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Apple’s iPhone 7 promises wireless audio revolution

9 minute read

AppleThe Camera Eye: The 7 Plus' new camera set-up

And it’s not just all about the lack of an audio jack in the chassis either, as there are some powerful new features on the camera side of things with the new iPhone. By K Stewart.

An S model in everything but name, the 7 is an iteration of the chassis that debuted with the 6 and was substantially enhanced (strengthened) with the 6S. The latest model should be stronger still with a solid state home button plus splash resistance as key features.

Undoubtedly, the 7’s most contentious change is the removal of the audio jack, something Phil Schiller headlined as representing ‘courage.’

7 and 7 Plus will actually ship with wired Lightning EarPods and an audio jack converter, so it’s a measured form of courage, but the future vision is wireless and embodied in silicon form by W1 — Apple’s first wireless chip — which promises exceptional convenience and in earbud form by the new AirPods.


Open the AirPod’s case beside your iPhone and you get a connect prompt, accept and it then syncs your settings via iCloud across all your devices — including Apple Watch and Mac. No mention of how security works, but seamless transfer of audio from running with Watch, then lounging with iPhone then working at Mac is intriguing.

The AirPods have an IR sensor to detect when in-ear and accelerometers to detect movement, so a tap to activate Siri and a double-tap (and dual beamforming microphones that filter out background noise) to make a call. Scarcely bigger than the wired EarPods, they offer 5 hours battery life and can be charged to 3 hours battery life in 15 minutes with a carrying case that doubles as a charger with 24 hours capacity. The latter is a clever feature but also a reminder that the supplied Lightning adapter won’t let you charge and listen to wired audio at the same time. No accident then, that these iPhones boast the longest battery life of any model to date — and by a significant amount.

It’s also notable that there was no mention of Hi Res audio. Given what that would require of iTunes, and all those 16GB iPhones, maybe that’s in reserve for iPhone 8.

At £159, AirPods are in line with similar products, but the similar look to EarPods reflects similar sound quality. Which is to say very good for the price, but not audiophile.

For those wanting a more conventional approach, Beats has Beats Solo 3 with 40 hours listening, plus PowerBeats 3 and Beats X. How quickly other headphone manufacturers jump onboard will be interesting to see. The AirPods definitely offer an impressive vision, but at heart Apple’s solution is Bluetooth audio with enhanced convenience for iOS/MacOS devices. That market nowadays is likely big enough to prompt support, but none was announced at the show.

One other audio enhancement: this is the first iPhone with stereo speakers and collectively they’re twice as loud as the 6S.

Dual Camera Zoom

On the 7 Plus only, there’s a dual camera system (wide-angle and telephoto) that’s designed to offer a 2X optical zoom that extends to 10X with digital enhancement (double the standard iPhone digital zoom).

Apple aren’t first here, but they’re claiming to be best and previous generations of iPhones mean we should take their claims seriously.

The 7 Plus also offers shallow depth of field control or ‘bokeh’ effect - using the dual cameras and software to create a depth map which the camera uses to simulate the distinctive background defocus/blue. In fact, this feature will require a software update to enable and will be coming along later.

Phil Schiller took care to emphasise Apple isn’t telling anyone to ditch their DSLRs, but with a vast image blown up on the wall behind him and some big name photographers praising the 7 Plus’ performance, it’s yet another significant step forward. RAW support is enhanced and Lightroom on iOS is getting ever more capable compared to the desktop version for on-the-move editing.

The standard iPhone 7 camera is also significantly enhanced. It now gets the optical image stabilisation introduced with the Plus, while a larger f/1.8 aperture allows in 50% more light. A six element lens and high-speed 12-megapixel sensor is 60% faster and yet also more energy efficient.

The True Tone flash is upgraded with four LEDs providing more balanced and 50% brighter light, plus there’s a ‘flicker sensor’ to reduce or eliminate for artificial light strobing effects. The new front-facing selfie camera is also upgraded to be 7-megapixels. 

The way you view the pictures is also being enhanced with a 25% brighter screen and P3 wide colour gamut — the same as is standard in digital cinema — and Instagram were on hand to promise an enhanced app and filters which will exploit this.

Apple has set a reputation for designing powerhouse chips, with last year’s iPhone comfortably outpacing Samsung’s 2016 flagship. The A10 Fusion is a four core chip, with two high efficiency cores, so in addition to being 50% faster than last year’s model it can deliver exceptional power efficiency.

