If you’ve decided on an iPhone, but you want to save a little money, then you may want to consider picking up an older model. The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are no longer being sold by Apple, but you can pick them both up from a range of retailers or on the used phone market. They aren’t very different from the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, but there are some impressive improvements — outlined in our iPhone 7 review and iPhone 7 Plus review. So, which should you pick? The iPhone 7 or its bigger brother, the 7 Plus?
Below, we take a look at the two phones in closer detail and compare them to pick a winner in different categories.
|iPhone 7||iPhone 7 Plus|
|Size||138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm (5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28 in)||158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm (6.23 x 3.07 x 0.29 in)|
|Weight||4.87 ounces (138 grams)||6.63 ounces (188 grams)|
|Screen size||4.7-inch Retina HD LED-backlit widescreen||5.5-inch Retina HD LED-backlit widescreen|
|Resolution||1334 x 750 pixels (326 ppi)||1920 x 1080 pixels (401 ppi)|
|OS||iOS 10||iOS 10|
|Storage||32, 128, 256GB||32, 128, 256GB|
|MicroSD card slot||No||No|
|Tap-to-pay services||Apple Pay||Apple Pay|
|Processor||A10 Fusion with 64-bit architecture, M10 motion coprocessor||A10 Fusion with 64-bit architecture, M10 motion coprocessor|
|Connectivity||4G LTE, GSM, CDMA, HSPA+, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi||4G LTE, GSM, CDMA, HSPA+, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi|
|Camera||12MP rear, 7MP front||Dual 12MP rear, 7MP front|
|Video||4K at 30 fps, 1080p at 30 or 60 fps||4K at 30 fps, 1080p at 30 or 60 fps|
|Bluetooth||Yes, version 4.2||Yes, version 4.2|
|Fingerprint sensor||Touch ID||Touch ID|
|Other sensors||Barometer, 3-axis gyro, accelerometer, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor||Barometer, 3-axis gyro, accelerometer, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor|
|Water resistant||Yes, IP67 rated||Yes, IP67 rated|
|Battery||Up to 12 hours of internet use on LTE||Up to 13 hours of internet use on LTE|
|Marketplace||Apple App Store||Apple App Store|
|Colors||Gold, rose gold, silver, black, jet black||Gold, rose gold, silver, black, jet black|
|Availability||AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile||AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile|
|Review score||3.5 out of 5 stars||4 out of 5 stars|
Performance, battery life, and charging
Both devices are powered by Apple’s A10 Fusion chip, a 64-bit architecture the company says is 40% faster than the A9 in the iPhone 6S and the 6S Plus and 120 times faster than the original iPhone. The A10 Fusion is still being used in Apple devices, such as the 2019 iPad (10.2-inch), so it’s a capable chip. The quad-core processor was a first for iPhones when the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus came out. Two cores are for high-performance actions, and the other two are designed for tasks where efficiency is more important. An Apple-designed performance controller determines which actions make use of either set of cores. Checking your email, for example, will most likely be powered by the high-efficiency cores, which saves battery life.
Graphics performance is up to 50% faster than the A9, according to Apple. Performance is a tie between the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, and the same goes for internal storage options — both devices come with 32, 128, and 256GB options. The pair also have stereo speakers, making them equals in audio output as well.
The iPhone 7 has 2GB of RAM, but the Plus model has 3GB. That gives the Plus a slight edge over the regular 7.
Battery life is better on the iPhone 7 Plus because its larger size can accommodate a slightly larger battery. You get an additional hour of internet use on LTE on the Plus model. Both are charged via the Lightning cable and sadly there’s no support for wireless charging.
Winner: iPhone 7 Plus
Design and durability
The overall design of both is similar to that introduced with the iPhone 6. Apple hit home the “seamless” design that blends the glass on the front and the rear case, and that’s partly due to a relocation of the antenna bands, which are to be found on the top and bottom edges of the devices. The buttons are in the same place, but the home button is no longer a button. The Force Touch home button acts like the Force Touch trackpad on the MacBook Pro — you’ll feel a Taptic vibration whenever you push down on it.
