As it does every September, Apple recently held its press conference where CEO Tim Cook showed the world the newest models of its iPhone, and the big news this year was not about a new design or fancy feature, but rather on what the latest iPhone models do not have – a 3.5 mm headphone jack, leaving the Lightning port as the only port on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.
Stylistically, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are not much different than last year’s models, leading some industry experts to believe Apple is holding off on the real significant changes until next year, when the cell phone that singlehandedly changed the cell phone industry will celebrate its 10th anniversary. That is not to say there weren’t noteworthy changes from last year’s iPhone 6S; it’s just that you can’t see most of them:
- A revised home button that vibrates when pressed. Gone is the familiar “click” of the home button, replaced with a gentle vibration. Using Taptic Engine, it’s also capable of customized notification buzzes for messages and phone calls.
- Water-resistance. Both the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, as well as the Apple Watch Series 2, are water resistant. The iPhones have a water resistance up to one meter (3.5 feet), so if it gets splashed during a rainstorm or dropped in a sink, or if you want to listen to your iTunes in the shower, you’ll be fine. The Apple Watch Series 2 is water resistant to 50 meters, and in fact Tim Cook encouraged users to wear their devices while swimming.
- Improved stereo speakers. Apple put a speaker in the location of the missing 3.5 mm phone jack, so now there are four speakers on the iPhone – two on the top and two on the bottom – giving the unit a definite stereo sound.
- Better camera features. The iPhone 7 Plus has two rear-facing cameras, allowing users to choose from wide-angle and telephoto options, as well as software tricks that will allow you to zoom between the two focal lengths. There is also a “depth” feature that will let you blur the background behind your subject. The iPhone 7 comes with the new wide-angle camera, plus a new 12-megapixel sensor, a new flash, optical image stabilization and an image processor that allows better autofocusing, exposure and color correction.
- New colors. Velvety Matte Black and glossy Jet Black join Rose Gold, Gold and Silver as color choices for both models of the iPhone 7.
- New Games. Pokemon Go! is coming to the Apple Watch Series 2 and Super Mario will be available on iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.
- New iOS. The latest operating system upgrade, iOS 10, will be released for all Apple devices on September 13.
The biggest change from the iPhone 6 range is the aforementioned lack of a 3.5 mm headphone jack. Instead, the iPhone 7’s will have only the Lightning port for charging, although Apple is including an adapter with the iPhone 7’s that will allow use of any wired headphones or earbuds with a standard 3.5 mm jack. Apple is, of course, hoping iPhone 7 users will purchase Apple’s new AirPods wireless Bluetooth ear buds. However, while they apparently sound great, some experts and Apple aficionados are already complaining that the price of the AirPods – $159 – is too high, and that they can be easily lost because they simply hang in your ear. Others feel their size makes them a danger to small children and pets, as they can easily be swallowed.
The iPhone 7’s weren’t the only stars of the day – Apple also announced its second generation of the Apple Watch, appropriately dubbed Apple Watch Series 2. Its features include:
- Extra bright screen. The brightest screen Apple has ever shipped and twice as bright as the original Apple Watch screen.
- S2 chip. Its dual-core processor is 50 percent faster than its predecessor.
- More color options. White ceramic joins stainless steel and aluminum as bezel options, plus new band selections, including custom designs from classic French design house Hermès.
- Fitness features. A new built-in GPS can help track runs, plus water resistance to 50 meters allows users to shower, swim or participate in triathlons without removing the Watch.
- Nike-branded version. The Apple Watch Nike+ is designed for runners, and includes a sportier look, a perforated watch band for improved air circulation, special Nike watch faces and shortcuts to the Nike running app.
Also getting an upgrade is the original Apple Watch, which Apple is now referring to as the Series One watch – it will not be discontinued, and in fact, will receive the new S2 chip.
Both iPhone 7 models and the Apple Watch Series 2 can be preordered September 9 and will be available for purchase September 16. The Apple Watch Nike+ can also be preordered beginning September 9 and will be available for purchase in late October. Prices for the iPhone 7 begin at $649 and the Apple Watch Series 2 and the Apple Watch Nike+, $369.