Likes and Dislikes from Apple’s iPhone 7 Event

(Note: I had previously stated that the Apple Watch Series 2 was the same thickness, it has actually gained 1mm. Sorry for the error, it has been corrected)

I had mixed feelings heading into Apple’s iPhone 7 event (iMore did a good recap here), usually an event that I very much look forward to. Due to the incredible reporting of people like Mark Gurman a lot of key details about the iPhone, the undoubted crown jewel of Apple’s business, had already been leaked.  In addition, the fact that this year’s iPhone was rumored to be a third iteration of the iPhone 6 design added to the fact that this iPhone could have gone down as the most underwhelming new iPhone ever.

The good news: this event exceeded my expectations.  Even if you’re not an Apple fan, whenever tech leaders like Apple continue to push the envelope, it pushes the entire industry forward.

The bad news: not everything is perfect, and nor was everything Apple did today.

In a similar fashion to how I’ve covered previous Apple events, I’ll break down my likes and dislikes for each major category of the Event: Apple Watch, iPhone, and Misc. Observations.

Apple Watch

Likes

  • Focus on Health features
    • While Apple may tout their standing as the #1 Smart Watch on the market, that is not exactly a bold achievement.  They remain firmly behind Fitbit in terms of Wearables, a market that Apple surely wants to increase it’s share in.  Their emphasis on fitness features such as built-in GPS, ability to use while swimming, and Nike partnership is a smart move that will make the device more accessible to the fitness oriented market.
  • Speed Boost
    • HUGE! The GPU and CPU both are 50% faster, a welcome need to a device that is painfully slow even for the most basic of things.
      • Note: WatchOS 3 also contributes to the speed boosts greatly.  The new chipset combined with new software will hopefully make using the Watch a more seamless experience.
  • Watch Series 1 Speed Bump
    • I put this separately because I was very happy that Apple added the same chipset in the “Series 1” Watch, allowing for the lower end Watch to also be functionally usable enough for anybody looking to buy the Apple Watch but is on a tighter budget.  Note that for anybody looking to purchase this option it will not have the Water Proofing, GPS, and brighter screen found in the Series 2 Watch.
      • I personally would recommend this to anybody who is looking to get the Watch and doesn’t need the GPS and Water Proofing (the Watch Series 1 is water resistant, so normal water exposure does it no harm). I use my Watch for notifications, Apple Pay, and basic Health tracking, and I see no reason why those things couldn’t be accomplished with the upgraded Watch Series 1.

Dislikes

  • No battery life increase
    • While people who wear the 42mm size Watch don’t run into battery issues with their Watch (I personally have never had an issue), the people who have smaller wrists – a higher % of women – wear the 38mm Watch which packs a smaller battery.  This has led to many needing to charge their Watches in the middle of the day which is a terrible experience and Apple missed an opportunity to make the experience that much better.
  • Increased thickness (1 mm)
    • My last point and this point are related: if the physical dimensions have stayed relatively the same, why hasn’t battery life increased? And if the battery life didn’t increase, why didn’t the Watch get a little thinner? Usually the tradeoff is between battery size and thickness (on a very basic level) and in this case we got neither better  battery life nor a thinner profile.  While I wouldn’t classify the Watch as grotesquely big, it still has a notable width.
      • It has been suggested that due to GPS and more energy hungry processor that the battery life could not change. This is fine but remains a minus point especially for the 38mm version.

iPhone

Likes

  • New Colors
    • While this is usually mocked, the two new Black colors (Jet Black and Matte Black) are really nice iterations of the Space Gray color that has been the norm for people that wanted darker color phones.  The Jet Black is stunning in pictures but by Apple’s own admission may be more susceptible to fingerprints and scratches, so may not hold up.
  • New Cameras
    • I’m not knowledgable enough about the world of photography, but the camera improvements that Apple makes year over year have always been impressive to me.  The iPhone 7 adds Optical Image Stabilization (previously only found in the 6 Plus/6s Plus) to the “normal” sized iPhone, but the star of the show was the dual camera system on the iPhone 7 Plus.  The Plus was always a superior device to me for many reasons, but the camera improvement made this year makes the gap even wider.
      • What the dual camera system allows for out of the box is double the zoom with the same level of focus.  In a few months, Apple will release a software update (YUCK – should’ve been ready, Apple!) that will allow a “3D” effect called bokeh.  I’m excited for this while knowing next to nothing about it.
    • The front-facing camera received significant improvements as well, which will thrill all of the selfie takers.
  • Water Resistant
    • No more weird rice rituals if your iPhone lands into the sink by accident.
  • Speed, battery life, screen improvements, stereo speakers
    • While all impressive, these are general across the board improvements that are always welcome and make the experience better but there’s not much else to say.
    • For those that listen to music or watch videos on iPhone using the speakers, the stereo sound will be a welcome addition
  • Storage
    • PRAISE STORAGE BUDDHA UPON THE DEATH OF THE 16GB iPHONE!
      • That’s all I have to say. About damn time.
  • Headphone Jack Removal 
    • Don’t worry, this is a dislike as well.  Look, this sucks. But also it’s what makes people a fan of Apple as a company.  This is the same company that we were outraged by their removal of the Floppy Drive, the CD Drive, the 30-Pin Connector etc. but the industry moved forward as a result.  The audio jack is a comparatively ancient technology that was some day going to be replaced.  Apple does what it does and they decided to be the ones to set an expiration date.  Progress doesn’t come without it’s pain points, otherwise everybody would do it.
    • They still haven’t abandoned everybody clinging onto their AUX cables.  Apple is packaging an adapter with every iPhone and are selling the adapter for $9, the cheapest peripheral I’ve ever seen them sell.  For comparison, when Apple changed the 30 Pin to Lightning port, at a time when the market REALLY wasn’t ready for the change, their adapter costed $29!
    • The Air Pods (doesn’t come with the iPhone) have a really impressive pairing technology that works far better than Bluetooth.  Impressive work, Apple.  This technology is also being passed along to the new Beats line of headphones.

