Faster lenses and more of them
For the first time, the camera capabilities of the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus will be vastly different. The regular iPhone 7 gets a new six-element lens with a wide f/1.8 aperture and optical image stabilization. The 12-MP sensor behind that lens is the same resolution as its predecessor, but it's claimed to offer 60% higher read speeds off the sensor. It should also consume less energy while moving those bits around. Apple also claims to have designed a more powerful image signal processor for the A10 Fusion SoC. It uses that newfound power to perform functions like wide-gamut capture and faster white-balance and focusing calculations. Both phones now have 7MP selfie shooters, as well.
The iPhone 7 Plus takes that same basic 12-MP sensor and doubles the fun. While companies like Huawei have already introduced dual-lens cameras on their flagship phones, Apple is taking a different approach than those we've seen so far.
Instead of using two similar lenses and sensors to capture different types of data about an image, the cameras in the iPhone 7 Plus use two lenses with different focal lengths. One is a 28-mm equivalent (compared to a 35-mm SLR's), while the other is a 56-mm equivalent. At its most basic, the iPhone 7 offers a built-in 2X optical zoom, but Apple also uses that longer lens as a starting point to deliver up to a 10X zoom with electronic assistance.
Having two lenses in the iPhone 7 Plus also allows Apple to perform some computational photography tricks beyond digital zoom. The company will be shipping a software update for iOS 10 later this year that lets the dual-lens system create a depth map of a scene and automatically blur the parts of a scene behind the subject. Other companies have already offered this feature for some time, but Apple's take does seem to offer perfectly natural-looking bokeh (the appearance of out-of-focus areas in front of or behind the plane of best focus). If you've longed for DSLR-like portraiture from your phone, the iPhone 7 Plus will let you have a taste of that aesthetic.
The improvements to the camera system don't stop at the capture stage. Apple also boosted the power of the dual-tone flash on both of its latest iPhones. The company now uses four LEDs for a brighter flash. The phones can now detect the flicker from some types of lighting, as well, allowing them to avoid improper exposure in environments that are primarily lit by fluorescent bulbs or in sports arenas.
More colorful displays and more colors, period
Other things about the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus have changed, but in less splashy ways. The Retina HD display on the new phones is claimed to be 25% brighter than past iPhones' screens, and it also offers support for content with wide color gamuts (we're guessing DCI P3, given Apple's claim of "cinema-standard" colors and its use of that color space in its other screens). These displays are still IPS LCDs, however, so don't expect the iPhone 7 to be ready for mobile VR. The iPhone 7 has a 1334x750 display, while the Plus keeps the 1920x1080 screen from its forebear.
The iPhone 7 will be available in two new colors: a "jet black" that looks a lot like the glossy finish on some Apple Watches, and a matte black that replaces the "space gray" that adorned many a past iPhone. The silver, gold, and rose gold finishes will stick around. In a move that deserves the word "finally," Apple is finally bumping the base storage of the iPhone 7s to 32GB. 128GB is the new mid-range storage tier, while the top-end iPhones come with a whopping 256GB of space.
Unlocked iPhone 7s will be available starting at $649 for the 32GB model. The 128GB model will ring in at $749, while the 256GB range-topper will go for $849. iPhone 7 Pluses start at $769 for the 32GB model and top out at $969 for the 256GB monster. Pre-orders for the new phones will begin September 9, and shipments will begin September 16.
130 comments — Last by reever at 4:40 PM on 10/05/16
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