The iPhone 7’s screen is the same 4.7 inches in size as the one on the iPhone 6S, and doesn’t pack any more pixels. So it has a resolution of 1334 x 750 and a pixel density of 326ppi – what Apple calls “Retina”.
Essentially what this means is that the iPhone 7 is plenty sharp – you can’t spot any blocky pixels unless you plonk it in a VR headset, just a couple of inches from your face.
I’m fine with the current resolution, especially since everything else Apple has done to the screen makes it a real winner.
The iPhone 7’s display is richer than ever before, without looking at all fake. Apple now uses the wider DCI-P3 colour gamut that the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, iMac and Hollywood filmmakers use, and that’s a very good thing. It means more colours, so everything looks more realistic and nuanced.
It’s perfect for a Netflix binge. Skin tones still look natural, but more lifelike than before, and dark scenes look very good for an IPS LCD screen. Colours are punchier without losing the refinement I’ve always liked about iPhone screens.
It’s brighter and less reflective, too. That makes it a lot easier to look at in bright sunlight. This is the best IPS screen you can get on a phone, but it still lags behind Samsung’s AMOLED screens when it comes to deep blacks.
I can’t quite decide which I prefer – both are excellent.
There’s one area of the display that I’m not quite as impressed with, and that’s with white areas. Whites have a pink tinge, and I actually prefer the old screen on the iPhone 6S when reading an eBook or websites that have a white background.
Sound is one area that Samsung hasn’t really cracked with its Galaxy S range. HTC does a much better job thanks to the stereo Boomsound speakers on the HTC 10, and the iPhone 7 emulates these to some degree. It’s not quite as successful, though.
Let’s start with the good bits. The iPhone 7 is loud – very loud. In fact, it has double the top volume of the iPhone 6S, and that’s a good thing if you’ve left your Bluetooth speaker at home. You can happily use the iPhone 7 to listen to a few tunes around the campsite without it being drowned out by the lightest breeze or a crackling fire.
There are two speakers now: one at the bottom and one pumping straight out of the earphone slot. This means you get a little stereo separation, but they’re still too close to make it that noticeable. More importantly, the fact that there’s more than one speaker means it sounds a lot fuller.
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Apple has done a great job cramming decent speakers into the iPhone 7, but it’s not performed miracles. Speaker drivers need space around them and the iPhone 7 is just too small and slim to sound amazing. There’s still a distinct lack of low-end thrills. If you like your bassy music on the go then you’ll want to invest in some good headphones or a top-quality portable speaker.
At its highest volume, the iPhone 7 sounds a bit harsh and tizzy too, while movie dialogue has a whiny edge to it. Notching the volume down a few levels helps cure this.
I am being overly picky here, though. The iPhone 7’s speakers are some of the best on any phone. There’s a whole lot more depth and detail than you got from its predecessors, and the move away from dull mono sound is a welcome one.