It’s official — the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are the real deal. They’ll be available on Sept. 16, starting at $649 for the smaller model and $769 for the Plus. That’s all well and good, but I’m not convinced to upgrade this year.
I’m not just saying this to be contrarian. The iPhone 7 will be a great upgrade for someone still hanging on to their iPhone 4s or 5. I’m the proud owner of an iPhone 6s Plus, and I plan on using it for awhile, and I’d recommend anyone who can hold on at least one more year to wait along with me.
The obvious reason is the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack. In the long run, we may look back at this decision and understand it the way that we understand why Apple killed the floppy disc and CD drive. But for now, it’s a serious pain in the butt. Sure, the iPhone 7 will come with Lightning EarPods and an adapter for older headphones, but that will just make it more difficult to use my current favorite headphones (plus, Apple’s pack-in headphones have never exactly been comfortable in my ears). You’re better off waiting for the market to fill up with truly great Bluetooth and Lightning alternatives so you can pick up a truly great pair when you get your new phone. Let others figure out what works and what doesn’t.
If you’re on the 6s or 6s Plus now, you can get almost of the improvements of iOS 10 without upgrading. You’ll be able to use 3D Touch, which now has some actual uses, from notifications on the lock screen and in Control Center. They have the same physical measurements as the newer phones. All holdouts will be missing are the new camera, stereo speakers and water resistance.
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If you’re on a 5s or 6, you may be wondering what 3D Touch is all about, but those devices are primed to get most of the benefits of iOS 10 (as long as you have an iPhone 5 or later, Apple claims that you’ll be able to run the new OS).
If you’re in a storage crunch, that 32GB minimum and new 256GB option may be tempting. Hopefully you had the foresight to skip a 16GB iPhone, but if you didn’t, you can get 2TB of iCloud space in the meantime.
No older phone is going to be able to beat the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus on performance with its A10 Fusion CPU, its new cameras (including the Plus’ dual camera system) or its waterproofing. The first two are things that get better each year. As for the latter, well, try to keep your phone out of the toilet.
But something looms in the distance — the iPhone 8. In general, it’s a bit too soon to make that kind of call, but the 2017 model is already looming large over the iPhone 7. While this year’s phones are incremental upgrades from the iPhone 6, the next version, which will be the 10th anniversary of the original iPhone, is expected by analysts to be a major departure. Rumors include an edge-to-edge display and the complete removal of the home button.
If you have an old iPhone that’s running slowly, you should upgrade. There’s no point owning a smartphone that drives you mad and can’t update. But if you have something that you’re happy with and can last another year, you should wait for new features that will change the game.