Apple's iPhone 7 is unveiled

EDGAR reports live from the San Francisco event where the wireless headphones and Apple Watch 2 were also announced.

Robert Chilton September 8, 2016

Apple fans were catapulted into seventh heaven yesterday with the launch of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus in San Francisco, as it was announced that for the very first time the new phones will hit the Middle East market at the same time as the US, on September 16. So expect queues at Dubai's Apple store.

In a packed theatre about 50 miles from Apple HQ in Cupertino, the tech brand's CEO Tim Cook unveiled the new phone, describing it as "the best iPhone we've ever made." Also revealed was the Apple Watch Series 2 and its new wireless headphones named AirPods - more details here.

With Apple's 10th anniversary next year - at which another, bolder phone is expected to launch - this event felt dangerously close to an anti-climax, an opinion whispered by several tech journalists for whom this was their fourth or fifth Apple extravaganza.

However, whenever Apple cut the ribbon on a hot new product, the adrenaline inevitably starts to surge and the excitement in the vast Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco soared into the red zone as loud whoops and cheers greeted the arrival of Cook on stage after an entertaining carpool karaoke skit on the big screen with Cook, James Corden and Pharrell. 

Wearing baggy blue jeans, a long sleeve polo shirt and sneakers - there's that successful people dress sense again - Cook explained the iPhone 7's key features, many of which had been leaked and discussed at length in the week prior to the grand unveiling. 

Upgraded camera

While both phones - the iPhone 7 & and 7 Plus - come with an upgraded 12-megapixel camera, it was the 7 Plus' dual camera that was perhaps the main talking point from the event. Thanks to a wide-angle and telephoto lens, the camera features greater zoom at 10-megapixels. A wider number of colours are captured by the new models that are now 30 per cent more energy efficient.

The camera performs a mind-boggling 100 billion operations in 25 milliseconds. Photography clearly continues to be central to the future of not only Apple but the entire smartphone market, something proven by the numerous billboards scattered around the city displaying photos taken by Apple users on the existing iPhone 6s. 

No headphone jack

As expected this new phone also sounds the death knell for the headphone jack. The Lightning cable is now standard for Apple earbuds, but an adaptor will come with every new iPhone to enable us to use those old headphones we can't let go of.

Apple's senior VP, Phil Schiller, said the jack was axed to make room for more tech inside and that, "It's about having the courage to move on and try something new." 

Here are the key features of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus:

  • New black and jet black gloss finish.
  • Re-engineered home button with Taptic Engine.
  • Dual camera, 12-megapixels, better flash, optical image stabilisation, flicker sensor to detect artificial lighting.
  • Improved Retina HD display creates cinema standard screen that is 25 per cent brighter than before.
  • Stereo speakers introduced for the first time.
  • New A10 Fusion chip contains 3.3 billion transistors and is 40 per cent faster than iPhone 6. It's the most powerful chip put into a smartphone and is 120 times faster than the first ever iPhone released almost ten years ago.
  • Battery lasts two hours longer than the iPhone 6.
  • iPhone 7: 4.7-inch screen; iPhone 7 Plus: 5.5-inch screen.
  • Price: iPhone 7 $649; iPhone 7 Plus $749.
  • Available in silver, gold, rose gold, black and jet black.
  • Memory: 32gb, 128gb, 256gb (jet black 128 and 256gb only).
  • Orders from September 9. Shipping from September 16. The phones will be available in the Middle East on the same day as the US.

There's no debate that the new jet black finish on one incarnation of the phone is a highlight. Sir Jony Ive, chief design officer at Apple, said, "Our obsession is to simplify and improve and bring absolute unity and efficiency to the design. The high gloss black finish comes from rotational 3D polishing to improve imperfections and produce a pristine mirror like surface." 

Cook added the iPhone 7 will operate on the new iOS 10 system due on September 13. He concluded, "The iPhone is a cultural phenomenon and we've sold more than one billion. It's a gorgeous new design." 

The iPhone 7 was launched against a backdrop of widespread reports that the groundbreaking gadget - which accounted for two-thirds of Apple's revenue in 2015 - had suffered its first dip in sales since its launch ten years ago. Revenue from the iPhone dropped a nerve-jangling 23 per cent in the quarter ending June 25 and with rivals such as Samsung and Huawei gaining ground on the American behemoth, the iPhone is at a critical stage of its still young life.

Toss in the unwelcome news of the $13 billion tax mess that Apple find themselves in, plus the 4.9 per cent drop in the company's share price over the last 12 months and you could imagine Tim Cook, who's now spent five years in the CEO hot seat after replacing Steve Jobs, might fancy a holiday next week.

The good news for Cook is that he'll be able to capture the beach sunsets at his tropical hideaway beautifully on the iPhone 7's camera.

The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will launch in the Middle East on September 16 at the Apple Store in Mall of the Emirates, Dubai.