Making the decision to switch to the Apple ecosystem wasn’t an easy one. The lack of commonality between integrated services on iOS and Android made it more difficult for things on the iPhone 7 to work like they did on Android; I had to work around certain quirks on the iOS that might seem normal to its users. Nevertheless, here’s a review from an Android user’s perspective.
Design, Construction, Display
The first thing I noticed when holding the iPhone 7 Plus in my hand, surprisingly, was how heavy it felt. Notice that I use the word felt instead of stating a fact – I don’t think 188g counts as heavy – but the overall weight distribution of the iPhone 7 Plus made the phone slightly unbalanced when held in my hand. My previous Zenfone 2 (5.5 inches) was lighter and easier to hold with one hand, as is my friend’s Galaxy Note 7. Honestly, even if Apple had to cram many features into the phone, this is something that’s unforgivable, as we use our smartphones everyday and dealing with the flimsiness of the grip everyday isn’t the best experience I expect from Apple.
Design wise, what you get is standard fare from the iPhones; a flat phone with round edges. It can either be the basic design that you go back to everyday, or too mainstream for the hipster. I’m more for the latter, but looking at the phones in the market nowadays I don’t expect much breakthrough in design, maybe except for HTC.
Apple claims that the iPhone 7 produces a wider range of colors from its screen when compared to the previous models. Now I don’t really have a case for comparison, but the display works brilliantly; definitely much better than my previous Android phones, and Apple’s got the automatic brightness adjustment done accurately as well.
The iPhone 7 Plus is fast. Like really fast. It zoomed through my application switching in a breeze, and loaded new apps with Flash-like speed; something that even top Android phones struggles with (I’m looking at you, Note 7). I have absolutely no complaints about how responsive this beast is.
However, the efficient processor is let down by iOS’ operating system design for background apps, which only lets each app occupy CPU time briefly while it is in the background. This causes many apps with notifications (instant messaging for example) to only update when the app is launched – leading to a load-on-switch behaviour that can be irritating, especially if you come from Android. Granted, this probably makes the phone speedier, but I think with the processing power available Apple should have come up with a solution to this disharmonious experience.
The other issue I have with iOS is the lack of customization of the home screen, a versatile feature Android offers and impresses. Basically you are stuck with a grid of applications with minimal customizability, with only a page for widgets; many people might prefer to have a one page overview of their calendar events upon unlock, without swiping. Heck, sometimes I just want to rearrange the position of the clock.
I’m not even going to write much about this. I believe the iPhone 7 Plus carries arguably the best smartphone camera in the market right now. It is reliable and fast, allowing you to capture the moment with ease. It produces great pictures in almost all lighting situations.
The 2x zoom? Pretty gimmicky if you ask me. It does allow you to get clear shots or certain situations where you can’t get too close to the subject, but 2x zoom is really not a lot. Let’s just wait for Apple’s implementation of post processing of photos when it’s out.
App Store and Apps
Wow, I didn’t know how much the Google Play Store content has improved in quality and selection.
The main drawback of the iOS app store is its limited selection of good free apps, or even paid apps with lite / ad-supported versions. I was trying to find a good Markdown app and stumbled across several expensive apps before settling on MarkLite (I’m writing this post on it), which I’m not entirely satisfied with. I would really love the ability to try apps before I buy them.
Also, data sharing between apps felt more limited than the experience on Android. Although basic data sharing is available, deeper integration is lacking – in Android I could click on a link in Gmail to have my article saved on the Pocket app.
What iOS app shines in, though, is its good selection of beautifully designed apps with an emphasis in user experience. Trello definitely works better in iOS. Many apps offering a niche feature, like Singapore Airlines or the American Express app, presents a more fluid interface. From my experience with iOS and Android development, it is indeed easier to develop on the Apple ecosystem; hardly a surprise due to the heavy segmentation on Google’s phones.
So is the iPhone 7 worth it? If you want something that just works, yes. If you are a power user, don’t pay more to be handicapped. For me, I bought it because of the camera, my employee benefits, as well as to experience this first hand. And I wasn’t disappointed, but not impressed as well.
Ultimately, I feel that the mobile phone platforms have evolved into such an app-based ecosystem, that aside from the hardware differences (camera, look and feel), you’re getting standard fare in terms of function. So using that to decide which phone you should get should be a logically accurate method.