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In just a few short days, the new iPhone 7 will be available for preorder ahead of its Sept. 16 launch. AppleInsider is here to guide you through your choices to help you decide which model is right for you.
Coming Sept. 16: the iPhone 7 family
Customers will be able to order iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus beginning Friday, Sept. 9, with availability beginning Friday, Sept. 16, in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, UAE, the U.K., U.S. Virgin Islands and the U.S.
iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will be available in Andorra, Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Greenland, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, Isle of Man, Jersey, Kosovo, Kuwait, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Maldives, Malta, Monaco, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia and Slovenia beginning Friday, September 23. iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will also be available to customers in India beginning Friday, October 7.
While the iPhone 7 is very nearly dimensionally the same as the iPhone 6, there have been major changes to the devices.
Pro: A10 processor
While every iPhone iteration is faster than the one preceding it, sometimes this has come at the expense of battery life. The A10 processor features four cores, with two performance cores, and two efficiency cores.
Practically, this means that low-drain tasks like music playback and e-mail retrieval can be shunted to the more efficient cores, leaving the heavier-duty cores idle, cutting battery consumption back.
In conjunction with a new GPU integral to the A10, the iPhone 7 stands leagues apart from the iPhone 6, and is still noticeably faster in most tasks than the iPhone 6s.
Both models of the iPhone 7 are still 12MP units, but the optics and support equipment associated with the sensor are improved.
Better lenses allow for better low-light photography. Improvements to software and response time give photographers more options for high-speed subjects, such as athletes or children.
As a bonus for iPhone 7 Plus purchasers, the larger model has a dual-lens system with one of the cameras having a 2x optical zoom. This allows for a 10x combined zoom, and in an upcoming software update, automatic bokeh application, if desired.
Pro: improved Retina HD display
The Retina screens on the iPhone and iPad have always been good. Apple has widened the color gamut on the iPhone 7 over that of the iPhone 6s, and increased the brightness as well.
Unknown, ask again later: Home button
Apple has implemented the same technology it uses in the Force Touch trackpad in the iPhone's home button. Instead of a tangible click, the Touch ID home button now responds with the phone's Haptic Engine.
Without more time handling the phone, we can't tell if this is a problem or not yet. Apocryphally, some long-time Mac users haven't cared for the lack of a tangible, mechanical click in the Force Touch trackpad on Apple Portables — this crowd will likely not be swayed by the new home button either.
Unknown, ask again later: Apple's W1 chip and AirPods
Apple spent a great deal of time on the new AirPods. At $159, they aren't cheap, and we don't yet know if they require an iPhone 7 to fully utilize Apple's new syncing system.
The iPhone is a computing device, and should be evaluated as such prior to purchase
Con: headphone jack
There's good news and bad news about the analog headphone jack being left off the iPhone 7 family.
The good news is omission is one of the key factors that allowed the phone to be IP-67 water resistant. The bad news is if you wanted to use a wired 2.5mm jack sound output through the included Lighting to headphone dongle and charge your iPhone at the same time, you're out of luck — at least for now.
Con: jet black finish is prone to scuffing and scratching
While Jony Ive may indeed claim that the jet black iPhone 7 is the truest to the original iPhone vision yet, the same cannot be said for the durability of the finish that most closely resembles early iPhone plastics.
"The high-gloss finish of the Jet Black iPhone 7 is achieved through a precision nine-step anodization and polishing process," a disclaimer near the bottom of the phones' Apple noted on the store page for the phone. "Its surface is equally as hard as other anodized Apple products; however, its high shine may show fine micro-abrasions with use. If you are concerned about this, we suggest you use one of the many cases available to protect your iPhone."
The same problem isn't mentioned for the other four iPhone 7 color choices.
The 4.7-inch iPhone 7 starts at $649 for 32 GB of storage, and ranges up to $849 for 256 GB. A 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus will be available for $769 for 32 GB, up to $969 for 256 GB.
Apple claims that carrier pricing for the iPhone 7 Plus is about $32 per month for 24 months, with the iPhone 7 coming in at $27 a month.
Preorders for the iPhone 7 start on Friday, Sept. 9. Deliveries commence to the U.S on Sept. 16, with retail availability on the 16th in limited quantities.
