iPhone 7 – Performance
This is the most powerful phone I’ve ever used – a statement borne out by some incredible benchmark results.
The iPhone 7 may have kept the same 2GB of RAM as the 6S, but this seems more than adequate. You can have plenty of apps open at the same time and switching between them is fast and slick. That’s where RAM helps.
However, it also packs the new A10 Fusion core and it is a blinder. There’s a reason for the “Fusion” moniker. Apple is using a quad-core CPU for the first time, but it doesn’t use all four of them at once.
Two of the cores are powerful and used for the heavy lifting – 3D gaming, multitasking and the like. The other two are low-powered and much more efficient – perfect for light tasks such as sending texts or using the email app.
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If that all sounds familiar, that’s because it’s not new. It’s based on ARM’s big.LITTLE design, and plenty of phones have been using this method to help preserve battery life. I’ve generally been impressed by phones that use it – and the iPhone 7 is no different.
Trusted‘s moved to the latest version of Geekbench 4 for its benchmarking, as it has a wider range of tests and better iPhone 7 compatibility compared to its predecessor.
The iPhone 7 is 30% faster than the iPhone 6S. It’s also 12% more powerful than the Galaxy S7.
It’s in the graphics department that the A10 really shines, though. The new six-core GPU scores a massive 37,349 on our standard Ice Storm Unlimited test – 30% better than the iPhone 6S and Galaxy S7. This really is incredible performance.
The question it begs is: does it really matter? I always like having a powerful phone, but flagship devices are so powerful now that there aren’t hugely noticeable differences in use. Sure, some games can jack up the polygons and look slicker, but other than that there’s not a huge amount to do on an iPhone that the A9 couldn’t handle. The iPhone 7 only feels a little faster than an iPhone 6S with both running iOS 10. The 6S opens apps – including the camera app – just about as quickly, although it’s slower to minimise them when you press the Home button.
Of course, the A10 does future-proof the iPhone 7 somewhat if you intend to own it for more than two years.
I’m looking forward to seeing the A10 processor in the next generation of iPad Pro, which is where the benefits should be even more noticeable.
iPhone 7 – iOS 10 and apps
The iPhone 7 comes bundled with the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 10.
Don’t expect a huge change here – Apple’s great at maintaining a consistent user experience through each upgrade and iOS 10 is not different. You’ll get to grips with it right away.
All the improvements are positive, so let’s start with the headline grabbers.
iMessage comes crammed with more features than you can shake a stick at. It’s like Snapchat, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger all rolled into one. You can draw little pictures to send to your friends – before you ask, yes, inappropriate drawings were sent – as well as search for funny GIFs or even send the track you’re listening to on Apple Music.
Apple Music has also had a nip and tuck. It was perhaps the weakest of the music streaming services around, but can now hold its own thanks to a better layout and simpler way to download music to your device.
I’d already given up on iOS Photos in favour of the excellent Google Photos app you can get from the App Store. That automatically groups photos by scene, location and time, as well as creating fun animated GIFs and stylised photos.
It’s no surprise, then, that Apple has taken a few dozen leaves from Google’s book and iOS Photos works in a very similar way now. It’s all the better for it.
However, it’s the less glamorous lockscreen, Control Center and Notifications that I’ve been most impressed with. They’re getting closer to Android in usefulness, so Apple users no longer have to feel like they’re missing out.
There’s a whole lot more to iOS 10 than I’ll go into here, from Siri updates to finally being allowed to delete useless apps such as Stocks. If you want to find out everything about iOS 10, and how to use all the features to the maximum then read our iOS 10 review and guide.
One area I will mention here is how much better 3D Touch is. 3D Touch was a feature first demoed on the iPhone 6S that offers more options depending on how hard you press the screen. I loved it to start with when reviewing last year’s iPhone, but it quickly became irrelevant in day-to-day use.
Thankfully, it does a lot more now. You can hard-press the Torch icon, for example, to offer three levels of brightness. You can also get better quick access to apps and news. 3D Touch has finally grown up and is a feature that’s unique to iPhones.
How we test phones
We test every mobile phone we review thoroughly. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly and we use the phone as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.