The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are available to pre-order this Friday and ship a week later. Pricing starts at £599 and £719 respectively, but storage has been doubled with 32GB, 128GB and 256GB options. That makes the entry-level models far more usable, while 6S’ are kept in the line-up but rather than having minimal storage space also get doubled memory. Apple’s iPhone upgrade plan is also being expanded into the UK if you want to sign up for a new iPhone every year.

Apple Watch Series 2

It may look the same, but according to Apple it’s been completely re-engineered. While the original was splash-proof and many actually took it swimming, the new version is water-resistant to an industry-standard 50 metres depth. GPS has also been added, so less need to take your iPhone on a run, and a new dual-core S2 chip offers a 50% faster CPU and 200% faster GPU. The screen is also 1000Nits or twice as bright as before and there’s a new white ceramic casing in the mix.

The new models will be available from September 16th with pricing starting at £369 (38mm) / £399 (42mm), while the Series 1 drops to £269 / £299 and also gets a newer, faster processor to keep it competitive. Either watch will be able to run a new app that could prove to be popular — Pokemon Go…

And for anyone who’s got the previous model, a reminder that iOS3 is released on September 13th and even on existing hardware it offers a radically enhanced and far more responsive UI.

No new Macs or iPads at this event, but we’re optimistic the former will get an upgrade soon while the latter have been tweaked with Pro model price reductions and some storage increases for entry level models.

Full press release about all things Apple after the break.

Apple Introduces iPhone 7 & iPhone 7 Plus — The Best, Most Advanced iPhone Ever
Including Breakthrough New Camera Systems, the Best Battery Life Ever in an iPhone and Water & Dust Resistance

SAN FRANCISCO — September 7, 2016 — Apple today introduced iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, the best, most advanced iPhone ever, packed with unique innovations that improve all the ways iPhone is used every day. The new iPhone features new advanced camera systems that take pictures like never before, more power and performance with the best battery life ever on an iPhone, immersive stereo speakers, wide colour system from camera to display, two new beautiful finishes, and is the first water and dust resistant iPhone. iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will be available in more than 25 countries beginning Friday, September 16.

“iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus dramatically improve every aspect of the iPhone experience, reaching a new level of innovation and precision to make this the best iPhone we have ever made,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “The completely redesigned cameras shoot incredible photos and videos day or night, the A10 Fusion chip is the most powerful chip on any smartphone while delivering the best battery life ever in an iPhone, and an entirely new stereo speaker system provides twice the sound, all within the first water and dust resistant iPhone.”

New Advanced Camera Systems
iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus take the world’s most popular camera and make it even better with entirely new camera systems. The 12-megapixel camera includes optical image stabilization on both iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, and a larger ƒ/1.8 aperture and 6-element lens enable brighter, more detailed photos and videos, and a wide colour capture allows for more vibrant colors with more detail. iPhone 7 Plus features the same 12-megapixel wide angle camera as iPhone 7 and adds a 12-megapixel telephoto camera that together offer optical zoom at two times and up to 10 times digital zoom for photos.

Coming later this year, the dual 12-megapixel cameras also enable a new depth-of-field effect, using both cameras on iPhone 7 Plus to capture images, while sophisticated technology including Machine Learning separates the background from the foreground to achieve amazing portraits once possible only with DSLR cameras.

Additional Camera Advancements Include:
New Apple-designed Image Signal Processor, which processes over 100 billion operations on a single photo in as little as 25 milliseconds, resulting in incredible photos and videos;
New 7-megapixel FaceTime HD camera with wide colour capture, advanced pixel technology and auto image stabilisation for even better selfies; and
New Quad-LED True Tone flash that is 50 per cent brighter than iPhone 6s including an innovative sensor that detects the flickering in lights and compensates for it in videos and photos.

More Performance & Battery Life
The new custom-designed Apple A10 Fusion chip features a new architecture that powers these innovations, making it the most powerful chip ever in a smartphone, while also getting more time between charges with the longest battery life ever in an iPhone. The A10 Fusion’s CPU now has four cores, seamlessly integrating two high-performance cores that run up to two times faster than iPhone 6, and two high-efficiency cores that are capable of running at just one-fifth the power of the high-performance cores. Graphics performance is also more powerful, running up to three times faster than iPhone 6 at as little as half the power, enabling a new level of gaming and professional apps.

