Year after year, consumers expect to be wow’d by Apple. So when the company falls flat on producing something of extreme excitement, it is far more noticeable. Therefore, it is too easy to spot design choices that sacrifice accessibility instead of enhancing progress.
The iPhone 7 is certainly worth the money, especially if you’ve always been an Apple fan and love the idea of the latest trends. But it’s not as effortlessly usable as previous iPhones.
Apple revealed a new color choice for the iPhone 7 during it’s annual Key Event in September. A brand new, shiny jet black. As beautiful and elegant as this new design is, it scratches and picks up fingerprints like crazy. The jet black so demanding that there is even a disclaimer on the website noting how easily it is scratched. You’ll likely want to keep a case on this particular color at all times, which defeats the purpose of having such a beautiful color.
The choice of elegance vs. usability is a theme that runs throughout the other features of the iPhone 7. The home button is a great example. It is no longer a button at all. Apple switch out the physical button for a capacitive pad. The Taptic Engine, a magnetic vibrator that can give the illusion of a click, makes the entire bottom portion of the phone feel as though it is clicking. The change does keep the phone water- and dust-resistant, which is great. It’s a cool new approach to a button, but it is certainly not a button. It’s not as instantly understandable or actionable. Yes it is functional and elegant, but it is not as usable as hoped.
The big talk of the iPhone 7 was of course the missing headphone jack. Apple removed it, claiming the space saved could lend itself to other needs. As a result, the company is pushing for wireless headphone. Apple also offers wired ones that can plug in using their proprietary Lightning connector, but either option are additional expenses.
Another nod to design over usability is the phone’s size and shape. The large bezels above and below the screen prove for lots of wasted space. Sure, the space has gotten smaller with each design, but companies like Samsung have been able to increase their screen sizes and shrink their bezels. A bigger screen in a smaller form creates more usability, but Apple hasn’t made that move.
Similarly, Apple hasn’t upgraded the pixel density of the screen in years. Apple has held onto the 1334 x 750 display, equaling 326 pixels per inch (ppi). The lower pixel density means you can’t use your iPhone with a 3D viewer like Google Cardboard which doesn’t prove to be a problem immediately.
The iPhone 7’s camera is incredible, making any hesitation about the design and usability a thing of the past.
Apple introducing optical image stabilization to the iPhone 7, and enhanced the quality of its digital image processing. These two changes allow photos to look as realistic as possible.
The Apple iPhone 7 also features a 12-megapixel sensor and an f/1.8 aperture. The digital image processing is what makes this camera a stand-out. Images are sharp, colored beautiful and even look great in low-light.
The A10 Fusion is a highly optimized phone processor. With the quad core processors, Apple has established two for high-functioning applications like gaming, and the other two processors are reserved for more mundane tasks such as email or surfing the web. The great part about this, is that while the two lesser processors are not as powerful, they also don’t take away as much battery. The iPhone 7 knows when to use each set, so there is no need to worry that you’re using more power than you should for any task.
The phone’s 2GB of RAM and iOS 10’s optimizations keep things quick and responsive. The storage size of the basic Apple iPhone 7 model starts at 32GB, then 128GB and finally 256GB.
Two notable improvements make the iPhone 7 the longest-lasting iPhone ever. The larger physical battery cell and optimized processor cores make this possible.
Apple claims the larger battery was able to be incorporated as a result of the removal of the headphone jack. The iPhone 7 made it nine hours three minutes in a web browsing battery test. By comparison, the iPhone 6s made it to only six hours 46 minutes.
The Apple iPhone 7 is certainly a top-of-the-line device. There’s no better camera or faster processor in the world right now. The much-extended battery life is an absolute lifesaver.
But it’s far from perfect. Those imperfections are more pronounced in the iPhone 7 than in any previous models. You might notice that odd buzz-click from the Taptic Engine whenever you press the home button. You’re going to miss the absent headphone jack. You will almost certainly scratch up your jet black finish no matter how hard you try to keep it pristine.
While those factors may not be deal breakers, perfect phone wouldn’t make you accept them in the first place. And as always, consumers look to Apple for perfection.