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Quickly selling out upon release, the iPhone 7 is the next release in Apple’s famous smartphone series. While they typically followed what they called a “tick-tock” release pattern, where major updates and features changed every two releases, the 7 marks a first in that while it should be a “tick” release, it appears to be a refinement of previous releases.
As it’s also the most expensive iPhone to date, do these refinements make it worth purchasing? Reviews are rolling out and we’ve dug into them all to bring you this summary!
Four of the biggest changes to the iPhone 7 come in the design. Reviews indicate that while some are controversial they’re all improvements.
The first is the lack of headphone port on the phone. Apple provides both a pair of Lighting port earbuds and a 3.5mm-to-Lightning adapter in the box to ensure you can still enjoy your iTunes collection. In a few months, they plan to introduce their AirPods for wireless connectivity.
As the big brother to Apple’s new iPhone 7, the 7 Plus takes the iPhone series into phablet territory. With the launch out of the way, reviews are rolling in.
But which one should you pick? Let’s see what reviewers are saying!
The iPhone 7 Plus shares many traits with it’s smaller sibling. However, the differences made a huge impression on most reviewers.
The biggest change is the dual rear camera setup. While the 7 Plus includes the same 12MP wide-angle lens as the 7, it also includes a second telephoto lens. This effectively allows you to enjoy 2x zoom without any of the quality loss or noise of digital zoom. Apple also plans to release updates to allow photo effects, such as bokeh, using both lenses at the same time. Many reviewers noted that this made the extra cost of the Plus worthwhile.
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Even for Apple it can be difficult to get consumers excited about a new smartphone every year. After all, how different can the new one be from the prior year? Many reviewers considered the iPhone 6 to be a great phone, but barely an upgrade from the iPhone 5S aside from the larger screen and better camera. Apple promises that the iPhone 6S is different as noted by their marketing tagline, "The only thing that's changed is everything." At first glance, it might seem like not much has changed. The 6S looks almost identical to its predecessor except it is now heavier at 143 grams and slightly thicker at 0.3 inches. The extra padding and weight comes from the use of adoption of the Series 7000 aluminum build. This tougher aluminum frame is meant to prevent bending, an issue some experts discovered in the iPhone 6 Plus. When tested they did not notice any flex with Digital Spy going as far as calling it, "…the most well-constructed handset on the market."
The 6S has the same 4.7-inch, 750 pixel display as the 6, which disappointed reviewers. While it is technically a Retina display (326ppi pixel density) they were not wowed by the sharpness or contrast ratio, especially when compared side-by-side to the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+. Still, they add it the screen is just as bright and colors still vibrant. What really makes the display special is the new 3D Touch technology. In essence it is a touch sensitive screen that will pull up different options/commands when users do a regular versus a firm press. While it might sound simple in theory, experts warn there is a bit of a learning curve and fine-line between a firm press and the traditional long press. Still, they add once they got used to it, they found it incredibly useful as it accessed dozens of useful shortcuts and gave them the ability to easily preview emails without going into the actual email, check links from messages and view pop-ups in their calendar.
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Despite the growing size of smartphones, Apple released the SE, the only current phone with a screen smaller than 4.7 inches. On first glance, many reviewers mistook it for the iPhone 5S, and that's because it sports a very similar chassis as its predecessor. Still, while it might sport the same sharp edges, they did notice some significant differences such as the matte edges to replace the chamfered ones. While a small difference, critics note that it made the device less prone to scuffs and easier to grip. Still, many still found the hard edges uncomfortable to hold for long periods of time.
The screen itself is a mere 4 inches and has a resolution of 1134 x 750 pixels. Although not the sharpest in the lineup, it is still high enough to be considered retina. While it offers up decent colors and vibrancy, when compared to the newer generation of iPhones experts noticed the blacks were fairly weak. And, due to its small size, they also found everything felt too cramped from websites to apps. More often than not they could not view everything on a site without having to scroll and buttons were notoriously small and difficult to tap. Still, they did appreciate the fact that they could easily use it with one hand and slip it into their pockets with no problem. Interestingly, while the iPhone SE does lack the 3D touch of the iPhone 6s Plus, many did not really miss its features.
For years, Apple held onto the smaller 4-inch screen size despite the growing popularity of 5-inch+ Android phones. The release of the iPhone 6 is Apple's white flag in the small screen department. At 4.7-inches, it might not be as large as many of the flagship Android phones, but reviewers find it to be a huge improvement over previous iPhones. Its 1334x750 resolution gives it a pixel density of 326PPI. As sharp as the display looks on its own, when compared to Full HD screens reviewers noticed text and images lacked some clarity and crispness. That said, they point out the enhanced screen technology and excellent contrast help make up for the lower resolution screen somewhat.
