The iPhone 7 Is Here. Is It Worth the Upgrade?

Sep 07, 2016

Steve Jobs' reality distortion field surrounding new iPhone iterations may have faded away at this point, but there's still plenty of excitement when one hits the streets.

For some people, the decision to upgrade to the latest and greatest is a no-brainer. It may be about bragging rights. Or their current iPhone might be several generations old and they've been waiting for an excuse to buy a new one.

But for the rest of the Apple universe -- those with an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6s (or their plus-sized cousins) -- is the iPhone 7 worth the upgrade? Ultimately, it's a personal decision, of course. But now that Apple has officially introduced us to the iPhone 7, here's a look at the pros and cons, to help you make up your mind.

PROS

Dual camera. Perhaps the most noticeable upgrade the iPhone 7 Plus offers is what sounds like a significantly improved camera system. Two sensors will take a picture simultaneously, each focusing on different ways of capturing color. Those pictures will be stitched together automatically, giving you a brighter, more detailed image. Given that people use their phone's camera so heavily and frequently, this could be reason enough to make the switch.

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More memory. The 16 GB iPhone has become such an albatross for Apple that Google has mocked it in television commercials. Now that option is gone, with 32 GB being the entry level option. That puts the iPhone 7 on par with most Android phones, and makes it less likely that you'll run out of storage space.

Water resistance. If you're prone to clumsy episodes in which your phone ends up getting wet, Apple's decision to increase the water resistance of the iPhone might seem like a Godsend. It's certainly an improvement, but it's ultimately probably not enough on its own to prompt an upgrade, as there are several waterproof third-party cases on the market.

Better processor. The improved hardware inside the phone isn't something to write off, especially if you've got an iPhone 6. Apps will run faster and, in some cases, you could see graphical improvements.

CONS

No headphone jack. Apart from the camera, this is the biggest notable change of the iPhone 7, and it's a controversial one. While Apple, naturally, has an alternative, lots of people have invested heavily in better quality third-party earbuds and headphones for their devices. The new iPhone will come with earbuds that work via the Lightning port, as well as a dongle for connecting traditional headphones. But if you want Apple's wireless AirPod earbuds, a pair will cost a hefty $159 extra. (They'll also be especially easy to lose, since they're wireless, many people have griped on social media.)

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No major upgrades. The fact of the matter is this doesn't feel like a generational leap, which is surprising given Apple's typical track record of making sweeping upgrades when iPhones get new numbers. (Tweaks to the hardware and big software upgrades tend to come in the "s" models.) That makes it harder to justify the cost.

Price. The latest models of anything don't come cheap. And while there's no price increase on the iPhone 7, the fact that you can get the iPhone 6 and 6s for so much less now makes them both a more appealing upgrade for people on a budget. Ultimately, you're getting a slightly dated but still very relevant phone for a lot less money.

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Bigger changes coming. Next year is the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, and The Wall Street Journal reports that truly big changes could be in store for that momentous version. Among the whispered improvements are a curved screen, eliminating the bezel around the iPhone's screen, and ditching the home button for a fingerprint sensor on the display. It's all rumor, of course, but if you're looking for a truly different iPhone, it might be worth the wait.

And hey, if one doesn't appear with all of these great features, the iPhone 7 will be cheaper to buy at that point.

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