iPhone 7 vs iPhone 6s: Should you upgrade to Apple's latest phone?


If you’ve got an iPhone 6s, you’re probably already looking at the iPhone 7 with interested – and why not? It’s certainly one of the best-looking handsets on the market today, and although it looks similar to the 6s, it features a raft of improvements underneath. So what’s so good about the iPhone 7, and if you have an iPhone 6s, is it still worth upgrading? Here, we’ll take you through all the new features and specs of the iPhone 7 – from the camera to the new processor – so you can see whether it’s worth the upgrade or not.

iPhone 7 vs iPhone 6s: Features

Camera

The iPhone 7 might use a 12-megapixel camera – just like the iPhone 6s – but Apple has introduced one or two changes that make it a better snapper overall. The iPhone 7 has an aperture of f/1.8, which means low-light performance should be better. Pictures in less than ideal conditions should also be better, thanks to the addition of optical image stabilisation in the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus. What’s more, the FaceTime HD camera has switched up from a 5-megapixel unit to a 7-megapixel unit, while a quad-LED flash should result in brighter, more natural-looking pictures. In practice, we found the iPhone 7’s camera to be superior, although it did throw up some strange digital artefacts when it encountered shadows. However, it’s likely that’s mainly down to Apple’s new post-processing software, so it could be fixed in a later software update. 

Audio

Although some will see it as a step backwards, Apple has removed the 3.5mm headphone socket from the iPhone 7, citing “courage” as the main reason for doing so. Whatever the reason, Apple is at least shipping every iPhone with a Lightning to 3.5mm adapter, to ensure the impact of the change is minimal. The removal of the headphone jack isn’t in vain, either; the iPhone 7 has two loudspeakers, as to the single unit on the iPhone 6s, so it can play music in stereo sound. After testing it for the last few days, it’s clear the iPhone 7 offers a step up in external sound, and while it still sounds tinny, it does offer a solid stereo image. What’s more, the sound doesn’t totally disappear if you hold the handset in the wrong way – one of our biggest issues with the iPhone 6s. 

Water-resistance

Several sources noted that the iPhone 6s offered better water-resistance than previous models, but the iPhone 7 makes it official with IP67 certification. This means the phone will survive a drop in 1m of water for 30 minutes – but it’s probably best to avoid testing this since Apple still doesn’t cover water damage in the iPhone 7’s warranty. 

Home button

The iPhone 7 sees a redesign of the home button, making it Force Touch-capable. The result? It may feel like a mechanical button, but it isn’t one. Apple says the new feature could be used across iOS 10 and third-party apps to add another layer to the operating experience. After having a good go of the iPhone 7, the new Home button is a revelation compared to that of the iPhone 6s. It might look like the Home button you’re used to, but pressing it gives you a haptic nudge, just like using 3D Touch. Although we’re yet to see how useful the feature will be when it comes to apps, it’s obvious the new, non-mechanical home button will be less likely to break than in previous iPhones.

iPhone 7 vs iPhone 6s: Design

On the iPhone 7, Apple has removed the antennae lines from the rear of the iPhone, plus the eagle-eyed will also notice the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack (we’ll get to that later). The Space Grey finish is no longer, to be replaced by a Jet Black gloss finish and a matte Black option. And one more thing: those opting for the Jet Black iPhone 7 will be able to choose between 128GB or 256GB models; Apple has no plans to release a 32GB version of the new finish. 

Oh, and one other thing about that Jet Black finish. Apple has admitted that its new Jet Black finish is pretty vulnerable to wear and tear, and could get what it’s calling ‘micro-abrasions’ pretty easily.

iPhone 7 vs iPhone 6s: Specs

Processor

The iPhone 7 uses a A10 Fusion processor, and that means it’s by far the most powerful iPhone ever; Apple states the new handset is twice as fast as the iPhone 6s. The A10 Fusion is a quad-core processor, but it’s actually split into two parts. Two high-performance processors handle the computing intensive tasks, while two efficiency cores take care of lighter loads – and give you better battery life.

Battery life

The iPhone 7’s new A10 processor helps to give the new handset a speed boost over the iPhone 6s, but it also increases the time between charges. Apple says the iPhone 7 will give you two extra hours of battery life compared to the iPhone 6s. That works out to 14 hours of talk time, 12 hours of 4G or 14 hours of Wi-Fi browsing.

Display

The screen resolution of the iPhone 7 remains identical to that of the iPhone 6s: a 4.7in Retina screen with a resolution of 750 x 1,334. However, Apple says the new screen is around 25% brighter, and has a wider colour gamut. With both phones side by side, the differences are clear. Colours seem to pop more on the 7, and the screen also appears to be brighter – although it’s still not a match for the exemplary Samsung Galaxy S7 Super AMOLED screen.

iPhone 7 vs iPhone 6s: Storage and price

Apple has shaken up the storage options for the iPhone 7, providing the handset in 32GB, 128GB or 256GB variants. So this means the almost useless 16GB is finally eliminated from the lineup; but so has the somewhat more expansive 64GB handset, too.

The iPhone 7 starts at £599 for the 32GB version, moving to £699 for the 128GB model and £799 for the top-of-the-range 256GB handset. Apple has also updated the memory options for the iPhone 6s, so you can now pick up a 32GB handset for £499 or a 128GB handset for £599.

iPhone 7 vs iPhone 6s: Final verdict

The iPhone 7 might look almost identical to the iPhone 6s, but in truth, it offers a collection of small changes and refinements over the previous handset. In isolation, each of those changes is pretty unremarkable, but combined they make for a smartphone that’s a solid step up from the iPhone 6s. If you have an iPhone 6s, features such as the iPhone 7’s water-resistance, faster speeds and better battery life will have a noticeable impact day-to-day – and if you’re considering an upgrade from an iPhone 6 then the difference could be night and day.

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