iPhone 7 Plus review: We review Apple’s mighty 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus, which boasts a new water-resistant design, powerful dual-lens camera and incredible performance. Is the iPhone 7 Plus worth an upgrade for Apple users? Here’s everything you need to know.
We’re already big fans of the iPhone 7, which might not be different enough to entice iPhone 6s owners to upgrade, but certainly has plenty to offer iOS newbies and users of older Apple handsets.
Fans of bigger blowers will likely look to the iPhone 7 Plus, of course. At first glance the 5.5-inch Plus model is just a bigger version of the original 4.7-inch iPhone 7, but there’s more to this handset than simple dimensions. In fact, the 7 Plus boasts an exclusive dual-lens camera, one of very few smartphone snappers to come packing an optical zoom.
So what’s the difference between the iPhone 7 and the 7 Plus, and should you buy this bigger model? Here’s our full iPhone 7 Plus review.
Read next: iPhone 7 Plus tips, tricks and best hidden features
iPhone 7 Plus Review: Design
Apple didn’t exactly wipe the whiteboard clean and start from fresh when it came to the iPhone 7 Plus’ design. This 5.5-inch handset looks very similar to the iPhone 6s Plus from 2015, and the iPhone 6 Plus before that. Not a bad thing by any means, but we understand any long-standing iPhone fans who are growing weary of the handset’s look and feel.
The iPhone 7 Plus’ metallic frame once again packs a serious heft, and you’ll certainly feel the handset if it’s stashed away in your pocket. That said, it’s also reasonably slender and fairly comfortable to hold thanks to its rounded corners.
That aluminium surfacing is reassuringly hardy, resisting scratches and scuffs a lot more successfully than the likes of Sony’s Xperia XZ. All the same, I elected to keep my iPhone 7 Plus snugly wrapped in an Apple cover, just in case. These things cost close to a grand, after all.
Around the back you’ll notice that the dual-lens camera juts from the surface of the phone, by a couple of millimetres. Don’t worry though, there’s no negative impact. You can still sit the iPhone 7 Plus on a desk and use it as normal, without the thing rocking back and forth.
By far the biggest design update is the new water resistant build, which means you can submerge the iPhone 7 Plus in water without the need for an awkward trip to your nearest Apple store. Great news if you want to browse Facebook in the bath.
The home button beneath the screen is also different in this incarnation. Before it used to be an actual button, but now it’s a static pad that provides haptic feedback when you push it. In this way, there’s one less mechanical part that could potentially fail. You can select the level of vibration to suit your personal tastes, which is a nice touch, and existing iPhone users will get used to it pretty quick. And as before the button has Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor built in, which is as responsive and pleasing to use as ever.
You can also pick up the 7 Plus in a funky new emo ‘Jet Black’ finish, but we reviewed the standard gold model.
iPhone 7 Plus Review: Screen and media
As you’d probably expect, the iPhone 7 Plus’ mighty Full HD screen is nothing short of stunning.
On top brightness the display can easily cut through all kinds of glare, for perfect visibility. Apple has also boosted the colour gamut, so images look even more true to life. The result is perfectly sharp and attractive visuals, rivalling the very best Android phones out there.
And because the 7 Plus sports a spacious 5.5-inch panel, this phone was pretty much made for enjoying movies and TV shows on the go. Not to mention blasting through the latest iOS games.
The iPhone 7 Plus comes packing Apple’s handy Night Shift feature, which filters blue light for a warmer, pleasing-on-the-eye experience when using the handset in the dark. And 3D Touch support is once again present and correct, and hideously underused. Check out our 3D Touch feature for more info.
If you want to enjoy a movie or some music on the move, bear in mind that you can’t connect a pair of headphones directly to the iPhone 7 Plus via a 3.5mm jack. Instead you’ll have to hook up via Bluetooth or by using a Lightning port adapter.