The camera, which still juts out a bit, is where you’ll find the main design difference between the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus (aside from size). The 7 Plus has a new dual-camera system, whereas the 7 only has a single rear camera. Both models come in rose gold, gold, silver, black, and a high-gloss jet-black variant.
The jet-black model brings us to durability. Due to its high-gloss nature, it’s the only color option that Apple recommended you get a case for, because it’s prone to scratches. That’s right — the company showcased and praised the jet-black finish, but wanted you to cover it up with a case. Go figure. Apple discontinued this jet black color option well before it retired the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are IP67 rated, meaning they’re water- and dust-resistant. You can take them underwater up to 1 meter for 30 minutes, though the rating’s intent is to protect the device from accidental water damage.
The 4.7-inch iPhone 7 has a resolution of 1,334 x 750 pixels (326 ppi) — that’s the same as the iPhone 6S. The 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus gets a bump to Full HD with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels (401 ppi), also the same on the 6S Plus.
But the Retina HD LED screens are better than ever before — Apple says the displays on both devices are 25% brighter and display a wider color gamut. So the comparison here really comes down to size. If you want a larger screen, go for the iPhone 7 Plus. If you want a smaller screen, the iPhone 7 is the smartphone for you. Although it’s worth noting that the iPhone 7 Plus screen is also significantly sharper.
Winner: iPhone 7 Plus
This is the meat of the comparison between the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus, and the bigger variant wins it easily. The iPhone 7 Plus is the phone you should get if you want a better camera experience, and that’s because of its dual-camera system.
That’s not to say the iPhone 7’s camera isn’t good — far from it. The 12-megapixel rear camera features a 28-mm wide-angle lens with an f/1.8 aperture. It’s 60 percent faster than the camera on the 6S, while also 30 percent more energy efficient. Even the True Tone flash has gotten an upgrade that offers up to 50 percent more light. The cameras can identify faces and bodies, and they also offer wide color capture. There’s even support for RAW image format, allowing for more control when editing photographs.
The front camera has a f/2.2 aperture and is packed with 7 megapixels. It has automatic image stabilization, whereas the rear is optically stabilized.
Take all of that and add it to the iPhone 7 Plus, except add another 12-megapixel rear camera. The second camera on the rear is a 56mm telephoto lens with a f/2.8 aperture. It essentially lets you zoom in on images at up to 10x magnification, with spectacular clarity and quality. Still, optical zoom is utilized until the 2x mark. Anything higher than that is a digital zoom.
There’s also an exciting blur feature, or bokeh, coming via a software update. It uses the dual-lens and some software tinkering to recognize the subject in a photo and blur out the background, like on DSLRs with wide apertures. It offers more depth to images, but you can turn this feature on or off. You’re also able to see a live preview before you take a shot.
The iPhone 7’s camera is great. But if you’re looking to choose one over the other, and photography is a top factor, get the iPhone 7 Plus.
Winner: iPhone 7 Plus
Software and updates
Both these iPhones were released with iOS 10, but have since been updated to iOS 13, and we expect them to continue getting updates for a while longer. The software experience is identical, aside from the larger screen in the iPhone 7 Plus and some extra options in the camera app.
The iPhone 7 dropped down to $350 for the 32GB model while the iPhone 7 Plus dropped to $450, but Apple doesn’t offer any iPhone 7 models anymore. If you want one you’ll find them at some retailers, like Amazon and Best Buy, and in the thriving used market.
Overall winner: iPhone 7 Plus
It really comes down to size preference and the camera. If you want a compact phone, the iPhone 7 is cheaper and offers a great camera experience.
If you’re a photographer, chances are you’ll want to take advantage of the dual-camera setup on the iPhone 7 Plus. That’s really what dazzled us about the bigger iPhone. The additional hour of battery life, bigger and sharper screen, and 1GB of extra RAM are also tempting. Given the choice, even with the higher price, we’d pick the 7 Plus every time.