Apple iPhone 7 vs iPhone 6s: Should you upgrade?

Here's why you might (or might not) want to hold off

It's that time again: the dawning of September means Apple has just unveiled a new iPhone, and the iPhone 7 is just over a week away from landing in the hands of millions.

Question is, should it end up in your hands if you're currently wielding an iPhone 6s? The temptation to upgrade can be tempting, especially as this is the thinnest, sleekest Apple phone to date, but are the enhancements really enough to make you jettison a year-old flagship?

We've just posted our full, comprehensive iPhone 7 review today, but if you're looking for a to-the-point verdict on whether or not you need to scrape together 60,000+ for an upgrade, here's our take.


1) It's waterproof

Possibly the most significant change is one that you may never notice without a would-be mishap: the iPhone 7 is IP67-rated waterproof, which means it can take both a splash and a puddle bath without failing. Last year's iPhone 6s had some slight water resistance internally, but this is a big step up.

2) It's more powerful

The iPhone 7 delivers Apple's new A10 Fusion system-on-a-chip, which promises a big speed increase over the previous A9 processor. Apple says it's 40% faster than the iPhone 6s, and it seems to be in the ballpark of what the Snapdragon 820 and Samsung's latest Exynos processors can do on Android.

What does that mean? Well, you'll see potentially glossier graphics, fewer hitches along the way, and a more efficient (i.e. less warm) phone when processing needs are heavy. That said, the iPhone 6s was already a plenty fast and capable phone, and you probably won't notice any significant change if you're just sending texts and emails and watching YouTube clips.

3) It has better cameras

While you won't get the dual-camera array of the iPhone 7 Plus, the standard iPhone 7 does implement significant camera enhancements over last year's phone. Most obvious of those may be optical image stabilisation, which was previously limited to the Plus phones. That shows its powers when your photos end up less shaky and blurry.

Beyond that, the six-element lens is at a f/1.8 aperture, this time, around, grabbing better low-light images. Also, the Quad-LED True Tone flash is 50% brighter than last year's back camera, further improving your chances of grabbing a great shot in any lighting conditions.

In our review testing, we found that the iPhone 7 focused faster and took generally beautiful shots in most lighting conditions, even putting up a solid fight in low-light conditions. And you'll spot a bit more vibrancy, too, thanks to the wider colour gamut being captured and then displayed on the screen.

Also, heads-up selfie lovers: the 7MP front-facing camera is an upgrade from the iPhone 6s, capturing all your beauty with added pixels. Soak it in.

4) It has more storage

If the lack of a headphone port is definitely a disappointment, at least the iPhone 7 finally addresses one of the biggest pain points of the modern iPhone experience: internal storage.

Shunning the 16GB starter model of previous phones, the iPhone 7 starts at 32GB and then vaults up to 128GB and 256GB for the super-sized models. That means that you get a pretty reasonable and useable amount of space even with the cheapest model, and that paying extra for a higher capacity really boosts the tally.

5) It has a slightly better battery

The iPhone 7 claims two additional hours of battery life over last year's phone, so if you're having trouble making it to the end of the day with your iPhone 6s, then getting the iPhone 7 could make up the difference there. We did notice that the iPhone 7 provided a bit more resistance against battery drain than its predecesor, but it's not a dramatic difference: you can't yet spend all day playing glossy games and expect to still be happily humming in the evening.

6) It now has stereo speakers

Not the biggest reason to upgrade, maybe, but it's still worth having. The addition of the second speaker means that the iPhone is now 2x louder overall - perfect for those back-of-the-night-bus singalongs.

7) It has new Home-button-tech

The old 'pushable' home button has been replaced by a pressure-sensitive one that doesn't move, instead reacting to your touch with a pulse from Apple's new Taptic Engine. Fewer moving parts means less chance of breaking, plus new possibilities such as enhanced force feedback in games. The change could be slightly awkward for anyone who's been using an iPhone for ages - we found that it makes it feel like you're clicking the entire bottom of the phone with a tap - but you'll get used to it soon enough.

8) It has a more colourful screen 

While the display resolution is unchanged (see below), Apple has at least improved the tech behind it. The display uses a wider colour palette than previous screens, which makes your photos look more vibrant and true-to-life on your phone screen, for instance. It's also 25% brighter.


1) It looks pretty much unchanged

At a glance, the iPhone 7 doesn't bring dramatic changes over the iPhone 6s, which itself was nearly identical to the iPhone 6. Apple's usual every-other-year cycle for introducing a new shape and fresh curves has been chucked aside, seemingly in anticipation of some big 10-year-anniversary model in 2017.

For now, that means the visual changes are largely minor. The antenna lines have been shifted up and down, respectively, to ride the curves – that makes the back a little nicer-looking. And with new colour options, you might find one that is perfectly suited to you. That glossy Jet Black certainly is eye-catching, although it's an absolute fingerprint magnet and even Apple admits that it can scratch easily.

2) It no longer has a headphone port

This isn't quite the unforgivable measure that some people are making it out to be, and if you already use Bluetooth headphones or don't mind using Apple's bundled Lightning buds it won't even be a negative. However, for the rest of us, the removal of the classic 3.5mm headphone port will be at least an annoyance, forcing you to either buy new 'phones or use the included 3.5mm-to-Lightning adaptor (which will undoubtedly get lost at some stage). It's not like the phone is even slimmer as a result.  

3) The display resolution is unchanged

Apple seems content to largely follow the existing mold when it comes to the screen, which is again a 4.7in 3D Touch display at a resolution of 1334 x 750 (326 pixels per inch). That's a little better than 720p, which puts the iPhone 7 well behind the flagship competition on the Android side, where Quad HD (2560 x 1440) displays are now expected for phones at this price level.

As ever, the company's phone displays always tend to look really nice even at a reduced resolution, and the difference between 750p and 1080p on a sub-5in display isn't dramatic – but it is something. And this is the same Retina level we've seen for years in terms of pixels per inch.

4) There's no 64GB option

While we're pleased that Apple upped the bottom-of-the-range model's storage from 16GB to 32GB, we're less happy that it also removed the 64GB version. It's a big price jump from 32GB up to 128GB - 10,000 - whereas the jump from the 16GB iPhone 6s to the 64GB version was only 6,000. It all feels a little unfair.

5) It's expensive

And while we're on the subject of price... it's too expensive in general. The 32GB model is priced at ₹60,000, while the 128GB version is 70,000 and 256GB for 80,000. It's an expensive phone everywhere.

verdict: Worth the upgrade?

As you'd expect, the iPhone 7 is the most accomplished version of Apple's regular-sized handset to date. The display's been tweaked (slightly), there's (slightly) more power, and a (slightly) better camera. You also get waterproofing and stereo speakers.

But all those 'slightly's might not seem like enough when it comes to spending several hundred pounds on a new phone, especially if your year-old iPhone 6s is still alive and kicking. In that case, we say waiting a year is your better bet – next year's phone will surely shake up the look and feel of the iPhone and probably bring more meaningful enhancements as well.

On the other hand, if you've got a two-year-old iPhone 6 that starts to seem a little sluggish once the awesome iOS 10 is installed or even an older model, then now is probably the time to pounce on a new iPhone rather than sticking with the old tech until late 2017.