Review roundup: iPhone 7 is the greatest iPhone yet, but lack of the headphone jack is annoying
A bevy of iPhone 7 reviews have been published in advance of the phone's actual release, with nearly all of them singing the praises of the device, amidst one big omission — the headphone jack.
The Wall Street Journal
Long-time tech reviewer Geoffrey Fowler at The Wall Street Journal claims that the new iPhone 7 brings fixes to much of what has ailed the iPhone over the years. Calling it the "anti-anxiety iPhone" Fowler calls the extended battery life and water resistance the key points to Apple's renovation of the line.
Fowler is less excited about the camera in the iPhone 7 Plus than most, calling it only on par with the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Note 7. While he praises Apple's move to 32GB at a minimum, he also criticizes Apple's continued lack of microSD card expansion.
"Get over the missing headphone jack," says Fowler. "The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are worth the upgrade for longer battery life, better low-light photos and water-resistance."
Wired calls the A10 Fusion "outrageously fast," and trumpets the battery life in the family, even with periodic game playing and video streaming. However, reviewer David Pierce says that the home button is overall positive for the phone, but may be a negative for some as they adapt to the haptic feedback over a physical push-button.
Pierce heralds the camera in the iPhone 7 as great, but the iPhone 7 Plus has given him more detail and richness than any other phone camera he's ever used.
"The iPhone 7 might not be a revolution," wrote Pierce. "But it might be the catalyst for lots of them."
Repeating others' criticisms about the new iPhone, Engadget's Chris Velazco also takes marks off for the lack of a headphone jack, external design, ease of case damage on the Jet Black finish, and the new home button's adjustment period.
However, Velazco praises the DCI-P3 Wide Color implementation on the new iPhone, and is very happy with the iPhone 7 family of phone. Both low-light and daylight shots were considered better or on par with the camera on the Galaxy S7 Edge.
"If you can get over the all-too-familiar design and the no-headphone-jack thing," wrote Velasco, "then the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are serious contenders for best smartphones, period."
Matthew Panzarino of TechCrunch talks more about Apple's philosophical shift to future technologies than the day-to-day performance of the iPhone 7 itself. He hits the normal positives of the camera and performance, and considers the removal of the headphone jack an overall positive one for the industry.
"The school of thought that says Apple removing the headphone jack is almost entirely a business decision...Â is ridiculous and myopic," writes Panzarino. "The near-term gains of making more money on headphone sales is far outweighed by the issues Apple would bring upon itself in the long-term by making decisions that were bankrupt of real design justification."
From a design standpoint, Panzarino notes that the nearly invisible antenna bands on the black-finished phones are welcome, but the new finishes are easily scratched. He notes that the camera bulge on the back protrudes out of the back "like a muscle" rather than the "timid and apologetic" considerations made in the iPhone 6 family.
Apple pragmatist John Gruber has made a great deal of examination on the finishes on the iPhone 7. While he likes the look of black, he prefers the feel of the jet black phone. He also expects that the "micro abrasion" issue that Apple pointed out will turn into "scuffgate."
"I wouldn't be surprised if the news stories and pundit hot takes about jet black iPhone scratches and scuffs outnumber those about the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 literally exploding and hurting people," writes Gruber. "If you want your phone to look mint or near mint, get black, not jet black."
Gruber praises the camera, and so far dislikes the new taptic engine-driven home button. As a result, Gruber points to the AssistiveTouch feature with a virtual, mobile home button on the user screen as an option, and notes its wide-spread use in Asia well before the new solid state home button was implemented.
New York Times
While Brian Chen from the New York Times does address the performance of the new iPhone and compliments the improved camera on both models, he spends most of his review analyzing Apple's decision to omit the headphone jack, and the potential consumer reaction to it.
"After testing the new iPhone 7 and its larger sibling, the 7 Plus, for five days, I have hopped on the 7 train, " proclaims Chen. "The new iPhones deliver on Apple's promises."
As expected, the Ars Technica review delves deeply into the minutiae of the phone, and applies it to the more technically savvy smartphone user. Reviewer Andrew Cunningham calls this the first iPhone that isn't additive, pointing to the lack of a headphone jack as the future, with Apple forcing the issue of wireless audio.
Other than the removal of the headphone jack, Cunningham sees few down-sides to the new model, other than the industry-standard complaints of priciness, a relatively un-changed design, and a very slight difference in quality between the telephoto camera and the main camera.
"If you understand things best when they're phrased as tired idioms," writes Cunningham, "the missing headphone jack is a fly in the iPhone 7's ointment."