You don’t got jack: Unpacking the iPhone 7

The iPhone 7 needs no introduction or preamble. Last week, perhaps the most anticipated device of 2016, Apple’s latest smartphone, launched with 2 variants—the 7 and the 7 plus.

iPhone 7 specifications
The iPhone 7 comes with a 4.7-inch display with a 750×1344 resolution at a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch. The iPhone 7 is powered by quad-core Apple A10 Fusion SoC and comes with 32GB/ 128GB/ 256GB storage options. In terms of camera, the Apple iPhone 7 sports a 12-megapixel primary camera and a 7-megapixel front shooter for selfies. As usual, Apple has not revealed iPhone 7 RAM or mAh battery levels.

iPhone 7 Plus specifications

The iPhone 7 Plus is similar to the iPhone 7 in terms of specifications, but it comes with a bigger, 5.5-inch 1080p display and packs dual 12-megapixel sensors on the rear. The iPhone 7 Plus RAM was tipped to be higher than iPhone 7 before the leaks, but there’s no official confirmation yet. The iPhone 7 Plus also likely packs in a bigger battery than the iPhone 7.

The new camera houses the image signal processor built into the A10 chip which uses deep learning to improve shots. The upgraded optical stabilization in both phones and the dual camera on the Plus model are also opening up avenues for photo apps to better capture and process images. The camera also has an improved zoom function, and by using both cameras on the Plus, you can focus on a subject and blur the background. The screens this time are corned Gorilla glass and have withstood multiple stress tests. Apple claims that the devices are both waterproof and beer proof.

Can you ear me?

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room, the infamous ‘wireless EarPods’. Apple believes in a wireless future and thus the innovation. Apple removed the 3.5mm headphone jack and that extra space, although minimal, is being used to pack extra tech into the iPhone 7. That’s clear from the dimensions of the phone – the lack of a headphone jack hasn’t made the iPhone 7 thinner, it’s still 7.1mm like the iPhone 6S.

Instead, Apple is using the freed up space for extra technologies, likely focused on the A10 Fusion processor and battery cell.

You’ll get a pair of Lightning EarPods in the box of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. These are much the same as the EarPods you’ve had in the box with previous iPhones, but they’re designed for use with the Lightning port rather than a traditional 3.5mm jack. That means if you’re reliant on headphones you won’t be able to listen to music on your phone and charge it at the same time. Each phone will also ship with a Lightning to 3.5mm adaptor, so you can continue using your wired headphones with the handset. The adaptor doesn’t look great, it gives you an extra cable to carry around, and it’s going to be annoying when listening to music on the go.

The New York Times likened the latest version of Apple’s flagship device to “adolescents coping with awkward changes to their body,” referring to the demise of the headphone jack and introduction of a new virtual home button with haptic feedback, which sends vibrations to the user to signal that their instructions have been registered, instead of having to press a physical button. (Pushing harder or more gently lets users access different functions.) Palpably, Apple’s devices are growing up. Most reviews of this upgrade cycle acknowledged Apple’s recent struggles to move things in a new direction—the phones have basically looked the same for years—but applauded the company for marked performance improvements.

Apple since the beginning of 2016, for the first time in 10 years, has lost a whopping 23% of its total sales. Now, Apple’s bold move might have been to put the spotlight back on itself (what with the Galaxy 7 releasing) but messing with a beloved feature hasn’t gone down well with most people. Whether Apple’s innovation was a hit or a miss is for the users to decide.