I’m not one who has to have the latest gadget; I usually wait until there’s a good reason to upgrade. That explains why I’ve held onto an iPhone 4 for over six years. It’s worked nearly flawlessly over that time.
And it still works; though it’s reached a level of obsolescence that I could no longer ignore. There are no iOS updates available for it, and some of the newest third-party apps are incompatible. Even the apps I do have installed are dated — Apple has pushed developers to migrate to 64-bit versions.
So with the generally good reviews of Apple’s latest phone, it seemed time to make the jump. (Six years is an amazingly long run for a smartphone, so I don’t feel guilty about abandoning a still-working device.) So I now own a 32GB iPhone 7. At $649, the base model was as high as I was willing to go. I couldn’t see spending another $100 for the 128GB model (although I did pay extra for AppleCare).
After using the iPhone 7 for over a week, I can easily say that I happy with it. Given six years of technical evolution, there’s a lot to like — though making the purchase felt like a longer and more complex process than buy my truck. The sales person at the Apple store took possibly an hour to transfer my AT&T account to the new phone, set up my Apple account, and give me a tour of the new capabilities.
As a photographer, I was immediately interested in the 7’s 12 megapixel camera. I was pleased with my initial results, but I especially liked the way the panorama mode worked. (I’ve been shooting panoramas with my digital SLRs for years.) An arrow appears on the screen and helps you keep the phone level as you pan across a scene. It’s quick, easy, and surprisingly accurate, though nearby objects with straight lines can be distorted on wider pans.
I spend much of my free time working on my small tree farm, and I usually carry a midsize Canon G1 X. But now I’m wondering if it’ll now spend much more time sitting in the bag. Comparing images from phone and camera will be interesting. The “live” mode is fun, but not essential. Pressing an image in Photos runs a few seconds of before-and-after video for still images. (You can turn this off to save storage space.)
And because I’m often outdoors in the Northwest, the iPhone 7’s enhanced water resistance is reassuring. I can now take shoots in a typically NW drizzle.
Other high points: I pleased that I no longer have to enter my security PIN whenever accessing applications. The fingerprint reader typically opens the phone immediately.
Deeply interested in mapping and GPS, I also purchased the phone to replace a broken car-dashboard GPS unit. The latest iOS Maps is far better than the one on my old iPhone 4, but not as good as Google Maps or my defunct Garmin. Apple’s app will get you from point A to B, but, as far as I can tell, it’s missing some general mapping refinements such as speed and elevation.
One of the hotly debated changes with the new iPhone was Apple’s decision to dump the classic headphone jack. I’m okay with the change because I mostly use a Bluetooth headset, and the iPhone kit includes an audio-jack adapter. And for devices such as speakers that have the old-style iPhone Dock Connector, I’ve used a DC-to-USB C adapter (Amazon).
There’s a lot to learn when moving from old tech such as an iPhone 4 to the iPhone 7. That’s part of the fun of the digital life.