Why I Bought the iPhone 7 Plus Instead of the iPhone 7

To say that my iPhone 6 was starting to show its age would be an understatement. For months, I had been struggling to insert my Lightning cable in just the right way for the phone to charge, which included striking all sorts of awkward yoga poses with the wire.

I finally had had enough. But what new iPhone to get?

On the surface, it seemed like a no-brainer. The iPhone 7 Plus has so many advantages over the regular iPhone 7, including a bigger screen.

But then I started thinking about the size issue. Do I really want a phone that’s this big? I asked myself? I had reviewed both the 4.7-inch iPhone 7 and the 5.5-inch 7 Plus, so I definitely knew the difference in day-to-day use.

For me, it’s the difference between being able to comfortably carry a compact phone in my front pocket -- the iPhone 7 -- or having the taller Plus beast jab me in the upper thigh every time I climb stairs. And I don’t wear skinny jeans.

On some days, to avoid discomfort I felt compelled to throw the Plus in my back pocket. But that’s not really something I wanted to do walking around New York City.

Despite that one big phone trade-off, when it actually came time to pull the trigger, I opted for the Plus.

For one thing, only the iPhone 7 Plus has a dual-lens camera, which gives you a true 2X optical zoom. It makes a huge difference when taking photos of subjects that are farther away, as evidenced by our shoot-out with the Galaxy S7. I definitely appreciated the flexibility when shooting a gorgeous image of the Empire State Building lit up at night. And I didn’t have to bother cropping in after the fact, which can result in a loss of detail.

The bigger screen also turned out to be a bigger deal than I thought, especially when watching video. I’m much more eager to binge-watch Netflix shows like Black Mirror on the iPhone 7 Plus when I don’t feel as if I’m squinting to see the action. Just as important, having the extra real estate allows me to peck out messages and replies with fewer typos; there’s simply more breathing room for the keyboard -- or the iOS keyboard app of your choosing.

The biggest advantage the iPhone 7 Plus has over the iPhone 7 is battery life. There’s more room for a larger battery in the Plus, and it shows in everyday use.

While both of these phones last longer than my iPhone 6, the Plus routinely had 50 percent juice left after a day of emailing, surfing, Facebooking, tweeting and some gaming, versus 20 percent or less for the regular iPhone 7.

For me, getting the iPhone 7 Plus meant not having to invest in a battery case or portable charger, which adds bulk. And I probably would have sprung for one with the iPhone 7.

That brings me to the price difference. The iPhone 7 Plus I bought costs $869 with 128GB of storage, compared with $749 for the iPhone 7 with the same amount of storage. That’s a delta of $120.

Apple iPhone 7 Plus

A popular battery case like the Mophie Juice Pack Air costs $99, so we’re really talking about an overall difference of only $20. And that’s a worthwhile splurge when you're getting a more capable camera, a more immersive entertainment experience and fewer typos.

Photo credit: Jeremy Lips/Tom's Guide

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.