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

The Plus picks up big perks, but is it enough?

In case you haven't been following the news (or the months of rumours and hype), Apple just revealed the iPhone 7 – and, of course, the larger iPhone 7 Plus.

The iPhone 7 Plus represents a larger leap in hardware and capabilities over the standard model, as exemplified by the exclusive dual-camera array and supposed extra chunk of RAM within.

Still, if you're carrying last year's expensive and still very-capable iPhone 6s Plus, do you really want to shell out for a brand new Apple phablet? Allow us to guide you through the decision based on the specs and what we've seen so far.

Yes! Waterproof and more

It's been two years since the iPhone 6 Plus was released, so given Apple's usual release pattern, we should see a totally new iPhone design this year, right? Nope. As long rumoured, Apple instead opted to refine the current iPhone design again after last year's iPhone 6s Plus.

You'll see some tweaks here: the antenna lines that previously ran through the back are now curved along the top and bottom, which makes for a cleaner design. Add in the new black colour options (check out that Jet Black gloss), meanwhile, and you've got some fresh choices to consider.

Better yet, the phone is IP67-rated waterproof, which means you don't have to freak out every time it gets a few drops on it – or it drops into a puddle, for instance. It also has a new solid-state home button that doesn't actually push in, but still feels like it thanks to a subtle buzz from the Taptic Engine. Hopefully it doesn't feel too different!

Maybe! This screen is True

It won't compete with the Quad HD screens of top Android flagships, but the 5.5in 1080p 3D Touch display from the previous Plus models is back and still looking quite fine. The size and resolution are the same this time around, but the tech is slightly enhanced.

The True Tone display from this spring's 9.7in iPad Pro is now found on the iPhone 7, and it offers a wider colour gamut for more vivid and realistic imagery – and that means photos taken with the camera should look spot-on when viewed on the phone screen. Also, an ambient light sensor adjusts the screen's warmth based on your surroundings, and it's 25% brighter.

All told, these aren't make-or-break additions, but it should make for a nicer viewing experience overall if you're upgrading from a previous iPhone.

Maybe! More power to play with

Bumping up to the new A10 Fusion system-on-a-chip means the iPhone 7 Plus is more powerful than last year's A9-toting iPhone 6s Plus. More processing power means you can expect better gaming graphics, smoother performance with iOS 10, and hopefully zero issues with multitasking.

As we said in our piece on upgrading to the standard iPhone 7, the prospect of a boosted processor isn't that crucial to the average user: the iPhone 6s Plus is already plenty powerful, and the performance increases here are probably slight.

But with the iPhone 7 Plus, you'll also reportedly get a bump up from 2GB RAM to 3GB RAM, which should make it a slightly snappier phone than the smaller model. This hasn't been confirmed yet, as Apple doesn't list RAM in its specs, but we should find out once a proper teardown is completed.

Again, this might not be hugely noticeable in everyday use, but anyone who craves the cutting edge might be more enticed by the hardware boosts in the larger Plus model.

Yes! Double the camera

Finally, a truly huge difference between the standard and Plus models beyond size and screen resolution: the iPhone 7 Plus adds a dual-camera array that isn't found on the iPhone 7, and it brings some seriously impressive perks.

Along with the 12-megapixel wide-angle lens from the iPhone 7, you also get a 12MP telephoto lens – and the two work together to create crisper, DSLR-like photos. You'll get 2x optical zoom and enhanced 10x digital zoom, plus a software update will add a depth-of-field effect for brilliant portrait shots and bokeh effects. It could be the best camera setup ever seen on a phone.

And like the iPhone 7, you'll also find an upgraded 7MP selfie shooter on the front. Smile for the camera, eh?

Yes! More storage and uptime

Like the iPhone 7, the iPhone 7 Plus is making up for one huge Apple deficiency in recent years: lacking internal storage. Kicking the 16GB starting level to the curb, the Plus starts off with 32GB and rockets upwards from there, with 128GB and 256GB versions also available.

If you grabbed a 16GB iPhone 6s Plus last year and have been kicking yourself ever since – and deleting apps and games every other day, most likely – then now might be the time to jump up to a higher capacity. At least 32GB is a fair amount to work with, and anything more is just icing on the cake.

Also, Apple says the iPhone 7 Plus should get about an hour more of battery life on a full charge compared to the 6s Plus. That's a smaller sum than the iPhone 7, which boasts two bonus hours over the standard iPhone 6s, but at least it's something.

Initial verdict: Worth the upgrade?

Annual phone upgrades usually aren't necessary when it comes to really expensive, feature-packed flagship devices, and that's especially true when the latest phone feels like a pretty moderate revision on the existing design. That's pretty much the case with the iPhone 7 Plus.

However, the upgrade seems a bit more worthwhile than with the standard iPhone 7 thanks in large part to the dual camera array. Not only does that make the Plus model feel like a bigger bump over the regular version, but we also think that the iPhone 7 Plus' camera could best the Galaxy S7's back camera as the best in the smartphone game today.

We'll know better once we start testing the phone for our review, but between that and the reported extra RAM boost, the iPhone 7 Plus seems like a more worthwhile upgrade over the iPhone 6s Plus than the iPhone 7 is over the standard 6s.

Still, last year's phone is a powerful and worthwhile phone, so unless you're desperate to own the latest Apple gadgets, you may consider waiting until next year's surely-more-significant iPhone overhaul.