Apple iPhone 7 Plus vs iPhone 6S Plus compared: What’s the difference, which is best, and should you upgrade?
As expected, Apple has just launched its latest flagship smartphones, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. While neither represents a massive update on last year’s model, there are still some key differences worth noting.
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WATCH: iPhone 7 vs iPhone 7 Plus – What’s the difference?
Here’s what you need to know.
iPhone 7 Plus vs iPhone 6S Plus: Design and display – Same, same; bit different
If you thought Apple would go back to the drawing board for the iPhone 7 Plus, prepare to be disappointed, since both are very similar aesthetically.
There are two key differences, however: the range of colour options available, and the virtual disappearance of the loathed antenna lines.
Let’s start with the former. The iPhone 6S Plus was available in just four flavours: Silver, Gold, Rose Gold and Space Grey. The iPhone 7 Plus adds a couple of new choices in Black – a new, darker black tone – and Jet Black, which offers a glossy rather than brushed black exterior.
Related: iPhone 7 review
In terms of the antenna lines, they haven’t disappeared completely as many had hoped, but they’re now far more discreet, snaking around the top of the phone rather than assuming pride of place on the back plate.
The camera hump has also been tweaked, but we’ll discuss that in more detail below.
Other than that, it’s much of a muchness. Both the iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 6S Plus feature 5.5-inch Full HD displays, curved sides, and a premium aluminium build.
Elsewhere, the iPhone 7 Plus is water-resistant to the IPX7 standard, meaning it will withstand being submerged in 1m of water for 30 minutes.
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Apple iPhone 7 Plus
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iPhone 7 Plus vs iPhone 6S Plus: Camera – A snappy upgrade
Arguably the biggest difference between the iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 6S Plus is its optical capability. Apple’s “Plus” handsets have always had superior cameras compared to their smaller counterparts due to the addition of optical image stabilisation, but the gulf between the the 7 Plus and 6S Plus is also marked.
Why? Because the iPhone 7 Plus, as was oft-rumoured in the build up to tonight’s launch, packs a dual 12-megapixel camera setup – there’s one wide-angle lens and a separate telephoto snapper. You can switch between the two sensors, or use them together for a kind of optical zoom effect.
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The iPhone 6S Plus? It sported a single 12-megapixel primary camera, and also gets bested in the flash department – the 7 Plus packs four LEDs compared to the 6S Plus’ two.
Of course, we’ll have to go hands-on with the iPhone 7 Plus to see how its camera performs in the real world, but it would be a real shock if these enhancements didn’t represent an improvement.
Elsewhere, the iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 6S Plus offer the same video-capture capabilities: 4K at 30fps and 1080p at 60fps.
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iPhone 7 Plus vs iPhone 6S Plus: Audio – Yes, it’s really gone!
The most hotly talked about new “feature” of the iPhone 7 Plus isn’t actually something that’s been added – it’s something that’s been taken away.
With the iPhone 7 Plus, Apple has indeed dropped the 3.5mm headphone jack (last sighting: iPhone 6S/6S Plus), meaning you’ll now have to plug your cans straight into the Lightning port, or get your audio fix over Bluetooth.
It’s a significant change, but thanks to the relentless nature of the iPhone rumour mill, it isn’t that much of a surprise.
By way of trying to sell you on this significant tweak, Apple is bundling a set of Lightning-ready AirPods (RRP £159) with the handset, plus a conversion dongle that will allow you to continue using your old 3.5mm plug headphones.
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iPhone 6S Plus
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iPhone 7 Plus vs iPhone 6S Plus: Performance – Out with the old, in with the…
The iPhone 7 Plus features an all-new chipset, the A10, which reportedly sees the new iPhone’s oomph jump from 1.8GHz (as seen on the iPhone 6S Plus’ A9 chip) to 2.4GHz.
Which would matter – except that, unlike Android devices, iPhones don’t require rocket-like hardware specs to perform competently. Since iOS is such a light operating system, Apple doesn’t need to pack its phone with overly beefy chipsets to make them usable. So while the iPhone 7 Plus’ processor is better, the iPhone 6S Plus will remain one of the best performers on the market.
Also as usual, Apple didn’t speak about the RAM in its new iPhones, so we’ll have to wait for the first teardowns to know how much memory the iPhone 7S Plus includes The 6S Plus offered 2GB, and gossip has pointed to the 7 Plus upping that to 3GB.
Will it and, more importantly, will you notice any difference? Stay tuned for our full review when we’ll put the iPhone 7 Plus to the test.
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iPhone 7 Plus vs iPhone 6S Plus: Storage – Hooray, Apple! WTF, Apple?!
At last, Apple has done the sensible thing and killed the inadequate 16GB iPhone model with the introduction of the 7 and 7 Plus. The iPhone 7 Plus comes with a minimum 32GB of on-board storage, but more capacious 128GB and 256GB versions are also available to suit the modern media hog.
On the one hand, this gives the iPhone 7 Plus a major edge on the 6S Plus, although that device also killed the 16GB model – you can now buy a 32GB or a 128GB variant.
But perversely, the absence of a 64GB 7 Plus model irks us. A 5.5-inch device is obviously meant to be a serious media companion, so why not kill off the 32GB variant as well and just start with a more realistic 64GB of storage?
Oh wait, this is Apple we’re talking about – speaking of which, you’re not getting a microSD card slot with the 7 Plus either. Not now. Not ever.
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iPhone 7 Plus vs iPhone 6 Plus: Battery life – Wait and see
As with RAM, Apple never reveals the battery spec for its iPhones, so all we know is that the iPhone 6S Plus (according to various teardowns) packed a 2,750mAh cell. Given that there isn’t a bigger or sharper display to keep going, we wouldn’t expect that to change, but there may be some more energy efficiency waiting to pop out of the woodwork – either on the hardware side, or with the impending arrival of iOS 10.
Again, we’ll independently test the iPhone 7 Plus’ stamina when we review the device in full.
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iPhone 7 Plus vs iPhone 6S Plus: Price, release date, and first impressions – One more thing
The iPhone 7 Plus may not be the radical reinvention some of us had hoped for, but it’s clearly a superior phone, packing a slick new dual-lens camera setup, faster chipset, improved storage options, and a wider range of colour options.
However, due to currency fluctuations the iPhone 7 Plus will be selectively more expensive than its 2015 counterpart – the iPhone 6S Plus started at £619, but iPhone 7 Plus pricing kicks-off at £719.
Part of the bump can be explained by the base storage boost, but the increase doesn’t fully correlate unless you account for the Brexit effect, which is tiresome, if outside of Apple’s control.
Obviously, the older Apple ‘Plus’ will get a price cut – it now starts at £599 for the 32GB, with the 128GB version tagged at £699.
Given that Apple has also brought the Apple Upgrade Programme to the UK as its “one more thing” – meaning it’s easier and more affordable than ever to upgrade to new Apple phones – there’s really no excuse not to upgrade, although the 6S Plus is still a highly serviceable phone.
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Interested in the iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus? Let us know in the comments below.