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iPhone 7 vs. iPhone 6S: Should you make the leap to the next generation?

It has been roughly a year since the iPhone 6S was announced, a small eternity in the world of smartphones. Those who feel as if their current iPhone is looking a bit like an artifact from a long-dead civilization, fear not! On September 7, Apple unveiled the long-rumored iPhone 7 (as well as the more powerful iPhone 7 Plus). The new iPhone models look somewhat similar to the previously generation, but despite that, there are some notable differences in hardware. So how does the iPhone 7 compare to its predecessor, the iPhone 6S? Here are the specs.

Related: Hands on: Apple iOS 10

iPhone 6S

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iPhone 7

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Size 5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28 inches 5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28 inches
Weight 5.04 ounces 4.87 ounces
Display size 4.7 inches 4.7 inches
Resolution 1,334 x 750 pixels 1,334 x 750 pixels
OS iOS 10 iOS 10
Capacity 16 / 64 / 128GB 32 / 128 / 256GB
Processor A9 chip with 64-bit architecture, M9 motion coprocessor A10 chip with 64-bit architecture, M10 motion coprocessor
RAM 2GB 2GB
Connectivity 4G LTE, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, NFC 4G LTE, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, NFC
Camera 12MP rear, 5MP front 12MP rear, 7MP front
Video 4K at 30fps, 1080p at 30 or 60fps 4K at 30fps, 1080p at 30 or 60fps
Bluetooth 4.2 4.2
Sensors Touch ID fingerprint sensor, barometer, three-axis gyro, accelerometer, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor Touch ID fingerprint sensor, barometer, three-axis gyro, accelerometer, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor
Apple Pay Yes Yes
Battery Up to 10 hours of internet on 3G Up to 12 hours of internet on 3G
Charger Lightning Lightning
Marketplace Apple App Store Apple App Store
Price from $549, or $99 with contract from $649
Availability Now available September 16th on AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile
DT Review 4.5 out of 5 stars Coming soon

Size and design

At first glance, the iPhone 7 might look very similar to the iPhone 6s. That might be because they have essentially the same design. Like the 6S, the 7 sports a 4.7-inch screen with a 1334 x 750 pixel display. Once you turn the screens on, however, you may notice a difference. Apple claims the iPhone 7’s screen is 25 percent brighter and can display a wider range of colors.

Despite the similarities in appearance, the iPhone 7’s body is a bit hardier than the 6S’s, achieving an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance. The IP67 rating specifically means that it is “dust tight” and protected from immersion in water, according to Ingress Protection.

Aesthetically-minded iPhone users may wish to take note of the new color options for the iPhone 7: jet black and matte black. The jet black model features a particularly magnificent glossy finish, although Apple warns that it is also easily scratched. Matte black is, well, matte. “Space Grey” is being retired, but silver, gold, and rose gold remain an option.

Running your eyes over the iPhone 7, what might stand out most is what’s missing. Specifically, a headphone jack. This is because Apple has chosen to do away with headphone jacks, adding another speaker to the iPhone for “increased dynamic range.” Consequently, iPhone 7 users will need to use a converter to plug their wired headphones into the phone’s lightning port, or else make the switch to Bluetooth headphones. To aid in this push toward wireless audio, the iPhone 7 has a new, more powerful wireless chip dubbed the W1. The new chip will support Apple’s new, bluetooth earbuds, the AirPods.

Altogether, the iPhone 7’s design features are mostly incremental improvements, with the removal of the headphone jack being a bold move that could excite or disappoint, depending on one’s perspective. If you can tolerate (or even appreciate) the new iPhone’s focus on wireless audio, the 7’s design is overall better than the 6S’s.

Power and battery life

The iPhone 7 features the latest Apple chip, the A10 Fusion. This is a 64-bit, quad-core processor, and Apple claims that it is 40 percent faster than the A9 chip found in the 6S. Notably, the iPhone 7 is the first Apple smartphone to feature more than two processor cores.

The A10 will also give the 7 better graphics processing speed — 50 percent faster, in theory — and 2GB of RAM (the same as the 6S). The A10’s four cores are divided into two pairs: one pair handles high performance tasks like gaming, while the other pair handles high efficiency tasks, which should mean less battery usage than previous Apple chips. According to Apple, the 7’s battery should last up to two hours longer than that of the 6S.

All things considered, the iPhone 7 will be more powerful than the 6S. This is especially important given that Apple may put an increased focus on gaming in the iPhone’s future (the press conference featured Nintendo’s shigeru Miyamoto announcing a new Mario game for iPhones).

Camera

Shutterbugs may balk at first when they see that the iPhone 7’s main camera is only 12MP, the same as that of the iPhone 6S. However, the 7 features optical image stabilization, which helps to reduce blur in photos and videos. The 7 also improves on the 6S’s True Tone flash, adding two LED lights, adding up to 50 percent more light, a boon to iPhone photographers in low-light environments. New camera features come at a good time, as iOS 10 is adding support for the RAW image format. Overall, the iPhone 7 makes some minor improvements to the camera, but is not a massive leap forward from the 6S.

Price and availability

The iPhone 7 will be available September 16, with pre-orders available on September 9. The new phone will come with three different options for storage capacity: a 32GB model for $649, a 128GB model for $749, and a 256GB model for $849 (note that the Jet Black model does not come in 32GB). Carrier options include AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile. If you would rather pay a lot less for last year’s model, Apple is dropping the price of the 6S to $99 with a contract or $549 without.

Conclusion

Is the iPhone 7 better than the iPhone 6S? More or less, yes. It is certainly more powerful, with an improved screen and camera.

However, outside of the next generation A10 chip, these improvements are largely minor. Whether or not you should replace your 6S with a 7 depends on how much you crave these small advances, as well as certain quality-of-life changes such as water resistance.

The most noteworthy change in the jump to the 7 is the replacement of a headphone jack with stereo speakers; users who are ready to go wireless for their headphones will likely appreciate the iPhone 7’s improved wireless audio, but those who have a favorite pair of wired headphones will be annoyed.

Update: This article originally listed the iPhone 7’s front camera as being 5MP. This has been corrected.