Pricing as a con can't be laid at Apple's door exclusively. The phones have always been around the existing range of pricing with the notable exception of the original iPhone, but have been heavily subsidized by wireless carriers.
Pushed down the line: the iPhone 6s family
The iPhone 6s family remains in Apple's lineup, and has been cut down a bit both in number of available models, and pricing.
Savvy users more interested in the larger screen than all the new bells and whistles associated with a new model can get last year's big screen for the price of the smaller iPhone 7, or less.
With the iPhone 7 occupying the high-end of the product lineup, the iPhone 6s has been pushed down in pricing. Installment plans for the iPhone 6s start at $23 per month, with the 5.5-inch iPhone 6s Plus available for $27 per month.
Given that the phones have been available for a year, carriers also sometimes sell refurbished devices either outright, or on an installment plan. At AT&T for instance, the iPhone 6s with 32GB of RAM is periodically available for $19 a month, with the 6s Plus with 32GB selling for $21 per month.
Pro: no more 16GB configuration!
With the shuffling, has come the eradication of all the 16GB configurations in the iPhone 6s family. Some may remain as refurbished stock, or as remnants from the previous year.
While it can be argued that it is easier to live with 16GB now through cloud-based storage, than in the last three years, the biggest complaint levied against the 6s is now gone.
Two configurations remain — 32GB, and 128GB.
Pro: headphone jack
As much as Apple wishes it may be so, it has no way to reach back through time and space to eradicate features it no longer wants. So, if you want to use Lightning to charge, and the headphone jack to listen to music simultaneously, the iPhone 6s is the newest, and probably last, model that will allow you to do that out of the box.
Con: it's not an iPhone 7
While the iPhone 6s superficially looks like the iPhone 7, it isn't one. None of the advances in the iPhone 7 are available in the older model — but that's the point of the newer model.
Staying pat: the iPhone SE
The iPhone SE was Apple's answer to complaints that there was no low-end entry to the iPhone. In March, Apple made one, and it remains unchanged after Wednesday's "See You on Sept. 7" release extravaganza.
Big Pro: Price to performance
The iPhone SE replaced, undercut, and out-performed the iPhone 5s when it was released. At $400 for an A9 processor and 16GB of storage, it provided a solid device in a tested form factor.
Apple notes that an iPhone SE starts at $17 per month for 24 months at most of the U.S. wireless carriers.
Pro and Con: screen size
Nothing has changed about the iPhone SE, including the four-inch screen. While some find that suitable, others more used to larger screen sizes may chafe at the limit.
Con: device storage
While the iPhone SE remains, it did not get the boost in minimum storage that the iPhone 6s family did. The phone remains with either 16GB or 64GB configurations.
What to pick?
The iPhone is a computing device, and should be evaluated as such prior to purchase. Do you need the best performance, with the best screen, and the best camera, with money being no object? The choice is clear.
However, if the iPhone needs to be jammed in a small pocket, there are other factors at work in the decision making process, other than just best of everything. Before you jump in, figure out what you need, and the rest is easy.
The pre-ordering process, and questions
The normal process for pre-ordering on Sept. 9 is either online at Apple.com, your existing wireless vendor, or other venues, with the portals for the order going live at midnight Pacific time (3 a.m. Eastern time). If you're replacing an off-contract phone, or paying full retail at the time of purchase, then the process is easy and will go like it has nearly every other year.
Retail store availability above and beyond pre-orders is likely to be constrained, like it has since the iPhone was originally released.
We don't know yet how the upgrade process will go for people on the various carrier-specific iPhone every year programs. One AT&T representative we spoke with says that corporate stores will handle device turn-in and inspection for AT&T Next subscribers, with another telling us that the process was handled on a national level.
Update: Users on Apple's iPhone upgrade program are being notified through the Apple Store apps of eligibility. Beginning Sept. 9, participants can make an appointment for Sept 16. or later to upgrade, with the user needing to bring in the upgrade-eligible phone and begin the upgrade process with a specialist.
Final eligibility, including anything owed, will be determined in-store.
AppleInsider will update this post as we gather further information on the matter.