Apple iPhone 7 review: Jacked up

GSMArena team, 20 September 2016.

Display

While the display may hide an improved panel, it still has the same specs in terms of size and resolution: a 4.7" unit with a resolution of 750 x 1334 pixels (that's 326ppi). It's a LED-backlit IPS LCD screen with RGB matrix. It's also 3D Touch-enabled, a technology we first saw on the iPhone 6s.

Apple iPhone 7 review

The new Retina display is 25% brighter and conforms to an even wider color gamut (cinema-standard) though few users will notice a change. Those are the upgrades over the already excellent screen that the iPhone 6s had.

The iPhone 7 offers a maximum brightness of 560nits at the far end of its brightness slider, which is slightly better than the iPhone 6. If you leave it on Auto, however, the screen will readily go as high as 660 nits in bright light conditions, which is certainly nice.

The blacks offered by the new Retina screen are deep and combined with the high brightness, the screen scores an excellent contrast ratio of 1603:1.

The best part of the new screen is its color calibration. This doesn't have anything to do with the wider color gamut mentioned above but rather the accuracy with which it reproduces the most common set of colors we see in everyday life.

In this respect the iPhone 7 screen offers an average DeltaE of 1.7, which is class leading and so far, only the Galaxy Note5 and the Lumia 950 family were capable of such an excellent color reproduction. All individual colors stay well below a deviation DeltaE of 4. So the iPhone 7 screen is among the few phones on the market, which are perfectly color calibrated to be used professionally in color critical environment.

Display test 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Apple iPhone 7 0.35 561 1603
Apple iPhone 7 (max auto) 0.40 656 1640
Apple iPhone 6s 0.36 536 1481
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 0.43 590 1382
Apple iPhone SE 0.77 618 804
Samsung Galaxy S7 0.00 391
Samsung Galaxy S7 max auto 0.00 563
Huawei P9 0.46 500 1094
OnePlus 3 0.00 433
Sony Xperia X 0.44 539 1219
Xiaomi Mi 5 0.51 628 1227
HTC 10 0.29 428 1543

Apple offers the so-called Night Shift mode which adjusts the colors in your device's display to make sure that your eyes aren't exposed to the bright blue light after sunset. You can choose the exact start and end hours and your screen will be yellow-ish during that time.

In bright sunlight the iPhone 7 screen faired exceptionally well and remained legible all the time.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+
    4.615
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
    4.439
  • OnePlus 3
    4.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    4.376
  • HTC One A9
    4.274
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7
    4.247
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    4.241
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    4.09
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    4.019
  • Vivo Xplay5 Elite
    3.983
  • OnePlus X
    3.983
  • Apple iPhone 7
    3.964
  • Oppo R7s
    3.964
  • Huawei P9 Plus
    3.956
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)
    3.918
  • Samsung Galaxy C5
    3.911
  • Samsung Galaxy C7
    3.896
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    3.895
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 outdoor
    3.879
  • Samsung Galaxy J2 outdoor
    3.873
  • Samsung Galaxy A8
    3.859
  • Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016)
    3.817
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    3.816
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.802
  • Xiaomi Redmi Pro
    3.798
  • LG V20 Max auto
    3.798
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
    3.789
  • Apple iPhone 6s
    3.783
  • Meizu Pro 5
    3.781
  • Microsoft Lumia 650
    3.772
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)
    3.756
  • Oppo F1 Plus
    3.709
  • Vivo X5Pro
    3.706
  • Sony Xperia X Compact
    3.694
  • Apple iPhone SE
    3.681
  • Samsung Galaxy A7
    3.679
  • Meizu PRO 6
    3.659
  • BlackBerry Priv
    3.645
  • Apple iPhone 6s Plus
    3.53
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016)
    3.523
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.523
  • Acer Jade Primo
    3.521
  • Microsoft Lumia 950
    3.512
  • Oppo R7 Plus
    3.499
  • Samsung Galaxy J7
    3.422
  • Meizu MX5
    3.416
  • LG V20
    3.402
  • Oppo R7
    3.32
  • Xiaomi Mi 5
    3.24
  • Samsung Galaxy J2
    3.235
  • Sony Xperia X Performance
    3.234
  • Motorola Moto X Play
    3.222
  • Huawei P9
    3.195
  • Lenovo Vibe Shot
    3.113
  • Motorola Moto X Force
    3.105
  • LG Nexus 5X
    3.092
  • Huawei Mate S
    3.073
  • Microsoft Lumia 640 XL
    3.065
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    3.023
  • Sony Xperia X
    2.989
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.97
  • Huawei Mate 8
    2.949
  • Sony Xperia XA Ultra
    2.906
  • LG G5
    2.905
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Sony Xperia Z5
    2.876
  • Microsoft Lumia 550
    2.851
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3 Pro
    2.803
  • Sony Xperia Z5 compact
    2.784
  • LG V10
    2.744
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3
    2.735
  • Sony Xperia M5
    2.69
  • Huawei P9 Lite
    2.679
  • Vivo V3Max
    2.659
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    2.641
  • Sony Xperia XA
    2.609
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    2.574
  • LeEco Le Max 2
    2.567
  • Microsoft Lumia 640
    2.563
  • Lenovo Moto G4
    2.544
  • Oppo F1
    2.528
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
    2.525
  • Huawei Honor 7 Lite / Honor 5c
    2.506
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    2.503
  • Oppo F1s
    2.481
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus
    2.473
  • Huawei G8
    2.471
  • Huawei nova
    2.467
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Lenovo Vibe K5
    2.459
  • Huawei Honor 7
    2.406
  • Sony Xperia E5
    2.386
  • ZUK Z1 by Lenovo
    2.382
  • Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016)
    2.378
  • HTC 10
    2.378
  • Huawei nova plus
    2.329
  • HTC One E9+
    2.305
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • Lenovo Vibe K4 Note
    2.254
  • Sony Xperia C5 Ultra
    2.253
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (MediaTek)
    2.249
  • Sony Xperia C4 Dual
    2.235
  • Xiaomi Mi Note
    2.234
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    2.233
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • Huawei P8
    2.196
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 2
    2.166
  • OnePlus Two
    2.165
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • LG Aka
    2.145
  • Archos 50 Diamond
    2.134
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2.119
  • Acer Liquid X2
    2.084
  • Huawei P8lite
    2.078
  • Moto G 3rd gen max manual
    2.026
  • Xiaomi Mi Max
    1.996
  • Sony Xperia E4g
    1.972
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • Meizu m3 note
    1.923
  • BlackBerry Leap
    1.892
  • Meizu m2 note
    1.892
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • ZTE Nubia Z9 mini
    1.759
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Asus Zenfone Selfie
    1.68
  • Motorola Moto E (2nd Gen)
    1.675
  • ZTE Nubia Z9
    1.659
  • Jolla Jolla
    1.605
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • HTC Desire C
    1.3
  • Sony Xperia C
    1.283
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215

