iPhone 7 Plus
As usual, I have to rely on purchasing new hardware for both ScreenCastsOnline use and reviewing, so I managed to order the new iPhone and Apple Watch series 2 the minute they became available.
Off I headed to the Liverpool One Apple Store on launch day and picked up a 32GB Silver iPhone 7 Plus to act as the new ScreenCastsOnline demo iPhone. I’ve been using the larger Plus size devices since they came out and I’m more than comfortable with the size. I decided not to get a case this time and try it unprotected for a while.
The first thing that surprised me was the new Taptic Engine and the “fixed” Home button. The Home button is no longer an actual button but a fixed plate that vibrates when you press it. The physical sensation is produced by the Taptic Engine and is not as convincing as the movement of the new Trackpads. It doesn’t actually feel as though it moves, but the sensation is positive. After a very short you get used to it, in fact, I think I prefer it to the traditional Home Button.
Interestingly, the taptic engine is one of the subtle but game changing features of the new iPhone. During use, you’ll notice small topic feedback pulses when using different apps, and the sensation is transformative. I especially like the topic feedback when scrolling a pick list such as dates or times. It really is a great sensation.
The cameras (the Plus has a dual camera) are as good as you might expect and the ability to switch on the fly from wide to telephoto is great – even for video.
For a bit of fun (and knowing that my personal iPhone 7 Plus would be with me soon), I decided to do a brief test and record it for posterity. See the video below:
Much to my amusement, the video was picked up by the local press after posting it to Twitter.
Performance as you might expect is stunning, although the difference from the iPhone 6s Plus to the 7 Plus isn’t as major as you might think.
The elephant in the room of course is the lack of a audio port – for me it’s a real non-issue. The supplied Lightning earbuds sound great and you get a dongle to attach standard earphones to your iPhone if you need it. I’m really looking forward to trying the new Air Pods in October.
My personal iPhone 7 Plus arrived a week or two later – I opted for the Black 256GB model. After trying that without a case for two weeks, I decided to acquire an Apple Black Silicone case. Whilst it felt great without a case, it did feel a bit slippery and although I hadn’t dropped it, there was one close call. I thought I’d end up with a case, hence my decision not to go for the Jet Black.
Overall, the iPhone 7 is a solid upgrade with some innovative features that give some clues to the iPhones future direction.
Apple Watch Series 2
The release of watchOS 3, will probably negate the reason to upgrade to the Apple Watch for many people, the performance benefits on an existing Apple Watch are that good. However, if you want an extra boost of performance, a brighter screen, built in GPS and true waterproofing, the Apple Watch Series 2 is for you.
Mine duly arrived on launch date and it was a breeze to pair it to the new iPhone 7 Plus. I went for the Stainless Steel 42mm version with the cheapest band possible. Sensibly, Apple have maintained compatibility with the original wristbands. The new Apple Watch is allegedly slightly thicker than the old watch, but no so much as you’d be able to tell.
Performance is great but the thing that really shines is the redesign of the Apple Watch OS – They’ve boosted performance and removed most if not all of the friction points. Interestingly, the changes to the way the button and Digital Crown work have caused me to revert back to having them on the right hand side of the watch rather than the left side as before. I can’t quite work out why!
I’ll be covering the changes to watchOS 3 in a new video tutorial next month in the magazine (this month for ScreenCastsOnline members). Suffice to say, if you don’t need to swim with the watch and you don’t need the built in GPS, there’s no real compelling reason to upgrade this time. The performance benefits and redesign of watchOS 3 will keep existing Apple Watch users happy for some time to come.