Besides the larger screen, the iPhone 6 has updated its look to a full glass and aluminum construction. While fairly large at 5.4 inches, it is only 0.3 inches thick and, according to reviewers, feels even thinner due to its curved design and softened angles. CNET states, "The new iPhone feels good to hold and beautifully solid…But it also has a slight aura of fragility." Despite its larger size, experts were still able to handle the phone with one hand easily.
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With the iPhone 6 Plus, Apple finally gave consumers what they wanted – a larger screen. The 6S Plus range takes the same screen size of its predecessor and adds a few bells and whistles not found on any other iPhone. Most of these new features are not obvious at a glance. In fact, experts note the general appearance is practically identical to the 6 Plus from its rounded body to premium build quality. It is, however, slightly thicker and a bit heavier at 192 grams. This is due in part to the new aluminum alloy used for the body and frame. Apple touts it as stronger and more durable than previous versions. When put to the test, experts did not notice any issues with bending. With that said, the larger size and rounded corners did make it difficult for reviewers to grasp with many adding a case is almost necessary for a better grip.
The 5.5-inch display has a 1920 x 1080 resolution. While this might sound low, especially in comparison to the quad HD resolutions of the Galaxy Note 5 and LG G4, experts were overall impressed with the clarity and natural colors of the 6S Plus. Stuff.TV adds, "Unless you've got laser sharp vision and put the iPhone 6s Plus next to its Android competition, you shouldn't notice the difference…" Experts also noticed a couple other subtle upgrades to the display including a new polarizer for better sunlight legibility, increased contrast and wider viewing angles. Perhaps the biggest improvement they noticed was the thinness of the display stack. The Verge states, "…it looks more like you're touching pixels directly than ever before. It's like the screen is painted on."
After years of maintaining the same screen size for their smartphones, Apple has decided change their strategy with the release of the iPhone 6 Plus. Measuring in at 6.2 x 3.1 inches, the iPhone 6 Plus is not a small phone by any means and yet it is incredibly slim at only 0.3 inches. Like its predecessors the 6 Plus sports an aluminum body and glass front. Instead of keeping the rigid lines of the iPhone 5s Apple opted for rounded edges instead. Due to its sheer size, reviewers did find the device difficult to use one-handed and a little too slippery. Gizmodo notes, "…there's just no comfortable place for your fingers to grip." While Apple did include a new piece of software called Reachability that brings the top half of the screen closer to bottom, experts describe the initial interface as clunky and practically useless.
Of course the 5.5-inch display is the reason that the 6 Plus is so much larger than previous iPhones. It boasts a 1080p Full HD experience, which translates to a stunning 401ppi pixel density. Although on paper it still isn't as detailed as a quadHD display, experts describe the display as crisp and detailed. Beyond the resolution, experts describe the panel as "brilliantly bright" and "stunning" with excellent viewing angles and color contrast. When compared to Android devices, critics note that colors aren't as vivid as the Samsung Galaxy S5 nor is it as clear as the LG G3. Still, Techradar states, "…the iPhone 5 Plus still has a very, very good display."
The iPhone 5s is the latest flagship device to lead the iPhone dynasty. With a redesigned processor, fingerprint scanner, improved camera, a bounty of new camera features and iOS 7, the phone is receiving rave reviews from virtually every reviewer around. Whether you are looking for your first smartphone or simply upgrading your existing phone, there are few devices with which the 5s cannot compete. TechCrunch’s Darrel Etherington claims “With the iPhone 5s, Apple once again wins the right to claim the title of best smartphone available.”
One of most talked-about features of the 5s it the new 64-bit A7 chipset powering the device. This is the first example of a mobile device using 64-bit computing. This fact, combined with numerous other optimizations, place the 5s at the top of benchmark tests in virtually every category in Anandtech’s latest testings. Although many users will not notice a major performance gap between the 5s and other bleeding edge technologies, the ability for the phone to age gracefully is all but ensured by this upgrade.
The iPhone 5c is one of two new devices released by Apple for 2013. With is colorful polycarbonate shell, iOS 7, beautiful retina display and rock-solid build quality, it is adding a bit of life to an otherwise stale product line up. TechCrunch’s Darrel Etherington says “The 5c is probably more broadly appealing than the iPhone 5s just by virtue of its lower cost of entry, but it’s still premium hardware and is likely better thought of as an analogue to the iPhone 4s relative to the iPhone 5 back when that device launched.” While this is the cheaper of the two new models, that does not make the iPhone 5c a budget phone. In fact, it shares a few upgrades of it’s more expensive sibling, the iPhone 5s.
Overall, reviews of the new phone and the new iOS 7 are extremely positive. With the new Control Center, Apple fans finally have the ability to toggle common settings, such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, by swiping up a tray on the screen. The camera app and hardware both receive slight updates to provide better manual control and improved low-light performance.
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While modern smart phones offer a ton of features, they’re not so great for battery life or durability. For emergency use, we recommend a standard prepaid phone. What they lack in features they make up for in battery life--some will hold a charge for weeks or months.
