What happens when an Android Central editor switches to an iPhone after six years on Android?
The quick take
It's not a hugely interesting year for the iPhone — as evidenced by the fact that much of the chatter around Apple's latest has to do with minor color differences, or with what the 7 series doesn't have. Even so, the iPhone 7 Plus packs enough technical innovation to rival — and in some cases beat — top-tier Android phones. The 7 Plus looks good, is approachable and easy to use, and does pretty much everything you'd want from a modern smartphone. But despite genuinely innovative technical feats like the telephoto camera and Taptic Engine, it's clear a more substantial upgrade awaits in 2017.
Solid, sturdy build quality
Excellent camera, neat zoom features
Reliable all-day (often multi-day) battery
No headphone jack
Design iconic, but equally dated
Bulky size compared to 5.5-inch Androids
Expensive SIM-free price
iPhone 7 Plus Full Review
OK, so first things first — why are we reviewing the iPhone 7 Plus on Android Central ? Simple: The iPhone is a big deal. It's the biggest single competitor to the Android space as a whole, and that alone makes it worth our time. The 7 Plus in particular, with its 5.5-inch screen, lands around the middle of the Android field. And as the appetite for larger phones grows, the 7 Plus is the model that's seen greater demand.
There's one pretty big difference between the iPhone and most of the phones we review here at AC — obviously it's not an Android device. Nevertheless, we're still going to give it a fair shake, and treat it as we would any other flagship phone. Aside from the fact that I've mainly used Android phones for the past six years, I'm mostly going into this review with an open mind.
About this review
We're publishing this review after just over a week with an unlocked European-spec iPhone 7 Plus (model A1784) in silver with 32GB of storage. We've been using the phone on Vodafone UK in areas with mixed 3G and 4G coverage, mainly in Manchester and London. We began running iOS 10.0.1, before receiving an update to 10.0.2 about halfway through the review process.
Because we like to live dangerously, we didn't use a case throughout our time with the phone.
The same, but different
iPhone 7 Plus Hardware
When a friend first handed me an iPhone 6 Plus more than two years ago, the first thing I did was almost drop it directly onto a glass table. By the standards of the time, the 6 Plus seemed big, slippery and more than a little unwieldy — not the sort of phone you'd want to use without a case. Two generations on, although a lot has changed on the inside — and to a certain extent, around the back — the experience of wrangling this 5.5-inch slab of metal and glass remains largely identical. Fortunately, in the intervening period I've also gotten a bit better at handling oversized phones. It's a little slippery, but not horribly so, and I haven't felt in any huge danger of spiking it onto a table or sidewalk like I almost did to my friend's 6 Plus.
You already know how the new iPhone looks and feels.
Chances are you too already know what the iPhone looks and feels like. In a break with its usual cadence, Apple has kept its iPhone designs largely unchanged for a third generation running. As such, from the front, the iPhone 7 Plus is basically identical to a 6 or 6s Plus. Around the back, the differences become more pronounced, with less offensive plastic antenna bands that now run along the top and bottom edge, and the 7 Plus's standout hardware upgrade, that dual rear camera module. Yet again there's a camera bump, which I'm fine with, given that it usually means better image quality. The change in antenna lines, combined with the new mold of the camera bump — a part of the chassis, not a separate bit of metal — makes the 7 look a little more organic and cohesive than before.
Nevertheless, it's a riff on a two-year-old design. Iconic, to be sure, but also beginning to look a bit dated. Next to many 5.5-inch (and even 5.7-inch) Android phones, the 7 Plus is positively bulbous — there's a lot of space on either side of what's already a reasonably big screen.