Apple CEO Tim Cook on Wednesday officially unveiled the iPhone 7 and iPhone Plus, confirming a rumor that has evoked widespread dread: The company has ditched its traditional headphone jacks.
The new iPhones are sleeker than their predecessors, though, as well as water resistant. Their biggest plus might be the advanced camera lenses that create what Apple touts as the most sophisticated smartphone camera in the world.
Cook — who prefaced his presentation with a carpool karaoke session with hip hop artist/producer Pharrell Williams and late night talk show host James Corden — also led his team in the introduction of the next-generation Apple Watch and a host of iOS upgrades, as well as educational offerings and new wireless headsets to replace traditional earpieces.
The iPhone 7 has a 12-megapixel camera featuring optical image stabilization and a larger f/1.8 aperture and 6-element lens, for more detailed and brighter photos and video.
The iPhone 7 Plus adds a 12-megapixel telephoto camera to the 12-meg wide angle camera. Together, they allow 2x optical zoom and digital zoom at as much as 10 times greater capability.
The cameras have a 7-megapixel Facetime HD camera for sharper selfies.
Additional features are expected later this year. The dual 12-megapixel camera will feature a depth-of-field effect in the iPhone 7 Plus, and it will employ machine learning for sophisticated portrait-taking capabilities.
“What we are saying is this is the best camera we have ever made in iPhone,” Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller said during the presentation.
The new phones feature a sophisticated new A10 Fusion chip that promises more power and longer battery life. Comprised of two high-performance cores and two high-efficiency cores, it runs twice as fast as the iPhone 6 on one-fifth the power. The new chip allows graphics performance three times faster than in the iPhone 6 on half the power, supporting more demanding gaming and professional apps.
The new processors are “revolutionary” in terms of the capabilities they give the new devices, remarked Ryan Reith, vice president, worldwide device trackers, at IDC.
Free the Headset
Clearly, the move to wireless headsets, with the new AirPods with the lightning connector, may prove to be the most controversial move of them all. The wireless pods are powered by a new W1 low-power chip, providing up to five hours of wireless listening
The company’s custom charging case offers an additional 24-hours of listening time.
Apple congratulated itself for its “courage” in making the move, but the reception it got suggested the company may have made too great a compromise.
“Killing the headphone jack and pushing customers toward Apple-made AirPods seems like a fundamental mistake to me,” said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.
However, “doing so is likely the only way that the company could ever fully profit from its (US)$3 billion Beats acquisition,” he said.
The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus pricing starts at $649; however, customers can pay $32 a month through the company’s upgrade program.
The program will be available for the first time in the UK and China.
The Apple Watch Series 2, a nod to hard-core runners who might want a device that’s disentangled from the iPhone, could bolster its competitiveness in the wearable fitness game.
The new watches feature a more powerful dual-core processor and built-in GPS. After rigorous testing, they’ve been rated for swimming at a depth of 50 meters.
Apple Watch Series 2 comes in gold, rose gold, silver or space gray aluminum, or silver or space black stainless steel cases paired with a wide variety of bands. Pricing starts at $369.
A version of the watch cobranded with Nike — Apple Watch Nike Plus — features exclusive Nike sports bands, exclusive Siri commands, and integration with the Nike Plus Run Club app.
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