The launch of a new iPhone every September has become somewhat of a tradition, and September 7th this year was no exception. Here’s a round up of everything announced on the new iPhone and a few more products besides.
iPhone 7 and 7 Plus
Indisputably the biggest announcement of the day, the launch of the iPhone 7 has divided opinion in more ways than one.
The removal of the ubiquitous 3.5mm headphone jack included on most smartphones has proven a controversial decision. It has been replaced with a bundled pair of headphones using Apple’s proprietary lightning connector and the launch of a separately available pair of wireless AirPods which automatically connects to devices. Alternatively, for users who want to use their own headphones, Apple has also included a 3.5mm to lightning adapter.
During the keynote, Apple’s Phil Schiller said the decision to eliminate the headphone jack was one of ‘courage’, however it remains to be seen whether this will placate customers who have invested in decent headphones or appreciate the convenience of using the 3.5mm connector.
The iconic home button has also been given an overhaul. The button in the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus is now electrostatic and pressure sensitive, meaning that it can perform a variety of different functions depending on how hard it is pressed down, which was demoed both in the operating system and third party apps.
Following on from the introduction of Rose Gold at the launch of last year’s iPhone 6S, Apple has further expanded the iPhone range of colours to include a new glossy ‘jet black’ shade, however with the discontinuation of the ‘space grey’ colour option the choices on offer are still quite limited compared to a number of other smartphones.
The camera also received an upgrade. Although resolution for still images is still only fixed at 12MP (much lower than a number of Android rivals), the introduction of a new image processor, larger sensor and optical image stabilisation should lead to better low light image performance. The iPhone 7 Plus also comes with a new dual camera setup featuring both wide angle and Telephoto lenses, which according to the Cupertino firm allows for much better zoom and improved depth of field effects, while the front camera has had a resolution bump to 7MP.
Screen and battery life have also seen upgrades, with the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus supposedly now lasting two hours longer than its predecessor under day to day use. Although the resolution of the phone’s Retina display is still fixed at 720p compared to the QHD and 4K resolutions prevalent on recent Android and Windows smartphones, Apple is touting the phone’s support for the cinema-standard Wide Colour Gamut, which it claims offers much better contrast ratios and an increase in colour depth and richness over other smartphones.
The phone is also IP67-rated, meaning it should be ‘splash, water and dust resistant’. The IP67 rating means it can survive depths of up to 1m, so rain, a shallow swim or accidental immersion in the toilet should not cause any damage. Not that liquid damage is covered by Apple’s warranty, however, so your mileage may vary. Pre-orders for the 7 and 7 Plus are open now.
We also got a concrete release date for the latest iteration of Apple’s mobile operating system. iOS 10 will be available as a free upgrade for the iPhone 5S and newer as well as the iPad mini 2 and above and 6th generation iPod touch and will ship installed on the 7 and 7 Plus. New features include enhancements to the messaging app to compete with Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp as well as better integration between Siri and third party apps.
An all new Apple Watch
Since the launch of the original Apple Watch in 2015, Apple has quickly gained a large proportion of the wearable devices market. CEO Tim Cook revealed today that the company had become the world’s second largest watch manufacturer by sales, a considerable feat given it has only been manufacturing the Apple Watch since 2014.
Today saw the announcement of the watch’s latest incarnation, bringing a number of new features including built-in GPS, full waterproofing up to depths of 50m (in case you feel like swimming) and a much brighter display.
The range of colours and bands on offer will also be expanded, including a Nike Plus branded edition designed specifically for exercise, which will be released in October. The exercise driven focus extends to the use of the inbuilt GPS chip, which was demoed with hiking and running apps and will allow runners to track their route without having to tether the watch to their iPhone.
A new white ceramic finish will also join the existing range. Claimed to be four times harder than stainless steel, the price for this model will also be harder to swallow given it is set to cost $1249 compared to the $269-299 price of the base Watch Series 2 model.
The WatchOS 3 update was also announced, including new interfaces for some Apple apps as well as new health and emergency contact features and a dramatic performance. The original Apple Watch will also be updated when the software is released on September 13th and will be sold as a cheaper model at a new price of £200.
Increasingly popular since the software was made free for anyone using a Mac, iPad or iPhone, Apple’s productivity suite also gained a major new feature.
Among promotions for its educational campaigns and initiatives, Apple announced that iWork would allow real time collaboration among users – a point illustrated by editing the keynote presentation on the stage in front of everyone watching.
Although other productivity suites including Microsoft Office and the Google’s Drive offering have had similar functionality for a good long while (Google Docs has featured comprehensive real-time collaboration since 2010), the fact that iWork is bundled for free with many Apple products and requires an iCloud account (which has to be created in order to set up an iDevice), could give Apple’s offering a considerable advantage when it comes to gaining market share.