Month: October 2016

iPhone 7: One Month In

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When I was a kid, I remember looking at the calendar every year around January 25th and thinking, “Wow, it’s already been a month since Christmas.” At age 22, I mostly reserve these feeling for Apple products.

I didn’t get my iPhone 7 on launch day; I had to work the next morning and I wasn’t keen on getting up at 3 AM on the off-chance I would be one of the lucky few to get Apple’s Sep. 16 “Golden Ticket.”

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The original shipping date provided by Verizon listed my phone’s arrival date as Sept. 24, a week after the phone released. Fortunately, I got a notification from Verizon several days before telling me that my phone would arrive on Sep. 20, a Tuesday.

This caused some worry, as the FedEx shipping information said someone would need to sign for the package at a time when I wouldn’t be home. In slightly unsettling-but-convenient turn of events, the FedEx driver just left my relatively expensive, brand new phone on my porch, for the entire world to see.

Some Apple bloggers complain about the difficulty of setting up a new device, but as someone who’s prepared his share of Android devices, the iPhone wins this round without a doubt. I backed up my old phone–and iPhone 5s–and restored iPhone 7 from the backup on my Mac.

Sure, it frustrated me that the apps had to re-download, taking about ninety minutes, but it’s worth the price. To me, an iPhone power user, having my wallpapers, apps, homescreen layouts, and passwords be instantly available on my new device is worth the minor inconvenience.

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As always, the Apple unboxing process is a pleasant experience. To see your new device in its original state is a moment of glory in which you forget the cost of the device and simply enjoy the ride. The plain, matte “Black” looks really sharp. I’d seen the “Jet Black” version at Best Buy a few days before, and though many disagree, I’d take the Black every day of the week.

I didn’t get much of a chance to play with the phone before I headed to work that afternoon, but I got it sufficiently set up so that it could still be useful to me at work, mostly for podcast playback.

Once I got home, I eagerly played with the device, wanting to see how much better it was to my old 5s. The simple answer? A lot.Of course, the lack of a headphone jack on the iPhone 7 get the most coverage from the media at large, but it actuality, it won’t make a difference to most users. The Lightning EarPods included with the device do the job well, and I haven’t found myself in a situation where I’ve had to use the 3.5mm headphone adaptor included with the device. My main piece of advice about the headphone situation is this: if you are holding back on purchasing an iPhone 7 just because of the headphone jack, do yourself a favor and pull the trigger–you’ll hardly notice it.

When I took the previously mentioned trip to Best Buy on launch day, I came away shocked by the feeling of the new phone’s home button. It didn’t move so much as it buzzed dully. My first impression was not a good one, so much that I wondered if I really wanted to upgrade.

The retail experience, fortunately, is not a good indicator of how the new design works in real life use cases. All of the demo units I’ve encountered seem to have the home button sensitivity set to its lowest level. This setting feel like you’re pushing on a piece of glass without and feedback; it’s almost impossible to tell if you’ve actually triggered the button. For most people, the highest setting is the best, as it feels fairly similar to the previous home button.

One of my biggest considerations for upgrading to the iPhone 7 was the advantage in screen size over the 5s. I’d originally wanted to get a 7 Plus, but at the last minute, the shipping delays and my worry over the phone being too big for my not-so-giant hands lead me to get the regular 7. After a month with the 7, I’m pretty sure I could have been very happy with the 7 Plus. I still love my 7, but I think the 2x camera lens and the extra RAM and battery life would’ve been worth the extra money and slightly unwieldy feel.

Speaking of the iPhone 7 camera, I love it. I absolutely love it. The camera on my old 5s felt better than the one on my old Samsung Galaxy S5, so I had high expectations for the 7’s camera. Simply put it delivers in spades. I’m not much of a photographer, so this statement isn’t much of a stretch, but I don’t have much use for my DSLR these days. The iPhone 7 takes such good pictures without the need to fiddle with the settings, something that I’ve always struggled with on DSLR’s.

My only complaint about the camera is live photos, where the camera records a moment before and after the shutter. This has left my photo library with a lot of not-exactly GIFS that show me trying to focus before taking the image and sticking the phone back in my pocket. It’s an easy thing to turn off, even after the picture’s taken, but it’s still a gimmicky inconvenience.

Even though I lived with it for about a week before my 7 arrived, I adore iOS 10. As much as I enjoyed it on my 5s, Apple designed the iPhone 7 to natively run iOS 10, making it a seamless software-hardware experience. From control center to notifications, iOS 10 is an all-around improvement over the already great iOS 9.

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In terms of accessories, I am using a Spigen Neo-Hybrid case and Spigen Tempered Glass screen protector. While the product images of both look cool, I’m not exactly fond of either after a month of use. The case doesn’t have a very strong seal with the phone, letting in all sorts of dust and other debris. This wouldn’t be a big deal if it weren’t for the clear back on the case. The fingerprint-magnet TPU case lessens the phone’s powerful aesthetic with the glare and dust trapped on the inside.

The screen protector poses its own set of problems. It’s supposed to be designed to fit with a case, but ultimately, that’s its downfall. It extremely narrow, barely covering the actual LCD screen. My protector is offset by about a millimeter, meaning that the right-hand edge of the screen isn’t covered, a major annoyance at some viewing angles.

I’ve considered getting an Otterbox Defender or an Apple Silicone case to eventually replace the Spigen, but I’m not too far into that thought process. At this point, I’m leading towards the Apple case, for added grip while maintaining the phone’s slim profile.

I really love this phone. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a new flagship smartphone. It typifies all of the respect and cache the iPhone earned over the past nine years. If you are looking for a new phone, I give the iPhone 7 a resounding endorsement.

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