iPhone 7 review roundup: Great, but won’t put a ding in the universe

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jet black iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus
Yep, this Jet Black option is going to cause some issues.
Photo: Apple

The first iPhone 7 reviews are starting to trickle in. The verdict? The things you thought would annoy you probably will (like the disappearing headphone jack), but the big camera and battery upgrades are every bit as good as you’d hope.

Oh, and Apple’s new jet black color seems like it’s going to lead to its fair share of criticism — even if everyone is being very nice about it right now.

Check out our roundup of the early iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus reviews.

TechCrunch

TC‘s Matthew Panzarino gives the iPhone 7 a positive review, and particularly praises the device’s camera as, “probably the best portable [camera] ever made.”

Testing a jet black iPhone 7, Panzarino notes:

“My iPhone 7 review unit definitely shows fine scratches and abrasions after a week or so of sliding it in and out of my pocket with various other items like the AirPod case and my wallet and setting it down on surfaces.

I typically use my phones without cases, so that’s a data point for you. If you’re going to use a case you’ll be just fine (though why would you choose it then, I dunno). If you plan on running it ‘naked,’ be prepared to take a polishing cloth to it or learn to live with the fact that, just like a car with black shiny paint, it’s going to get the whorls and scratches of any high-gloss surface.”

Unlike many reviewers, he praises the new Taptic Home button, which is no longer a physical button as in previous iPhones:

“If you’ve ever used haptic feedback on a jailbroken iPhone or an Android phone, you might have noticed how, no matter what buttons or keys you tap, the vibration feels exactly the same. This is due to how crude most vibration motors are. The Taptic engine is far, far more advanced and can offer different signals to the user based on what they’re doing.”

As an added bonus, he ever tries out preproduction AirPods, which get another positive write-up.

Wired

Wired reviewer David Pierce praises the iPhone 7’s new A10 Fusion processor as “ludicrously, outrageously fast,” although he’s not so keen on the Taptic Home button, which he says is difficult to get used to.

Again, the camera (for the iPhone 7 Plus) receives the bulk of the praise. Pierce says that while it “can’t match a truly professional-level camera … I’ve gotten more detail and richness from my photos than I can ever remember getting off a smartphone.”

Ultimately, he says that the iPhone 7 “won’t blow your mind with its design or features, [but is] still a fantastic phone.”

Engadget

Writing for Engadget, Chris Velazco echoes a lot of Wired‘s review — describing the iPhone 7 as Apple “[playing] it safe” for the most part, but still creating a superb smartphone in the process.

Positives include performance, the 12MP camera, improved battery, and water-resistant features. Negatives include the lack of a headphone jack, virtually the same design for the third year in a row, and the fact that the new Home button takes a bit of getting used to.

“If you can get over the all-too-familiar design and the no-headphone-jack thing, then the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are serious contenders for best smartphones, period,” he writes. “Note that I used the word ‘best,’ not ‘most innovative’ — neither of these devices is groundbreaking.”

Walt Mossberg

Mossberg has long been Apple’s favorite reviewer, but his write-up for The Verge is perhaps the most mixed review yet.

“I’ve been using both the 4.7-inch iPhone 7 and the 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus for nearly a week, equipped with the much-improved iOS 10 operating system,” he writes. “And I’m impressed. But I’m also annoyed. And impatient. All at the same time.”

Mossberg likes everything you’d expect him to like about the iPhone, but he’s annoyed at the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack, which he sees as unnecessary. He also writes that he is “impatient for Apple to do a top-to-bottom redesign of the iPhone, and the iPhone 7 isn’t it.”

At the end of the day he notes that:

“[D]espite the undisputed improvements, this new iPhone just isn’t as compelling an upgrade as many of its predecessors. Some might want to wait a year for the next really big thing — and maybe a better audio solution to boot.”

The Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal‘s Geoffrey A. Fowler loves the increased battery life of the new iPhones and gets annoyed at the glossy jet black color with its “diabolical ability to retain fingerprints,” but praises the camera’s ability to shoot in low light.

It’s another of those frustrating reviews that only Apple could get: essentially amounting to “it’s pretty boring how great it works. Oh yes, and it might just be the best smartphone yet.”

“Is it worth upgrading your two-year-old (or older) iPhone? Yes,” the review concludes. “Will many of us want to sell the 7 next year when Apple introduces Mr. Ive’s 10th-anniversary edition iPhone X Deluxe OLED in ceramic poppy red? For Apple’s sake, I hope so.”

The New York Times

Finally, The New York Times notes the new Taptic Home button as a negative and says it’s “irritating not to have an audio jack.” However, these complaints are ultimately framed as more teething pains than a permanent annoyance — and the rest of the package is heavily praised.

Have these reviews swayed you in any direction concerning buying the new iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus? Which feature are you most excited about? Leave your comments below.

  • Arnoud van Houwelingen

    i am getting the jet black version. I know it gets smudges and aberrations but i really don’t care that much. This version is so cool :)