iPhone 7 Plus review

This is Apple's cheapest big-screen iPhone

iPhone 7 Plus review

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'The iPhone 7 Plus: is it a phone worth the cost?' is probably the question on your lips - and the answer is yes. In fact it's excellent, but there are a few caveats.

People will be quick to point out that not a lot has changed over the iPhone 6S Plus, and they'd be right. Apart from the waterproof body, extra power under the hood, dual cameras and questionable removal of the headphone jack, the two handsets are rather similar, especially visually.

There's not really any big innovation to speak of – although the Cupertino firm may point to the new camera engine and force touch home key - so the 7 Plus is another incremental upgrade, a bag of refinements making it two in a row from Apple since it introduced its first phablet in the iPhone 6 Plus.

While it may have not re-written the mobile landscape with the 7 Plus, Apple has taken the weaker parts of the 6S Plus and enhanced them on its new phone. The camera now feels supercharged over its predecessor, producing even better shots on a regular basis with minimum effort.

iPhone 7 Plus review

Battery life is improved, although not by much, and the waterproof design provides you with extra peace of mind that your expensive new smartphone will be able to survive a slip into the bath - whether that matters to you depends on how careless you are with your handset.

The price is fairly high, even in 2019, though it's not as if Apple is going above and beyond all competitors.

The other potential sticking point is the lack of a headphone jack. The internet has been rife with opinion for and against the move Apple calls "courageous" – and it will be a matter of personal opinion as to which side of the fence you fall on. Bundled Lightning connected EarPods and a 3.5mm port adaptor soften the blow, but for some this will annoy.

iPhone 7 Plus review

Who's it for?

The iPhone 7 Plus is certainly the better of the two 2016 iPhones. It has a bigger battery, dual cameras and more RAM under the hood, providing excellent performance and if your decision is based on specs alone you won't be disappointed with the iPhone 7 Plus.

The camera is a serious leap forward from previous iPhones, and with its easy-to-use interface it's perfect for those wanting a dependable yet simple snapper in their pocket which can perform well in pretty much any scenario.

Add to that the water resistance body and you've finally feel like you have an iPhone which can survive the little mishaps life throws at you, which is good news for the more active.

The large screen, enhanced performance and new dual speakers also make the iPhone 7 Plus great for those who like to game or Netflix on the go without the hindrance of headphones.

While this may be the better phone on paper, the iPhone 7 is the one which will likely appeal to a wider demographic with its more manageable form factor and lower price tag.

iPhone 7 Plus review

Should I buy it?

Apple has given the iPhone 7 Plus enough new features for it to be seen as the next generation iPhone after the iPhone 6S Plus, but it's a close run thing. 

For those still using an iPhone 6/6 Plus (or equivalent Android phone) though, the iPhone 7 Plus is a much more enticing proposition, and you'll appreciate the upgrades and performance boost much more.

There is a case to be made for saving yourself some money without losing loads of features and picking up the iPhone 6S Plus instead, but the upgrades on the iPhone 7 Plus - especially the dual camera - make it a much more impressive buy than the smaller iPhone 7.

The iPhone 7 Plus isn't the only handset around, so before you splash the cash on Apple's budget big-screened smartphone check out some of its key rivals below.

iPhone XR

If you've got substantially more to spend but still can't quite justify a flagship then consider the iPhone XR.

It's much newer and more powerful than the iPhone 7 Plus and actually has a larger 6.1-inch screen, wrapped up in a more modern design with smaller bezels and no home button. There's only one rear camera, but it's a good one and this phone should be far more future-proofed than the 7 Plus.

iPhone 8 Plus

The iPhone 8 Plus is superficially similar to the iPhone 7 Plus, but with an improved screen, a glass back (allowing for wireless charging), a better dual-lens camera and more power.

It's also the more expensive option of course, but still undercuts most of Apple's smartphone range. The choice really will come down to how much these improvements matter to you, but bear in mind also that the 8 Plus is likely to keep getting software updates for longer.

iPhone 6S Plus

One true adversary of the iPhone 7 Plus is its predecessor: the iPhone 6S Plus. Is the newer one that much better than the previous year's model? Yes, yes it is.

Starting with the biggest feature changes, the iPhone 7 Plus is water-resistant – a never-before-seen claim on an Apple smartphone. 

Next up, it's more powerful. Apple's latest runs circles around the previous iteration, thanks to its bolstered 3GB RAM and a move from two cores to four here.

Of course, it lacks a 3.5mm headphone jack, but that aside, it makes up for it with an added speaker and an increased baseline of flash storage. In some respects, you're getting more for less.

iPhone 7

As usual, the iPhone 7 Plus has a smaller sibling. However, there's more than just size separating the iPhone 7 from the larger Plus.

Running down the feature list, the phones are nearly identical – down to the dual-speaker setup, Taptic-powered Home button, and the jump from two to four cores in their respective processors.

However, they do differ in ways that might impact your purchase decision. Most noticeably, the iPhone 7 lacks the dual-camera setup found on the iPhone 7 Plus that powers the bokeh-injected Portrait mode. If you haven't seen it, it looks awesome.

Next, the smaller iPhone 7 houses 2GB RAM compared to the 3GB RAM you'll find in the iPhone 7 Plus. Not a huge deal for most, but power users will need the speed to make this purchase last for the year (or years) to come.

Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus

A bigger screen, a higher resolution and a more modern design but a price tag that these days is often lower. The Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus has a lot got for it.

If you're already firmly camped on the iPhone side of the fence then you're unlikely to be too fussed about Samsung's offering, but if you're considering a switch and can't stretch to the Samsung Galaxy S10 range then the Galaxy S8 Plus is well worth considering.

John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.