Alternatively you can use the 7 Plus’ rather beefy internal speakers to blast your chosen audio. Providing you’re not on a bus or some other place where you’re likely to annoy others, of course.
Audio is now pumped out through two speakers, placed at either end of the phone, for a more immersive experience. We’re not kidding when we say this is probably the loudest smartphone we’ve ever tested, either. These mini blasters will send your toupee flying across the room if you’re not careful.
iPhone 7 Plus Review: Features and OS
The iPhone 7 Plus of course comes packing iOS 10, the latest version of Apple’s mobile OS. And while it’s still not perfect in our eyes (why can’t we just have Android-style widgets and flexibility already), it’s a big step up for the overall iPhone user experience.
For instance, you do kind-of-sort-of have widgets now. Swipe right from your first desktop and you’ll bring up a customisable page filled with your choice of essential info. You can check out your next calendar entry, traffic conditions, activity levels and plenty more besides, without having to open an app. The Control Center is also a lot more helpful now, and of course you can get rid of many Apple apps that would otherwise clutter your desktops, like the Stocks effort.
Check out our guide to iOS 10 and our run-down of all of iOS 10’s best new features for a more comprehensive look at the iPhone 7 Plus’ user experience.
iPhone 7 Plus Review: Performance and battery life
When it comes to performance, the iPhone 7 Plus really can’t be beat.
Apple’s mighty A10 processor powers the iPhone 7 Plus (as well as the standard iPhone 7) and it’s a seriously beefy chipset. We have seen a couple of little trembles over time, but that aside the phone offers a silky smooth experience. Apps load up quickly and the latest games play with a perfect frame rate, no matter how demanding they are.
Battery life is sometimes a sore point with iPhones, but the 7 Plus’ 2900mAh cell provides reasonably good life. With moderate use, you’ll comfortably make it into a second day before a charge is needed. It’s only when you start watching movies, shooting video or using apps like Skype when the battery life really starts to plummet.
Of course you have Apple’s Low Power Mode if you’re really struggling. This cuts some of the iPhone’s features such as auto syncing for mail, in order to preserve battery life.
iPhone 7 Plus Review: Cameras
The iPhone 7 boasts a solid 12-megapixel camera that’s now even better in low light, but the 7 Plus goes a step beyond with a dual-lens setup. That secondary lens delivers full optical zoom functionality, while also adding new features like the Portrait mode to the iPhone’s camera repertoire.
We’ve fully tested and reviewed the iPhone 7 Plus’ snapper, so check out our iPhone 7 Plus camera review to see what we think and for full photo samples.
Read next: iPhone 7 Plus camera tips and tricks
iPhone 7 Plus Review: Verdict
The iPhone 7 Plus is one of the most expensive mobiles you can buy right now. The most basic 32GB model costs £719 SIM free, or from £35 a month with an up-front fee. If you want to jump to 128GB, that’s £819. And for the 256GB model, you’ll have to stump up £919.
Considering you can get the likes of the OnePlus 3T for just £399, that does seem rather barmy. After all, the OnePlus 3T boasts a similarly stunning 5.5-inch screen, fantastic performance and a dependable camera, just like the iPhone. But if you’re sold on iOS and you want a spacious screen for enjoying media on the move, the iPhone 7 Plus is undeniably excellent.
Read next: iPhone 7 Plus vs every other iPhone, what’s the difference and which is best for me?
Of course, if you have the iPhone 6 Plus or 6s Plus, upgrading to the iPhone 7 is a difficult recommendation. The camera experience is improved, but not by a serious amount – after all, those earlier iPhones had great cameras too. And while the boost in performance and water resistance are nice to have, they’re not an essential upgrade.
You can get the iPhone 7 Plus from O2, with contracts starting from £50 per month.
iPhone 7 Plus Review: Video
If you want to see the iPhone 7 Plus in action, check out our full video review below.
Check out our complete iPhone 7 and 7 Plus hub for everything you need to know, including tips and tricks and in-depth reviews of Apple’s best new features.