Both phones include support for up to 25 LTE bands, for the best worldwide roaming in the industry, and LTE Advanced for three times faster data rates than iPhone 6 at up to 450 Mbps.¹ For customers in Japan, iPhone will now support the leading FeliCa contactless technology, bringing the ability to use credit and prepaid cards, including on iD and QuicPay domestic networks, and Suica, Japan’s dominant transit card issued by JR East, the world’s largest transit operator.

An Amazing Audio Experience
New stereo speakers offer amazing and immersive sound that is two times louder than iPhone 6s, offering increased dynamic range of sound and a higher quality speakerphone. The new iPhone comes with EarPods with Lightning connector to deliver incredible sound, as well as a 3.5 mm headphone jack adapter that allows customers to use old headphones and accessories.

New AirPods, Apple’s innovative new wireless headphones, weave simplicity and technology together to reinvent the wireless experience making headphones easy to use. Featuring the new Apple W1 chip, AirPods have extremely efficient wireless communication for a better connection, improved sound and industry-leading battery life. AirPods harness the power of Siri, allowing you to access your favourite personal assistant with just a double tap.

Design That Makes a Splash
The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus come in a gorgeous design in silver, gold and rose gold finishes and introduce two all-new black finishes, a beautiful black finish that has an anodised matte appearance, and an innovative jet black finish that has a deep, high-gloss look. The new jet black finish is accomplished through an innovative nine-step process of anodisation and polish for a uniform, glossy finish. An entirely reengineered enclosure results in a water resistant iPhone offering protection like never before against spills, splashes and dust.²

The new iPhone features the brightest, most colorful Retina HD display ever in an iPhone, now with a wide colour gamut for cinema-standard colours, greater colour saturation and the best colour management in the smartphone industry. An all-new, advanced, solid-state Home button on iPhone 7 is designed to be durable and responsive, and working in tandem with the new Taptic Engine, provides more precise and customisable tactile feedback.

Featuring iOS 10, the Biggest iOS Release Ever
iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus come with iOS 10, the biggest release ever of the world’s most advanced mobile operating system. iOS 10 introduces a huge update to Messages that delivers more expressive and animated ways to message friends and family, the ability for Siri to do more by working with apps, new ways to interact with apps and even more places to use 3D Touch, beautifully redesigned Maps, Photos, Apple Music and News apps, and the Home app, delivering a simple and secure way to manage home automation products in one place. iOS 10 also opens up incredible opportunities for developers with Siri, Maps, Phone and Messages APIs, allowing customers to do more than ever with the apps they love to use.

Pricing & Availability
iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will be available in silver, gold, rose gold and the new black finish in 32GB, 128GB and 256GB models starting at £599, and the new jet black finish will be offered exclusively on the 128GB and 256GB models from http://Apple.com/uk/, Apple Stores, Apple Authorised Resellers and select carriers. Pricing includes VAT.
Through Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Programme customers in the UK can now get an unlocked iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus, with the protection of AppleCare+, choose their carrier and have the opportunity to upgrade to a new iPhone every year. The iPhone Upgrade Programme is available at Apple Stores with monthly payments starting at £33.³
Customers will be able to order iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus beginning Friday, September 9, with availability beginning Friday, September 16, in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, UAE, the UK, US Virgin Islands and the US.
iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will be available in Andorra, Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Greenland, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, Isle of Man, Jersey, Kosovo, Kuwait, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Maldives, Malta, Monaco, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia and Slovenia beginning Friday, September 23. iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will also be available to customers in India beginning Friday, October 7.
The new Apple-designed wireless AirPods including charging case will be available for £159 from http://Apple.com/uk/ and Apple Stores beginning in late October. All iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus models will include EarPods with Lightning Connector and a Lightning to 3.5 mm Headphone Jack Adapter, also sold separately at http://Apple.com/uk/ and Apple Stores, for £29 and £9, respectively.
Apple-designed accessories including leather and silicone cases in a range of colours will be available starting at £35 and iPhone 7 Smart Battery Case will be offered in black and white for £99 from http://Apple.com/uk/ and Apple Stores. Lightning Docks in several colour-matching metallic finishes will also be available for £49. Pricing include VAT.
Every customer who buys iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus from Apple will be offered free Personal Setup, in-store or online⁴, to help them customise their iPhone by setting up email, showing them new apps from the App Store and more.
Anyone who wants to learn more about iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus or iOS 10 can register for the free workshops offered at every Apple Store.

Tags: Technology