Battery life

The iPhone 7 is equipped with a non-removable Li-Po 1960mAh battery, which is about 15% beefier than the one of the iPhone 6s. There is also the new energy-efficient Apple A10 Fusion chip, which combined with the new battery and optimized iOS 10, should offer a longer battery life than before.

And in case you need your phone by the end of its charge, the Low-Power mode, which you can enable manually, should save your iPhone 7 from dying faster once the charge drops below 20%.

The iPhone 7 posted very balanced scores across the board - it can do about 11 and a half hours of 3G calls or web browsing on a single charge, while you can watch videos for about 9 hours. The standby endurance turned out average and thus the final rating of the average 61 hours.

Apple iPhone 7 review

The rating means two days and thirteen hours is how long a single battery charge will last you if you use the iPhone 7 for an hour each of telephony, web browsing, and video playback daily. Such usage pattern may not apply to your own use case but we've established it so our battery results are comparable across devices.

An interesting point to be made is that on the surface these results may seem like what we got from last year's iPhone 6s. But you also have got to remember that due to the change of the battery testing methodology, we conducted the web browsing and video playback tests back then with a screen brightness of 150nits instead of the 200nits of brightness that we use now as standard. Hence, if screen brightness levels were to be equalized, it would become apparent that the new iPhone 7 indeed offers an improvement in battery life.

The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you're interested in the nitty-gritties. You can also check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we've tested will compare under your own typical use.

Connectivity

The Apple iPhone 7 comes with a bunch of wireless connectivity features. It supports faster LTE Cat. 9 (up to 450Mpbs down, 150Mbps up) and has one of the widest LTE band coverage we've seen. Regular 2G and 3G connectivity is all safely covered as well with a multitude of supported network bands.

The iPhone 7 also supports the latest Voice over LTE (VoLTE), HD Voice and Wi-Fi calling protocols, but those are carrier dependent features so not everyone will get to enjoy them.

Naturally, the latest Wi-Fi and Bluetooth standards are dully covered. There is also support for NFC, but its functionality is only limited to Apple's region-restricted Apple Pay system.

The iPhone 7 uses a proprietary Lightning connector for wired data transfers, charging, and audio. There is limited USB Host support - you can attach some certified accessories or access your digital camera storage via proprietary adapters sold separately. You can pair a Bluetooth keyboard to the phone should you need this sort of peripheral.

Now that there is no 3.5mm audio jack on board the phone, you can use the provided Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter to continue using your favorite pair of wired headphones with the iPhone.

Or you can get Apple's new wireless AirPods. The most interesting thing about them from connectivity point of view is that they come with an extra chip Apple calls W1, which makes Bluetooth pairing much faster and easier.

Apple iPhone 7 review

It's a proprietary chip but we may see other certified MiFi Bluetooth headsets come with it down the road as well. We'll have to wait and see.