Apple's recent strategy of bringing out an iPhablet that includes all the best bits of the smaller new iPhone has been a strong one – but this year, the iPhone 7 Plus is a phone that's markedly better than the smaller model.
That's mostly achieved through two things: improved battery life and an innovative camera. The former is always going to be better, given the larger size, but by adding a dual-camera setup to the mix Apple has made a conscious effort to make the 7 Plus seem like a distinctly different choice.
There are also new color configurations, more space to throw in your media and apps, and changes to the internals – we lose the headphone jack, but gain a new kind of vibrating motor.
Here our iPhone 7 Plus video review:
All this added fun comes at a cost though: the 7 Plus is the most expensive iPhone ever. So is it a price worth paying, or are you going to feel out of pocket?
As we said in our iPhone 7 review, there are many, many similarities between 2016's iPhones and the 6S duo from last year – and while the iPhone 7 Plus may be the better of the two new iPhones, it hasn't exactly moved on in leaps and bounds from the iPhone 6S Plus.
iPhone 7 Plus price and release date
- Out now (but limited stock)
- Launched on September 16 2016
- Starts at $769 (£719, AU$1,229) for 32GB model
The iPhone 7 Plus went on sale on September 16… sort of. That was the official release date given by Apple during its iPhone launch event, but as release day dawned it transpired that the 7 Plus had been so popular during the pre-order period there wasn't any stock left at Apple Stores.
At the time of writing, the Apple website says the typical wait for iPhone 7 Plus delivery is 2-3 weeks, so while you will be able to get hold of Apple's new phablet before Christmas, you still can't pop down to your local Apple boutique and walk out with one in your hand.
If you're not in a rush then availability will improve over the next few months – and you may need that time to save up, given the hefty price tag.
The iPhone 7 Plus price starts at $769 (£719, AU$1,229) for the entry-level 32GB model. Apple has finally (and thankfully) done away with the 16GB storage option, so you're getting double the storage over the entry-level iPhone 6 Plus and 6S Plus – but you'll be paying an extra $20 (£100, AU$40) more for the privilege.
That's not all that much extra – although for those in the UK that price hike has been amplified by the vote to leave the EU and the subsequent fall in the value of the pound, hitting iPhone-loving Brits squarely in the pocket.
Apple has also ditched the 64GB model in favor of a new 256GB option at the top of the range, with 128GB dropping down to become the middle storage option.
The 128GB iPhone 7 Plus price is $869 (£819, AU$1,419), while power users will need to shell out a whopping $969 (£919, AU$1,569) if they want to get their hands on the 256GB version.
- Water resistance is genuinely useful
- Lack of a headphone jack is initially frustrating
- More of the same design, with the same look as predecessors
It's easy to tell the iPhone 7 Plus apart from its predecessors, as it's the only iPhone to sport two cameras on its rear.
Aside from the bulkier camera block, lack of a headphone port (more on that in a minute) and a couple of new colors though, Apple's stuck with exactly the same design that's served it well for its previous two iPhone iterations.
If you've owned, or are familiar with, the iPhone 6 Plus or 6S Plus then you'll know exactly what the iPhone 7 Plus looks like.
The rounded corners, aluminum frame and minimalist styling means the iPhone 7 Plus retains its premium status, and with the introduction of new black and 'jet black' colors, fans have two new ways to show their dark side.
If you're curious about the shiny jet black finish, check out our iPhone 7 review, but if you're interested in the standard black color then stay right here.
We're fans of this matte black finish, as it gives the iPhone 7 Plus an understated yet elegant look – basically the polar opposite to the gaudy rose gold that's also an option here.
Moving on to the lack of a headphone jack, it's a decision Apple has described as "courageous", but while it's a positive step forward for the mobile industry, the short-term effects are the ones that are making the most noise for now.
- Here's what comes in the box when you buy the iPhone 7 Plus
Apple does include an adapter in the iPhone 7 Plus box, allowing you to plug in your standard 3.5mm headphone connection – but it's not a particularly appealing compromise. It also includes a set of lightning-connected EarPods, so you can avoid the adapter if you don't mind Apple's creations – but immediately there's a problem.
If you're someone who tends to find themselves charging their iPhone while also listening to music via a pair of wired headphones, that's a no-go with the iPhone 7 Plus. It's one or the other – unless you use an adaptor that's rather unattractive, and which you'll have to purchase separately.
The easy way around this is to invest in a set of wireless headphones – Apple's own AirPods will be available later this year for $159 (£159, AU$229) – but any Bluetooth set will work with the handset if you want to spend less.
It's far from a crisis at Apple, but the inconvenience is real – and it's one we experienced during our review – although it's one that can be easily overcome if you're willing to compromise a little.
A new feature that's much less controversial is the IP67 rating for the iPhone 7 Plus, meaning it's both dust-proof and water-resistant.
It'll be able to survive an accidental slip into the bath, or a quick email bashed out in the shower, with the official test showing it's good for a half-hour dip at a depth of up to one meter in freshwater.
It's worth noting that it's not fully waterproof though, and frequent exposure to water may well spell trouble – but the iPhone is now more capable than ever of surviving life's little accidents.
Measuring 158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3mm, the 7 Plus is exactly the same size as the 6S Plus it's replacing, although it has dropped slightly in weight, from 192g to 188g. For users looking to upgrade from the now two-year-old 6 Plus, the 7 Plus is slightly thicker, and still a little heavier than your current device.
You're unlikely to notice the difference in the hand though, as it'll still stretch your one-handed dexterity to the max, especially when it comes to hitting the back button in the top-left corner.
Apple's 'reachability' feature, while sees the top of the screen jump down to halfway with a double-tap of the home key, is still in play here, which helps alleviate the sheer height of the handset dictated by the Cupertino firm's now-iconic chunky bezels.
Bringing all this together, Apple has another well-styled iPhone on its hands, and while it hasn't broken any new ground in terms of looks, this is the most robust and refined handset we've seen from the firm to date.