Apple, ever since 2007, has conducted annual events to introduce the latest iPhone, usually in September. The announcement is normally preceded by months of rumors over what the new device may or may not include, some of which usually ends up included in the actual product.
Apple watchers, this time, knew a lot going in. A design of the device, including the long-rumored lack of a headphone jack, had leaked in August. And then this week, Apple’s long-dormant Twitter account came alive and tweeted a trio of promoted tweets listing new features for the new iPhone 7. They were later deleted, but archived below:
These are the three Apple promoted tweets that leaked the iPhone 7 way too early pic.twitter.com/uJ9bDkHPyq
— James Cook (@JamesLiamCook) September 7, 2016
And then, at an event Wednesday in San Francisco, Apple CEO Tim Cook finally unveiled its new smartphone, in an announcement that proved most of the earlier leaks right.
There are actually two new phones- the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Both are water-resistant. They feature longer battery life, stereo speakers, and dual cameras. The iPhone 7 sports front and rear cameras (7 MP and 12 MP), while the iPhone 7 Plus has a new kind of camera, with two 12MP lenses side by side, which has the effect of a telephoto lens. In addition, the iPhone 7 has no physical Home button, and no headphone jack, although the phone will include a free adapter that allows headphones to work with the Lightning jack. Otherwise, the device will use wireless headphones called Airphones, which will be sold separately. Apple-owned Beats will bring out new models with the Airphone technology built in.
The quote, from Apple's Phil Schiller:
“iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus dramatically improve every aspect of the iPhone experience, reaching a new level of innovation and precision to make this the best iPhone we have ever made... The completely redesigned cameras shoot incredible photos and videos day or night, the A10 Fusion chip is the most powerful chip on any smartphone while delivering the best battery life ever in an iPhone, and an entirely new stereo speaker system provides twice the sound, all within the first water and dust resistant iPhone.”
Apple also introduced its latest operating system, iOS 10, which will feature new messaging and an upgraded edition of HomeKit.
So how does the new iPhone look? Like most new iPhones- a little bit better than the last one, which one or two major innovations, but otherwise not all that different. The smartphone market, which used to have competitors from the Motorola Droid to the Palm Pre to various BlackBerrys and Windows Phones, has now essentially been narrowed down to a two-horse race between Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy models. Will the new iPhone affect that battle significantly, especially after the well-received Galaxy S7? Perhaps - the camera and sound improvements are certainly significant.
Then again, the removal of the headphone jack is a huge gamble, especially since the Airphones are sold separately; for many fans who have been using iPhones for years and iPods before that, it's going to be a huge adjustment.
The new iPhones will launch September 16, with preorders opening September 9. The lineup now includes the iPhone 6, 6S, SE and the two new models, which come in five colors: Silver, Gold, Rose Gold, Black, and Jet Black. The iPhone 7 phones are available in 32GB, 128GB and 256GB models, with the iPhone 7 starting at $649 and the iPhone 7 Plus starting at $769. The AirPods will cost $159 and will be available in late October while the iOS 10 and watchOS 3 are available September 13.