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A month with the iPhone 7

Published Oct 17th, 2016 11:40AM EDT
iPhone 7 Plus Review
Image: Apple Inc.

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Take a few moments before reading this post to check out iStockNow, the third-party iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus inventory tracker that shows you exactly which models are currently in stock at any Apple store in the world. One month later, a quick check of stores in my area paints a familiar picture. At the Apple store in the World Trade Center, nearly every iPhone 7 model was in stock on Monday morning when I checked. Meanwhile, only one single iPhone 7 Plus model was available for purchase. Moving slightly north to the SoHo Apple store showed four iPhone 7 Plus models in stock compared to 57 different available versions of the iPhone 7. The Upper West Side Apple store had four 7 Plus models in stock, the Grand Central store didn’t have any, and the iconic Fifth Avenue store had two models available to sell.

It has been one month and one day since Apple first released the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus in the United States, and yet it’s still next to impossible to walk into an Apple store and buy the 7 Plus model you want.

DON’T MISS: Review: What it’s like to use the most innovative laptop of 2016

In the month I’ve spent with Apple’s new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, two things have become increasingly apparent to me. The first is that these are Apple’s best ever iPhones in far more ways than I thought they would be. The second is that the iPhone 7 Plus is now the iPhone.

I’ll elaborate briefly on the first revelation before diving into the second.

Leading up to Apple’s big iPhone 7 unveiling last month, the talk among gadget bloggers was that Apple’s new iPhones for 2016 were going to be “boring.” Dozens and dozens of leaks showed that the new models would look almost exactly like last years iPhones. This was troubling of course, because last year’s iPhones looked exactly like 2014’s iPhones. So bloggers judged a book by its cover and the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus were labeled as boring updates.

Then the phones were actually unveiled.

It was immediately apparent that the iPhone 7 duo were not, in fact, boring. These new phones were the most powerful smartphones the world had ever seen by a ridiculously wide margin. They had better displays that were called “visually indistinguishable from perfect” by a leading display expert. They packed class-leading cameras that were a huge improvement over last year’s camera, which was already one of the best in the business. And the 7 Plus sported a second rear camera that included a telephoto lens, enabling optical zoom and a nifty bokeh effect to mimic DSLR camera.

Most impressively, perhaps, was the fact that the new iPhones delivered on all of the promises Apple made when the company unveiled them. The power, the performance, the cameras… it was all very impressive. Add on two sleek new color options to freshen up the look of the phones, and you’ve got a pair of winners on your hands.

But something else became apparent as well, and I’ve spent a good amount of time over the past month thinking about it: the iPhone 7 Plus is now the real iPhone. Both flagship iPhone models are fantastic phones, but only one offers the full iPhone experience as Apple envisions it.

I knew long before Apple’s latest iPhones were released that 2016 would be the year I finally gave up my comfortable, manageable iPhone model for a Plus. Apple’s insistence on keeping the iPhone design slim means that its phones will always be sleek and attractive, but it also means it simply cannot fit all the technology it wants to into the smaller model. As a result, this year’s 4.7-inch iPhone did not get Apple’s new dual lens camera or the extra gigabyte of RAM iPhone 7 Plus users enjoy.

Beyond the new advantages the iPhone 7 Plus has over its smaller counterpart, earlier advantages also remain. The Plus model’s 1080p display offers a much better viewing experience than the 720p screen on the smaller iPhone, and the difference in battery life is of course still huge. Users are lucky if the iPhone 7 lasts even 12 hours per charge on a busy day. Meanwhile, the larger iPhone 7 Plus battery can easily go 24 or even 36 hours before needing to be recharged.

Long story short, the iPhone 7 offers a compromised user experience. It’s not a bad experience per se, especially when taken as a whole and measured against smartphones from rival companies. The power, the camera, the software, the speed… most Android phones just cannot complete in these areas. But when measured against the larger iPhone 7 Plus, the iPhone 7 lags behind by a huge margin.

So, I’ve had no choice but to change my habits and behavior, and adapt to the iPhone 7 Plus. I have used my smartphone with one hand quite frequently in the past, but now I cannot for the most part. Typing efficiently with one hand is next to impossible on the iPhone 7 Plus, which has definitely taken me a while to come to terms with.

I did find a wonderfully slim iPhone 7 Plus case to use that protects the phone from scratches, helps a bit with grip and adds no bulk whatsoever. With this case, I can comfortably still read the news and check Twitter with one hand and I don’t have to worry about dropping the phone or pulling a muscle. Of course, size is hopefully just a temporary pain point since next year’s iPhone 8 Plus will reportedly see the overall size of the phone shrink while the display actually grows slightly larger. Apple will apparently achieve this by ditching the home button beneath the screen and including narrower bezels on the sides of the display.

In the meantime, any problems that arise from the phone’s size are worth the hassle. It’s the true iPhone, and it delivers the smartphone experience Apple intended for users in 2016.

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.