For the past 3 years, Apple has partnered its flagship smartphones with a larger, Plus sized variant. This year, the iPhone 7 Plus offers more than just a big screen.
Apple's annual iPhone launch in 2016 didn't hold too many surprises. As expected, the big announcement was the arrival of the iPhone 7 and it's plus-sized sibling, the iPhone 7 Plus. Sure, Tim Cook and his team also took time to announce the Apple Watch Series 2 and the funky new AirPod headphones, but the focus of the show was the new smartphone models.
The good news for anybody looking to upgrade their smartphone to the new handset is that Apple has created some premium devices that continue to compete with the best Android devices on offer. All the major carriers offer the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus on 24 month contracts, or you can pick the phone up outright and pair it with a cheaper prepaid SIM card.
Apple iPhone 7 Plus: What is it?
Ever since Apple unveiled the iPhone 6 back in 2014, it has also offered a "Plus" sized variant of the annual iPhone release that offers not only a bigger screen, but also a larger battery and a slightly improved camera thanks to the addition of optical image stabilisation.
2016 is no exception to the rule, although this year the iPhone 7 Plus sees even bigger changes between the standard 7 model and the Plus variant.
For the first time, the iPhone 7 boasts optical image stabilisation inside the smaller handset. The iPhone 7 Plus ups the ante by adding twin 12MP cameras, offering a wide-angle lens for landscape photography and a telephoto lens for portraits. Apple's software allows users to seamlessly switch between the two for both natural zooming, as well as significantly clearer digital zoom.
The dual camera setup will also allow iPhone 7 Plus photographers to create stunning portrait shots by digitally separating the subject from the background and applying a bokeh blur to the background digitally, all in real time.
Camera aside, the iPhone 7 Plus features a lot of the same product developments as the iPhone 7. The most notable change is the exclusion of a 3.5mm headphone jack, with a pair of Lightning earbuds and a Lightning to 3.5mm adapter to be shipped in the iPhone's box.
The iPhone 7 Plus also boasts a water resistant IP67 rating, an all new Home button that uses Force Touch technology to work, stereo speakers, an improved Retina HD display and more.
Apple iPhone 7 Plus: Price
|Apple iPhone model||Price|
|iPhone 7 (32GB)||$1,079|
|iPhone 7 (128GB)||$1,229|
|iPhone 7 (256GB)||$1,379|
|iPhone 7 Plus (32GB)||$1,269|
|iPhone 7 Plus (128GB)||$1,419|
|iPhone 7 Plus (256GB)||$1,569|
|iPhone 6S (32GB)||$929|
|iPhone 6S (128GB)||$1,079|
|iPhone 6S Plus (32GB)||$1,079|
|iPhone 6S Plus (128GB)||$1,229|
|iPhone SE (16GB)||$679|
|iPhone SE (64GB)||$749|
Apple has consistently differed from its Android counterparts by offering its handsets without expandable storage, but with each model coming with three different storage capacity options. The actual amount of included storage has changed over time, and for the iPhone 7 Plus Apple has doubled the included storage for model compared to last year's iPhone 6S Plus. What's more, the company has also kept two versions of its iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus in the lineup and doubled their storage as well.
As you can see, despite the additional storage, Apple has kept the pricing stable over the last model, which reflects the fairly stable Australian dollar. In the year between the iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6S Plus, the Australian dollar dropped significantly, which is reflected in the price changed.
|Apple iPhone 7 Plus 128 GB||
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|Apple iPhone 7 Plus 128 GB||
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Apple iPhone 7 Plus: Specifications
|Apple iPhone 7||Apple iPhone 7 Plus|
|Processor||Apple A10 Fusion||Apple A10 Fusion|
|Battery||Lithium ion, "up to 2 hours more than iPhone 6s"||Lithium ion, "up to 2 hours more than iPhone 6s"|
Working out what new features and functionalities Apple will add to its new iPhones before the launch is one part science, one part data analysis, one part product leak and one part mystical guesstimation.
Of course, the challenge is that Apple tries its best to keep its cards close to its chest around new product launches. So until Tim Cook gets up on stage and starts talking, practically everything is technically classified as rumour or speculation.
But now that the event has concluded, we can see just how many of those leaks and rumours were accurate.
The big rumoured change expected for the iPhone 7 Plus this year was the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack. All the talk was around Apple deciding that its Lightning connector port would become the only option for wired audio output, either through a pair of bundled Lightning earbuds, or a special Lightning to 3.5mm adapter.
Now we know that this was indeed Apple's strategy. The iPhone 7 Plus will come with a bundled pair of lightning earbuds, as well as a Lighting to 3.5mm adapter in the box. But the real push for iPhone 7 Plus owners will be wireless audio, especially with the announcement of Apple's AirPod wireless earbuds.
The other big iPhone 7 Plus rumour was the possibility of a second wide-angle camera, much like the LG G5, to improve its photographic chops. That's exactly what Apple delivered, although its approach was slightly different to LG's, with one wide-angle lens and one telephoto lens, which seamlessly work together to allow users to zoom in on a subject.
More impressive is the software update that uses the dual cameras to separate the subject from the background in a portrait shot, and then create an impressive bokeh blur effect artificially to make more striking photos.
The other big improvement for the iPhone 7 Plus is a new water resistant IP67 body. While it's not going to let you take your iPhone swimming, it should definitely help the phone survive an accidental encounter with water.
iPhone 7 Plus: Review
Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus solved the long-standing battery life issues that have plagued iPhones for years, as well as delivering top notch performance, as we found when we reviewed it.
"The combination of that battery sipping A10 Fusion processor and an even larger battery pushes the iPhone 7 Plus into the upper echelon of phone battery usage. The end result is a phone that’s really very powerful indeed for day to day use, even with more processor heavy tasks such as high intensity mobile gaming."
It’s not an inexpensive option, and we do still wish Apple would get on board with expandable storage, but the iPhone 7 Plus is undeniably one of 2016’s greatest phones.
Also worth considering
Apple may hold a monopoly on iOS devices (it does create the hardware and the software, after all), but for anyone not committed to Cupertino's creative contraptions, there are plenty of alternatives. Google's open-source Android mobile operating system has the benefit of having multiple manufacturers all working to create the best possible hardware for the platform, which allows for innovative new features at the hardware level.
Here are some of the best Android phones you should consider instead of the Apple iPhone 7 Plus:
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
Samsung’s 2016 flagship lifted the bar for all smartphones when it launched earlier this year, and the Edge variant adds a whole new level to larger screen devices. Boasting a best-in-class camera, incredible screen and currently unmatched battery life, the Galaxy S7 Edge is an incredible device to manage your life.
|Free Kogan SIM card with device purchase.||Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge 32 GB||
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|Fast shipping: Item leaves warehouse in 1-2 days||Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge 32 GB||
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HTC has made a habit of creating well-designed smartphones that are big on features and performance. While the HTC 10 doesn’t quite live up to the benchmarks set by Samsung’s Galaxy S7, it’s still an excellent option for anyone looking for a flagship device in 2016.
|Fast shipping: Item leaves warehouse in 1-2 days||HTC 10 32 GB||
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LG’s G5 handset is easily one of the most interesting devices of the year thanks to its modular accessory design. The ability to switch out the battery and add in a dedicated camera module, or a B&O amplifier offers a unique take on the modern smartphone, which is in danger of becoming a bit stagnant.
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