(Photo credit: Anshel Sag)
It’s been a month since I got the Apple iPhone 7 Plus. Full disclosure, I have never owned an Apple product in my life. Okay, I had an iPod shuffle for about a week or two and ended up returning it. I had experiences with Apple computers as a child in a suburban elementary school but never owned an iPhone, iPad, MacBook or anything of the sort. I have been a lifetime Google Android user, and before that a Microsoft Windows Mobile user (yeah, I know). So, my first experience with an Apple product that I bought and used has been extremely interesting. That includes the utter shock and awe that came out of people’s mouths after I told them that I got an iPhone. I feel like a lot of the reasons why I never switched to Apple have gone away while others remain.
Why the iPhone 7 Plus
My primary purpose of buying an iPhone 7 Plus was Apple’s move towards a dual camera arrangement that promised to be the best camera, ever. In addition to that, the Apple A10 Fusion processor tickled the Android performance-obsessed side of me. For many years, I had observed Apple’s SoCs continually crush the competition in a multitude of benchmarks, and this proved to be Apple’s greatest leap in performance, especially with a 4-core arrangement. Apple also bumped the RAM from 2GB in the 6S Plus to 3GB in the iPhone 7 Plus, which should theoretically make multitasking even better and smoother on the iPhone.
For me, many of my oppositions in the past to getting an iPhone were centered around the user interface decisions, requirement to use iTunes, walled garden ecosystem, simplistic design and unwillingness to build a device larger than 5”. Since then, a lot has changed for the better with Apple, they are listening more to consumers and take their concerns and feedback into consideration when designing their devices. However, there were also things that I admired about Apple, like their meticulous attention to detail, unwavering commitment to security and their quality materials and components. Also, I liked the idea that if I ended up not liking the iPhone, I could always resell it without losing much money thanks to Apple’s strong resale value, something I could never get with my Android phones.
(Photo credit: Anshel Sag)
The iPhone 7 Plus was a device that took things to the next level for me, because Apple finally implemented a stereo speaker setup and officially added water resistance to their phones. Both things I was already quite used to with my previous Android phones and almost expected to be standard on most smartphones, including Apple. However, they didn’t necessarily do everything that I would’ve liked them to, like directly accessing pictures and videos on the device possible straight from your PC as if it were a USB drive, which you can with most Android phones. Additionally, Apple still lacks a notification LED for when it’s charging or when there’s a notification, so you don’t know what the status is without picking up the device.
The switching experience from Android to iOS was extremely smooth and easy. I didn’t even use the app that Apple provides to switch from Android to iOS, because I learned of its existence after I had already initially setup the phone. Even so, switching to iOS was extremely easy and essentially amounted to logging into all my Google accounts, and that was pretty much it. Because basically all the Google apps that I use daily are already on iOS, the transition was extremely smooth, and to this day I rarely feel that I’m missing anything by being on iOS. In fact, the only app that I genuinely sort-of-miss is Sync for Reddit, which is only available for Android even though there’s a plenty good iOS app as well.
Speaking of apps, I found the App Store to be a much more paid-heavy store than Google Play, but also much less ad-heavy. Once I downloaded the apps, I found some applications that were serial crashers on Android almost never crashed. In fact, on iOS it seems that apps don’t usually crash like they do on Android, they just lock up. For the first week, I was in app heaven, all my apps were running smoothly, and I had zero lockups or crashes. Eventually over the course of a month, I got a few lockups and crashes, but nothing anywhere near what I’ve experienced on Android devices. The most noticeable improvement was Snapchat, which not only didn’t crash, but also worked better in taking photos and videos than my Android phones (of which I have many).
I also cannot speak more highly of my experience with Force Touch, it takes some learning and exploring, but some applications like Instagram simply make Force Touch amazing. I wish more devices would have Force Touch, because I genuinely believe that it is the future of smartphone interfaces. In addition to Force Touch I recently used AirDrop, which was by far the fastest and most painless sharing of an audio file from one device to another that I have ever witnessed. It was shocking, really.
Of all the apps that I use on the iPhone, the one that is native that I use the most is the camera. Initially, I wasn’t that impressed with the camera due to its limited capabilities compared to say the stock LG V20 camera. However, Apple’s approach is more focused on delivering a consistent photography experience, one that can be depended on. It also is the first camera and camera app I’ve used where I can easily zoom all the way to max zoom and shoot photos all with one hand. For RAW photography and more complicated shooting scenarios, there are other applications available in the App Store including Adobe’s Lightroom app which has built-in RAW shooting, editing and processing inside the app.
