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Apple takes iPhone to 7, Watch to 2, headphone jack to 0

Gregg Keizer | Sept. 8, 2016
iPhone 7 Plus now not just about bigger screen, but also about multiple cameras

Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, concurred. Series 2's new touts -- GPS, water resistance and a brighter screen -- and the original Series 1 getting the S2 SiP, he said, combined to broaden the line's appeal. "[Apple has] moved Watch from early adopters to early majority," Moorhead said, perhaps coining a new phrase.

Lucky 7

Cook reclaimed the stage to introduce the year's iPhones. "It's the best iPhone that we have ever created," Cook said, repeating a line that surfaces annually at the Cupertino, Calif. company's launches.

The new smartphones, tagged as the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus -- following the usual even-year monikers -- are new, head of marketing Philip Schiller maintained, even though externally they look almost identical to last year's models.

"The pundits were wrong. iPhone 7 and 7 Plus was a major upgrade, not a minor one," agreed Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, referring to expectations that Apple would retain a look for an unprecedented three years. "They changed every single thing about it except for the shape. They did more than I expected, frankly."

Schiller stepped through 10 new features of the phones, most of which had been at least hinted at, if not spelled out in excruciating detail, by rumormongers and leakers. Among Schiller's picks: A reworked Home button, stereo speakers, and a water-resistant case.

The larger 5.5-in. iPhone 7 Plus gets a new dual-camera set, both 12-megapixel single-lens models: One is identical to the enhanced camera in the iPhone 7, the other offers a telephoto lens. The latter relies on optical zoom from 1x to 2x, but from there to 10x, digital zoom -- software, in other words -- takes over.

Cameras in both the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus sport optical image stabilization, enhanced flash and a larger aperture, the latter which should significantly improve low-light photography.

Analysts focused on the cameras as they gave off-the-cuff evaluations of the new iPhones.

"Schiller made a point of first talking up the iPhone 7 camera and its improvements before moving on to the iPhone 7 Plus and its dual camera," said Dawson, highlighting the order, with the likely-much-better-selling 7 at the forefront.

Milanesi targeted the new differentiation Apple has embraced. Where the Plus was previously only about a larger screen, now it's about that and a better camera. "What the Plus is, is a 'Pro' model, even though Apple doesn't call it that," said Milanesi. "It's not just its size, but also the camera, which is a big deal."

Apple's new iPhones are powered by the 64-bit, quad-core A10 Fusion SoC (system-on-a-chip), billed as a "rocket ship" by Schiller. Fusion is 40% faster than last year's silicon, with a graphics processor 50% faster and with task-dependent switching between two performance-oriented cores and two energy-efficient cores.


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