Apple iPhone 7 Plus full review
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The iPhone 7 Plus was - thanks to a slew of upgrades and enhancements - already the best iPhone Apple has ever made, but now it's also very much the best-looking. In March 2017 Apple announced a new Product Red iPhone 7 Plus model that not only marks a partnership of more than 10 years with AIDS charity (RED), but that could help the company find a whole new customer set.
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We’ve become accustomed to a new iPhone design every two years, but the iPhone 7 sticks with the same chassis as the 6 and 6S Plus, reviewed. And it’s the same for the iPhone 7 Plus whose looks, weight and dimensions are essentially identical to the 5.5in Apple phones from 2014 and 2015 - save for the new red option.
Given the rumours of radical updates coming in 2017, with an edge-to-edge screen featuring a built-in home button, TouchID and other sensors, it’s easy to be slightly disappointed with the more modest and evolutionary upgrades on offer this year.
However, rumours are rumours: they might turn out to be false. And as with the iPhone 7, the cumulative updates make the iPhone 7 Plus a very desirable phone. See also our iPhone 7 vs iPhone 7 Plus comparison.
iPhone 7 Plus review: Price
Storage has doubled this year, although it’s the base storage that most people will benefit from. It’s now 32GB, but the bad news is that it’s £100 more than last year’s cheapest model, which was £619. You can buy the iPhone 7 Plus for £719 from John Lewis (where you get a two-year warranty).
If 32GB is too small, you’ll have to go for the 128GB model that costs £819. We can see few people paying a further £100 for 256GB, although this luxurious capacity means you can use those new cameras to your heart’s content without worrying about running out of space.
Contract prices start from around £45 per month, but can approach £70 if you want a low upfront price and the 128GB version.
Remember, too, that if you want the fancy glossy Jet Black or Product Red version these are not available in 32GB, so prices start at £819.
(See also: iPhone 7 Plus price and specs.)
iPhone 7 Plus review: Features and design
Unless you go for one of the exciting new product colours, you may mourn the fact that the 7 Plus still looks the same. But there’s no denying that this is a great-looking phone which is superbly built and feels great in the hand. If you’re used to smaller phones, the 7 Plus can feel giant, especially when you put it in a case. It’s not a one-handed phone.
You’ll also struggle to comfortably carry it in a trouser pocket. Where the iPhone 7 fits easily, you’ll find that the 7 Plus is better off in the inside pocket of a coat, or in a bag. The iPhone 7 is on top to show the scale:
We prefer the black models as the others have a white front that highlights the offset camera and light sensor.
Around the back, the 7 Plus loses some of its antenna lines for a cleaner look. On the black models the lines that remain are almost invisible. Again, our preference is the black model because it doesn’t show up fingerprints and is much more forgiving when it picks up minor scratches and scuffs. The Jet Black finish looks amazing, but is hard to keep that way.
Breaking up this cleaner-looking back is the larger camera bump which now packs in two lenses, one wide-angle and the other telephoto. This means there are two 12Mp sensors and, like the LG G5, you can flip between the two in the camera app almost instantly. Apple has also changed the selfie camera at the front from a 5Mp to a 7Mp sensor.
The home button is no longer a physical push button. It looks no different to before, but has no moving parts. Instead, you get haptic feedback from the new, larger Taptic Engine and it’s possible to set three different levels depending on whether you prefer a weaker or stronger feeling when the button ‘clicks’.
It works exactly the same way it always has, but bear in mind that in iOS 10 you now have to press the button to unlock the phone: there’s no more swiping.
One reason for the change is that it’s one less place for water to get in: the iPhone 7 Plus is now water-resistant so you can immerse it up to 1m for up to 30 minutes. It’s worth pointing out that this applies only to fresh water and that you shouldn’t really use it for underwater photos and video in the sea or a swimming pool full of chemicals.
It means that accidentally dropping your phone in the bath or spilling a glass of water over it shouldn’t harm it.
The other major change is that there’s no headphone jack. Instead the bundled headphones come with a Lightning connector, but if you prefer to use your existing headphones, there’s a Lightning-to-minijack adaptor in the box as well.
These are cheap to replace if you lose them, but it’s a shame that they’re white: the adaptor sticks out like a sore thumb if you have a black phone and your headphones have a black wire and connector. Overall, it’s a minor inconvenience which becomes a real annoyance when you want to use wired headphones and charge the phone at the same time. You can buy another adaptor which gives you two Lightning ports, but this makes things even uglier and costs around £40.
As with the iPhone 7, the Plus also gets stereo speakers. One is in the usual place on the bottom edge and the other is in the earpiece. It means the iPhone finally has decent sound. It’s particularly good when watching videos, but it’s also a boon in some games that work in landscape mode (not all do of course).