The ability to zoom up to 10x has proven extremely valuable to someone like me who attends a lot of conferences. I also found it extremely useful during sporting events like the Packers vs. Bears game I attended at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The zoom experience is by far the smoothest I have experienced on any phone and is directly attributable to the dual camera setup on the iPhone 7 Plus. Additionally, Apple has just rolled out another dual camera feature, Portrait mode, which is still in beta, and I have had moderate success with. While it does create a ‘bokeh’ around the subject that you are taking a picture of, you are limited to only well-lit scenarios, and the effect seems somewhat unnatural at times. Perhaps it’s the lifetime photographer in me that is nitpicking, but some of the photos I’ve taken so far haven’t impressed me compared to my f/1.4 lens for my DSLR.
(Photo credit: Anshel Sag)
The other complaint that I had about the iPhone camera early on was that it locked up, a lot. Both before 10.1 and after 10.1, the camera locked up so much that I had to break out my Google Pixel or LG V20 to get a photo. Sometimes even force closing the camera app and opening it back up again wouldn’t fix the issue either. However, since the 10.1.1 update that came out a week after 10.1, the camera seems to no longer lock up, and I can enjoy the quick launch feature from the lock screen once again. Apple did a good job of addressing the issue, and I applaud them for being so responsive after 10.1 didn’t fix the issue. If you’d like to see more pictures from the iPhone 7 Plus, I have uploaded them in full resolution, unretouched to Flickr for your own viewing.
Attention to Detail
Apple’s attention to detail is visible in how they’ve implemented things like their Taptic Engine. I love the fact that you can choose how much the home button vibrates when you press on it or the fact that when your phone vibrates it makes a very short and strong vibration that cannot be mistaken for anything else. It doesn’t rattle in my cup holder like a bee but rather like something that should have my attention, even if its buried in my center console.
The color accuracy and sharpness of the display on the iPhone 7 Plus are stunning, it is by far one of the nicest displays I have laid my eyes upon. And I appreciate the fact that Apple isn’t trying to oversaturate the display to make it appear more vibrant either.
(Photo credit: Anshel Sag)
Apple’s attention to detail even extends into Apple’s accessories for the iPhone 7 Plus where the leather case for the iPhone 7 Plus is probably the best case I have ever used for a phone and happens to feel the most premium. The leather and the buttons on the iPhone 7 Plus case make it a must have for anyone looking to own an iPhone and don’t want to destroy their investment.
Room for Improvement
As always, all products have room for improvement. I think there are some features that I would love to see in the next generation of the iPhone that I think could encourage even more Android users to switch to Apple and iOS. One of those features is support for wireless charging. While not all Android manufacturers support wireless charging, I do believe that Apple could help wireless charging reach critical mass and help to potentially free up that lightning connector for headphones instead of a charging cable.
(Photo credit: Anshel Sag)
Since we’re on the topic of charging, I would like to see Apple adopt some form of rapid charging. I know that many people are going to say that it isn’t necessary on the iPhone considering the battery life, and they are probably right considering that I am writing this right now with 30% of my iPhone battery after having used it all day and streamed part of the World Series Game 7 on it. Apple doesn’t need much improvement in terms of battery life for the iPhone 7 Plus, but you won’t hear anyone complain if they continue to improve it. Even so, there are going to be days when you forget to charge your phone or you use it a lot and it ends up getting low. That’s when rapid charging becomes the valuable, and recharging a full depleted iPhone 7 Plus can take hours.
I also believe that Apple should make 64GB the standard capacity for the iPhone 7 Plus, since you are already paying a premium for the device. Most Android flagships are now shipping with 64GB as the standard capacity with or without a memory card slot. I foolishly purchased a 32GB model of the iPhone 7 Plus which means that I’m pretty much out of space after a month of taking photos and videos. 4K videos are out of the question at 32GB because they take up so much space. Another area where I would like to see Apple improve is improving the connectivity; the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus have 450Mbps modems which means no 4×4 MIMO or 256 QAM support. It would also help improve coverage and network performance. I suspect they will go 600 Mbps or even higher with the next generation, but it would be nice to have now.
In the end, I have enjoyed using the iPhone 7 Plus and am still using it as my primary device today. However, my commitment to things like Google Play Music and the Google app ecosystem still draw me back towards Android. This is the similar gravitation that you see many Apple users making after they’ve toyed with the idea of an Android device. The interesting part for me, however is that Apple when paired with Google services delivers a pretty good experience. I do lose some of my Google integration, but I gain other things as well.
I believe that I will continue to carry the iPhone 7 Plus as my secondary phone along with whatever Android device I am using as my primary at the time. The iPhone 7 Plus is by far the most attractive iPhone that I have ever seen Apple release that could cause Android users to switch. I believe that some users have already done so with the current market dynamics. Hopefully Apple finds new use cases for the dual camera on the iPhone 7 Plus and creates even more added value to the phone than it has already.