Be sure to check the top off terms. Most require you to add minutes to your plan at specified intervals to keep your phone active. Most prepaid carriers offer long-term options to avoid wasting minutes you’re not using.
Kids are prone to drops, spills and other accidents. Adding the cost of a new iPhone to your next trip to visit grandma isn’t exactly cheap. Fortunately, the budget Android market offers a long-list of affordable phones. Smaller phones will offer a lower price in most cases but might not work for those with developing motor skills. Larger phones, while more expensive, offer chunkier buttons and easier navigation for growing fingers and minds.
For young adults, a solid mid-tier smartphone option offers reliable performance without blowing your budget. Used phones are an excellent way to ensure you find an up-to-date phone without the high price tag of the latest flagship releases. Last generation’s iPhone or Galaxy offers everything a student needs at a price that will make parents happy too! If you’re not sure where to find a good used smart phone, our Phone Buyer’s Guide offers everything you need to know!
If you’re looking to replace traditional landline service, a standard phone is a great introduction to the world of mobile phones. They use a standard keypad and don’t require understanding advanced features for basic use.
If you’re looking to join the smartphone crowd, we recommend an iPhone. Not only are these devices dependable, they offer a simple user interface and support for Apple devices is some of the best around. Better still, most Apple phones feature a similar interface, so upgrading or replacing one Apple phone with another won’t mean relearning how to use the device.
In most cases, buying a phone at full price will offer the greatest flexibility in the future. However, this depends on why the carrier is offering a discount.
In the case of refurbished phones, you’re getting a discount for a returned--and possibly repaired--product. Don’t let the label scare you. As long as you’re buying from a reputable source, you’ll often find that refurbished phones come with similar warranties to new devices and cost much less. If you’re looking to save some money, this is an option to consider.
In the case of phone subsidies, you’re getting a discount in exchange for maintaining service with a specific carrier. If you know the carrier’s service and coverage fits your needs, this might be a good deal. However, a short time after the initial purchase, you’ll be locked into your contract. Getting out of a cell phone contract isn’t impossible, but it can be expensive.
While some apps offer versions for different phones, your phone’s operating system will limit your app choice. iOS apps will not run on Android or Windows 10 for example.
In the case of one-time purchase apps, you will likely need to repurchase the app if you switch phone operating systems.
Many subscription-based apps will allow you to download a version of the app for a variety of devices. However, if you intend to use a specific app, research the supported operating systems to avoid any future complications.
Yes and no. On a hardware level, you will need a dual-SIM phone to support multiple separate lines from your carrier. However, if you’re an area with CDMA network coverage, you won’t be able to take advantage of this feature.
If you don’t mind using a virtual number, there are a variety of apps to add second numbers to your phone using software. Many require additional payments and plans to function. Popular options include Skype, Sideline and Line2.
No. The features and specifications for mobile phones are determined by the manufacturer. This makes researching your phone prior to purchasing essential. If you’re not sure where to start, consider our Phone Buyer’s Guide. If you’re looking to get a little more performance out of your phone, our Guide to Saving on Mobile Data offers tips that might squeeze a little more performance out of your phone and 9 Great Uses for Your Old Smartphone or Tablet offers ways to repurpose a device that might be collecting dust.
This will depend on how you purchased your phone and your current contract obligations. If you have an unlocked GSM or CDMA phone, it should work on any other carrier using the same network type.
If your phone is currently locked to your carrier, you will need to request to unlock it before you can change providers. As long as you are no longer under contract, most carriers will unlock the phone at no cost.
Yes! In fact, we think this one of the most overlooked options for upgrading your phone or making some spare cash with your old devices. If you’re looking to sell, we have a comprehensive guide on Selling Your Used Phone for Maximum Profit.
Looking to buy? We have a section in our Phone Buyer’s Guide dedicated to what to look for in a used phone. Topics include ensuring that the phone is valid and functional, getting the best price and the best sites for finding used mobile phones.
Monthly and prepaid data tariffs add up fast. While it might seem like they’ve become a standard part of owning a mobile phone, there are still a few exceptions. If you pick up a standard phone, you’ll sacrifice some features, but most don’t require data plans. Feature phones will vary depending on the exact features that they add. Still, most carriers offer lower priced plans since the data used by feature phones is often much less than that of smartphone.
If you’re using a smartphone and you’re no longer on contract, you might be able to drop data service if you deactivate the phone and use it over Wi-Fi. Apps such as Line2 and Skype make it simple to maintain a phone number on the device without the need for traditional carrier service. However, this will mean that you no longer can make or recieve calls or text when outside of Wi-Fi range.
If you’re stuck keeping a data plan on your phone but looking for ways to reduce costs, we offer guides on finding how much data you need and saving data on your mobile phone.