Dislikes

  • Home Button Changes
    • I put these in the category of “preparing us for the future today”, similar to the removal of the headphone jack.  I conceptually understand that the next iPhone is supposed to be such a drastic re-design that the iPhone won’t be able to support a button that actually clicks (and possibly removes the Home Button altogether), but I’m old fashioned in the sense that I need a button to click when I press it.  Similarly, the new MacBook’s trackpad technology is impressive in that there’s actually a “click” feeling without pressing down on anything, it still just doesn’t feel right.  For as much as iPhone users press down on the home button, for it to feel a little off is actually a big downside.
    • If you’re going to make a change this large, be prepared to make a good case for why the change needs to happen.  I feel like this is the biggest weakness of “Tim Cook’s Apple”.  The MacBook went to one port, the Force Touch trackpad is on all new MacBook Pro’s, the iPhone’s home button changed, the headphone jack was removed, and the message was never clearly conveyed as to WHY.
  • Headphone Jack Removal 
    • If this move is to make way for the re-design coming next year, why was it made this year? As with my point above, if you don’t have a good answer to this question, you’re not ready to make the change.  Intellectually, we all understand that the audio jack is an older technology, we’re all moving to Bluetooth/wireless, but if it’s not necessary – why make the change now? Change for change’s sake is the worst reason to do something, and I don’t believe Apple did that – so improve the communication around this. This will be an adjustment for many, a rude one at that, with very little real reason given for it other than “it’s 2016”.  That’s not good enough.
  • Lack of True Tone Display
    • The True Tone Display was introduced with the 9.7″ iPad Pro and as a person who uses that iPad daily, I noticed the improvement immediately.  Essentially what True Tone does is adjust to the “temperature” of the light around you when you’re using the iPad which allows for a consistent viewing experience.  This change is most notable at night, and the iPhone really could have benefitted from it.
  • Jet Black Warning
    • You’re better than this.

Misc. Observations

Likes

  • Nintendo Partnership!
    • I’m so pumped about this. I hope this is the beginning of something big.  My dream scenario is Nintendo puts their entire back catalog onto the Apple TV/iOS platforms, that would get the current generation of kids that have abandoned Nintendo for Minecraft etc hooked on the same Mario games that have aged so well.
  • Ability to Adjust
    • For a company as large as Apple, they do a good job of understanding their market.  The iPhone’s camera improvements and color options are no mistake, they listen to the customer base and know what they want.  More importantly, they abandoned what didn’t work on the original Apple Watch software and adjusted their approach in a relatively short amount of time.  With their partnerships in fitness and hardware changes, they clearly are making the right decisions with where to improve the product.  For somebody who bought the Watch early, I became worried about the long term future of the platform – no longer is this the cases.

Dislikes

  • Lack of Mac
    • The MacRumors Buyers Guide is a fantastic resource for anybody looking to buy any Apple Products.  Currently, they recommend NO MacBooks that Apple currently sells because they are so overdue for changes.  The expectation was that because they missed the Back To School market by not announcing at WWDC, it was logical that the MacBook Pro/Mac Pro/Mac Mini etc was going to receive some love in preparation of the Holiday season.  It may still be the case if Apple can make an announcement in a month or so, it’s another missed opportunity for them to shine light on what many consider a neglected part of their business.
  • Lack of iPad Features
    • At WWDC, iOS 10 was largely an iPhone only update.  While the iPad received some cleaning up, if the iPad Pro really is a laptop replacement, as Apple likes to remind us, the software simply hasn’t caught up.  The rumor is that iPad-centric software features might come mid-season, I would have appreciated a little bit of iPad software love at this event.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

 

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