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iPhone 7: Buy or Bust?

(Photo courtesy of Gadgets 360)

Everyone has a different opinion on the number seven. For some people, it’s a lonely, terrible number. They think of the Seven Deadly Sins or the last legitimate book for the Harry Potter series. For others, it symbolizes good luck. There’s no doubt, however, that for Apple customers, the most significant 7 is the new iPhone version being released this month on September 16th.

The iPhone is like a child going through enormous developmental changes: it’s possible to trace the evolutions of the early iPhone incarnations, from the chubby but pleasant-to-touch iPhone 3 to the skinnier, more elongated iPhones 4 and 5. The iPhone 7 seems to refine the changes that the iPhone 6 attempted to make (sleeker screen, more wafer-like appearance) but failed to successfully deliver (see any one of the reviews on the now infamous “Bendghazi”). It is twice as fast as the last version and its batteries last longer. The camera’s image quality for photos and videos is also improved, especially for enthusiasts who want to be able to display them in high resolution on a monitor or print them out for scrapbooking purposes. The physical home button, the remnant of the times when there were real keys on phones, will be replaced by a virtual home button on the touchscreen, in response to concerns that the physical buttons were the first things on the iPhone to wear out from frequent use. Lastly, in what any smartphone user for the past decade will tell you is a long-overdue but vital update, the iPhone 7 is now water-resistant. Yes, legitimately water-resistant.

But, as with any product undergoing the equivalent of a technological adolescence, there are some bumps that we have yet to see Apple clear with the introduction of this new device. In order to allow for the improved chips and processing speed, the company has decided to remove the headphone jack, the most sacred component of electronics with music capabilities since the introduction of the iPod in 2001. Considering Apple’s history as a major force in music and the sizeable demographic of Apple’s market that includes music lovers and audiophiles, this will be the most hyped, and perhaps the most criticized, new feature of the 7 – everything else is just icing on the cake. On a more practical level, there are a number of accessories and devices, including speakers and credit card readers, that have depended on the presence of the audio jack, making its removal a development that will be closely followed by a wider audience as well. Once Apple has removed the audio jack from one incarnation, it is not likely to restore it in any of the following iPhone versions, so despite collective mourning from iPhone accessory users, it may be worth your while to either jump ship (Android, anyone?) or start making the laborious transition to this particular feature.

Instead of the headphone jack, Apple is providing a converter for its Lightning connector, which has previously only been used to charge iPhones, and free wired earbuds to appease disgruntled audio lovers. New York Times’ Brian Chen recommends attaching the converter to your most beloved pair of headphones to ensure that you won’t lose it when you want to plug into your phone.

But carefully weighing all these features against each other is largely the job of the tech-geek community, who will doubtlessly be debating the pros and cons of the new features even when iPhone 10 comes out. Most iPhone users, however, are facing a more practical, immediate decision: to buy or not to buy?

Here is my take on the iPhone 7 – it’s a good investment if you have anything earlier than an iPhone 5. If you already have the iPhone 5 or 6 or a similarly recent version, you may choose to wait another year for the iPhone 8. If you’re experiencing the various glitches of earlier iPhone versions, it may also be a good investment to upgrade to the 7.

Information Courtesy of Chen, Brian X. “IPhone 7 Review: Though Not Perfect, New IPhones Keep Apple’s Promises.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 14 Sept. 2016.

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