A typical Apple event must have certain boxes that must be checked. A few major leaks a few days before an announcement (check! We even had a few leaked pictures). A mind-bending controversy that hogs headlines hours before (check! Samsung obliged by hotting things up literally with its Note 7 battery issue and a global recall). Huge queues outside hours before the event (check! The line snaked around the block and then some).
Some really ‘cool’ food and drinks as breakfast (check! Sliders and cold-pressed juices ruled the day). One big surprise announcement that didn’t get leaked out (the Apple Watch Nike + Edition took most people by surprise). But irrespective of all the mandatory boxes that got checked, the star of the event was the iPhone 7.
Apple presented 10 things about the new device that mattered. Let’s look at seven that really do.
You can showcase all kinds of beautifully shot product films, you can call it an all-new seamless design and you can tout its all-new high gloss jet-black colour option. At the end of the day, the 7 is the same phone as before. It’s surprising that Apple didn’t go for a radical changeover. With the depth of design talent and resources it has, Apple could change the look and feel of its phones every six months if it wanted. But it has chosen not to. Maybe, because it is waiting for the 10th anniversary of the iPhone (next year) to come up with a major facelift. Still, the jet black looks stunning.
It’s all new, it doesn’t need to be pressed anymore, it is force sensitive and uses haptic feedback intelligently. This is a pretty good upgrade as it performs different functions depending upon the pressure you apply to it and can be set up to give distinctly unique feedback for messages and notifications.
Water And Dust Resistant
Finally! What every phone in the world should have been 10 years ago has finally started to happen all across. And now that the iPhone 7 is water and dust resistant (w&dR), the competition will have to catch up. My prediction, in six months time, no phone priced more than Rs 20,000 will manage to sell if it is not w&dR.
Dual-lens Camera And Better Optics
Two lenses at the back and one of them is a tele-photo lens. And Apple uses them intelligently to give you optical zoom, depth of field as well as DSLR-style images. But the twin optical wonder is only on the 7 Plus. The 7 also gets some nice shiny, new camera tricks. Such as a new 12-megapixel sensor that is faster and captures more light, a new True Tone flash, a flicker sensor and a 7-megapixel front camera.
3.5mm Headphone Jack
Actually the lack of it. Apple calls this feature ‘courage’. Courage to move audio technology forward. Ear pods that connect via the lightning port are included in the box. A 3.5mm adapter is in there too. It is unlike Apple to throw in an add-on accessory, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Air Pod Headphones
Not included, but innovative. Apple isn’t just getting rid of the 3.5mm jack, it wants to move all audio to wireless. The AirPods are the reason why you might just do it. A container box that connects to the phone as soon as its opened, two small buds with built-in microphones, infrared sensors that make sure they only play once plugged into the ear, motion accelerometers that respond to taps for different functions and a five-hour battery life (25 hours with the box). I’m not sure why people went on a rampage to say these would get lost easily. Same size as normal earbud headphones, these come with a box to keep them secure and if one drops off your ear, believe me, you’ll know!
Get rid of the 3.5mm jack, you gain space inside. The best way to use that space is to add another speaker. Thus the iPhone 7 has stereo speakers at the top and bottom of the phone that are now twice as loud and have greater dynamic range. That’s what Apple said. I couldn’t make out as the demo room was noisy! There are some more things like the all-new A10 Fusion chip which Apple claims is the most powerful chip in any smartphone ever. A big claim and I’m sure the rivals are itching to come up with some statements. Or the fact that the storage has been doubled across the board now to 32GB, 128GB, and 256GB.
So what’s the final verdict? Well, not an easy answer. People expected the 7 to look and be different in radical ways. But Apple has once again done just enough to make sure consumer interest is high and the competition goes back to the drawing board. The dual-lens camera, the home button, the start of a new era of audio as well as w&dR feature are more than enough to keep the iPhone 7 sales high and mighty.
And just like any other Apple event, one more box got checked. A big rumour as the event gets over. This time it’s about the next iPhone being called the iPhone 10 instead of the iPhone 7S. Chew on that for the next 12 months!
Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3
From HT Brunch, September 18, 2016
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