Apple iPhone 7 hands-on and first impressions

Thomas Wellburn
September 21, 2016

Ahead of our review which should be going live sometime tomorrow, we got an exclusive Apple iPhone 7 hands-on at the Three UK event on Friday.

Fighting through a wave of journalists, we managed to give it a quick spin and get some first impressions of Apple’s latest flagship device.

Let’s start with the obvious, this isn’t technically the flagship anymore. While the iPhone 6s Plus was essentially a larger version of the standard 6s, things are a bit different this time round. That accolade should probably be given to the iPhone 7 Plus, with its dual-camera and higher resolution panel offering a little bit extra at the expense of more cash.

In the box


The box was standard Apple, with a minimal white appearance and all the accessories neatly tucked in under the device. The new and improved lighting headphones get their own box, plus there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack to lightning adapter if you want to use your own. On the topic of the bundled headphones, Apple never really said much regarding their quality. Having a brief listen to them at the event, we never really noticed much difference between these and last years model.



Comparing this with previous devices, little has changed on the design front. The last major iPhone refresh happened with the 6, when the curved body became a staple going forward. The 7 doesn’t buck this trend, keeping that same shape that everybody knows and loves. Dimensions are identical to previous models at 138.3 x 67.1. It’s supposedly 1mm thinner than the 6s but honestly, you’d be hard pressed to see a difference. The removal of the headphone jack really hasn’t helped to slim it down further, contrary to what people previously thought. There’s also now a second speaker port on the bottom, though it doesn’t actually function and serves only as a dummy for added symmetry in the design language.


On the back, the first thing you’ll notice is a subtle change in antenna arrangement. Rather than cutting along the top and bottom like was saw on the iPhone 6, they now follow the curvature of the handset. It’s a much sleeker appearance, though they’re hardly discreet. If you want them blended in with the case as much as possible, opt for the beautiful Jet Black version, which does a great job of disguising them.



Trying out the user interface on the Apple iPhone 7 was admittedly a joy and we’re sure that the extra 1GB RAM is getting put to good use. Powered by the latest A10 Fusion chipset, Apple claims that it’s 40 percent faster than the A9 found in the iPhone 6s. Opening and switching between the numerous applications I had open caused no perceivable lag whatsoever, while the improved Home Button felt much more premium than the ‘clicker’ we’re all used to. That said, we did notice some issues with the unlock implementation during our Apple iPhone 7 hands-on. The button is incredibly sensitive and we found ourselves inadvertently hitting it quite a few times by mistake.



The rear camera was an interesting one, as it definitely seemed better than the iPhone 6s in low-light but overall image quality wasn’t much different. There seemed to be some improvement going on with the software processing but again differences are subtle. The inclusion of optical image stabilisation has helped with providing longer shutter speeds, while the widened f/1.8 aperture is supposedly 60% brighter. None of that really enhances the image quality per se, it just helps the handset work better in the dark. The camera app also remains unchanged and there’s still no manual mode, so it’s a case of waiting for third party developers if you want to take full advantage of the new shooter.

The front camera seemed a lot better, with a much improved shooter that was clearer and performed better in low-light.

Apple iPhone 7 hands-on: Conclusion


So that’s our Apple iPhone 7 hands-on and first impressions! Honestly, it feels more like an evolution rather than a revolution but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You’d be hard pressed to see many differences on first impression but there’s a subtle refinement to what’s going on inside. The removal of the headphone jack still feels a bit backwards to me and if it’s all about space, why don’t they just downsize it to a 2.5mm version instead?

If you have the iPhone 6s already, there’s nothing really groundbreaking here to make you upgrade. However if you’re still rocking the 6 or below, it’s worth making the jump to get the latest features.

For more reviews, visit What Mobile’s dedicated reviews page.

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