider the iPhone 7.

Sandy Berger, respected computer authority, journalist, media guest, speaker, and author, has more than three decades of experience as a computer and technology expert. Her eight books include: How to Have a Meaningful Relationship with Your Computer, Your Official Grown-up's Guide to AOL and the Internet, Cyber Savers –Tips & Tricks for Today’s Drowning Computer Users, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Better Living through Technology, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to the Internet, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Gadgets & Gizmos, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Online Health & Wellness, and Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Online Travel. Sandy’s newspaper column, magazine articles, feature stories, product reviews, and computer tips can be found at her website, Compu-KISS.