APPLE IPHONE 7 PLUS AUDIO: JACK IT IN
The Plus has excellent sound to back up the stellar screen, with stereo speakers finally finding their way into an iPhone for the first time (or second if you count the fact that they're also included on the smaller iPhone 7). They can pump out impressively loud audio, and don’t sound half-bad either - no need to grab your back-up ’buds when you want to watch a YouTube video.
Sound has taken a hit in another area, though: the headphone port. It’s gone, ditched in favour of Apple’s Lightning port. That means lugging around a clunky 3.5mm adapter if you want to use your existing set of cans, or cutting the cord altogether with Bluetooth.
Is it an annoying move? Abso-tootly. Is it the only phone to lose it? Nope, Android phones such as the Moto Z have ditched it too. Is it the end of the world? Nah, not really.
The ugly adapter is almost definitely going to get lost, and the number of people using Apple EarPods on the morning commute are probably going to skyrocket given that there’s a Lightning-equipped pair in the box, but the grumbling will stop eventually. Besides, Bluetooth headphones are really good these days.
Apple IPHONE 7 PLUS Design: BACK IN BLACK
Aside from the MIA headphone port, you’d be hard-pressed to pick the iPhone 7 Plus from a lineup of 6S Pluses - well, from the front at any rate.
There’s barely any difference at all, with the biggest being that the Home button isn’t actually a button now. It’s still got fingerprint-sensing TouchID smarts that work just as swiftly as those on last year’s phone, but it now sits flush to the phone.
To make up for it no longer being a proper pressable button, it's been kitted out with Apple’s Taptic engine, a feature which first showed up in the new Macbook trackpad and Apple Watch. Here it uses haptic feedback to mimic the feel of an actual click - and it mostly works. It’ll definitely take some getting used to - mainly due to it feeling as if you’re clicking in the whole bottom of the phone, rather than just the button. But you can tweak it to make it more or less ‘clicky’, and we suspect that after a few weeks with it you'll barely remember a time when it felt any different.
Flip the iPhone 7 Plus over, of course, and you’ll instantly spot the twin camera sensors, along with the stealthy antenna lines that have been bumped closer to the top and bottom.
Compared to the ultra-glossy Jet Black iPhone 7, the matte black 7 Plus does a great job of hiding fingerprints. You won’t be constantly wiping it down, making it the perfect colour to pick if you’re the low maintenance type. Old favourites Silver, Gold and Rose Gold all make a return too.
The biggest of all changes to the iPhone 7 Plus' build, though, is one you won't actually be able to spot: it's waterproof. Yes, you can now, finally, give the iPhone a bit of a dunking. Like its little brother, the iPhone 7 Plus is IP67 water-resistant, which means it can be submerged in up to 1m of water for up to 30 minutes.
You're unlikely to do that with it - what would be the point? - but more realistically you'll be able to soundtrack your shower with a Spotify singalong without first wrapping it in a shower cap. And even more realistically, an accidental trip down the toilet won’t mean a trip back to the Apple Store.
The newest addition to the iPhone 7 line-up is the stunning Product (RED) special edition. It swaps Apple’s usually restrained metallic colours for a gorgeous crimson hue.
The shiny rear is just as resistant to fingerprints as other iPhone models (Jet Black version excluded, which is an absolute magnet for the things) but not everyone will appreciate the white glass front. We reckon it would have looked even meaner if Apple had gone for black glass instead.
It’s the first time Apple has given an iPhone the red treatment (having previously stuck to iPods and cases). You won’t have to pay any extra for one, but with a portion of each sale going towards HIV and AIDS charities in Africa, you can feel that little bit better about splashing so much cash on a brand new smartphone.
Plus, you’re guaranteed to stand out from the rest of the black, silver, gold and rose gold-buying crowd.
APPLE IPHONE 7 PLUS power and battery: speed demon
It might be big and bulky compared to the svelte iPhone 7, but there's no way you can call the iPhone 7 Plus slow or sluggish. The four-core A10 Fusion chip inside makes sure things always feel instantly responsive, whether handling apps, multitasking, adding camera effects or even enjoying a spot of Pokemon-catching.
It’s no slouch when it comes to games, either, keeping even demanding titles such as Riptide GP2 and Asphalt 8 ticking along at a healthy frame-rate. Indeed, the holy trinity of screen real estate, stereo speakers and haptic feedback makes this one of the best phones for gaming out there.
Most importantly of all, that huge amount of power doesn’t come at the expense of battery life. More than halfway through the day we still had a very reassuring 51% left - despite the phone having been in constant use since we woke up.
This is a handset that will carry you from day to night without you needed to plug it in, and when you do eventually hit that worrying 20% there's the option of turning on Low Power Mode - which should tide you through post-work drinks. And anyway, you shouldn't be using your phone so much in social situations. It's rude.
Storage is a bit more of a mixed bag. On the one hand, ditching the entry-level 16GB model was absolutely the right move - it was a nightmare having to delete apps or wipe off music every time an iOS update arrived.
A more spacious 256GB model will appease media hoarders, too, as long as they’ve got the cash to cover it, but dropping the 64GB option in favour of 128GB means there’s no middle ground sweet spot any more. It would have been great to have had four choices here, but instead you either make do with 32GB or spend significantly more to jump up to 128GB.
Regardless of capacity, you’ll be looking at the business end of an almost RM4000 bill to take one home - the Apple premium is real, people.
Apple iPhone 7 Plus verdict
The camera has always been one of the iPhone’s greatest weapons against the encroaching army of rapidly improving Android handsets, and the substantial upgrade Apple has squeezed into the iPhone 7 Plus makes it a no-brainer for mobile photographers.
Waterproofing is a welcome touch, bringing it on par with Sony and Samsung phones, and it’s a performance powerhouse when it comes to apps and games. Add in a better battery and you’ve got a clear winner over the vanilla iPhone 7.
Sure, it loses out on paper in a head-to-head with Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7, which has a stylus and a better display for less cash , but if you’re firmly entrenched in camp iOS, it’s time to go big or go home. The iPhone 7’s camera might be improved, but the iPhone 7 Plus’ snapper offers a lot more to play with. So unless you're totally against big screens, this is the iPhone you should buy.