Zee Media Bureau
San Francisco/New Delhi: Apple has launched the highly-anticipated iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 plus along with next-generation `Apple Watch Series 2`, thus putting an end to round-the-clock rumours that had sent the world of technology into a tizzy for quite some time now.
The new iPhone features new advanced camera systems, come with more power and performance, more battery life, immersive stereo speakers and is the first water and dust resistant iPhone.
Availability of the latest iPhones
iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will be available in more than 25 countries beginning September 16. It will be available to customers in India beginning October 7.
iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will be available in silver, gold, rose gold and the new black finish in 32GB, 128GB and 256GB models starting at USD 649 while the iPhone 7 Plus will start at USD 769. Apple has done away with the 16 GB variant.
iPhone 7 has something missing
The small socket millions of us have used for years to plug in headphones.
While some fans opposed the widely anticipated move - one online petition urging Apple to keep the headphone jack drew more than 300,000 signatures - equipment suppliers and experts heralded a change in how users will interact with their devices.
Axing the jack, they say, paves the way for discreet, bean-sized earbuds that can simultaneously translate, filter out unwanted noise or let us control other devices by voice - and drive up the value of the so-called `hearables` market to $16 billion within five years.
Apple justified the removal of the jack as a courageous move to ditch a 100-year-old technology and make more space inside the iPhone. It offered as alternatives a lightning cable earphone and an adapter for the old type, but touted new wireless earphones.
That bigger puzzle includes improving how computers understand human commands.
Apple pointed to improvements in its Siri voice control software, which can be activated by double tapping the AirPod.
Other major technology companies are also making strides, with Amazon.com Inc`s Alexa software letting you control an Internet-connected speaker with your voice. Alphabet`s Google has its own version.
Among China`s technology leaders, Baidu is working on improving transcribing speech, and says its Deep Speech 2 system can transcribe English and Chinese about three times faster than a human. It says the number of voice interactions with its products has tripled since the start of last year.
Start-ups, too, are forging a path. New York-based Scarlet, funded by Samsung Electronics, this year launched an intelligent assistant app that briefs the user on relevant information based on weather, outside events and your calendar.
No voice needed
But many, including some major hardware players, sense the time is near.
Samsung last month launched its IconX wireless earbuds, which include biometrics, while Sony`s Xperia Ear promises to deliver weather and message notifications via voice, and to recognise input either by voice or head movements. LG Electronics said last week it was including Alexa in its SmartThinQ Hub, a device used to connect home appliances over the Internet.
And some are already pioneering the next step - where voice commands are unnecessary.
Water and dust resistance, dual-lens camera (in iPhone 7 Plus), a pressure-sensitive home button, 7 MP HD front camera and 12 MP rear main camera.
The phone will come in four colours: Jet Black, gold, silver and rose gold.
IPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will be available in 32GB, 128GB and 256GB models starting at USD 649.
Optical image stabilisation in all new iPhones, allowing for up to 3x longer exposure.
Apple`s twin lens setup is wide angle and telephoto in the iPhone 7 Plus.
For actual, optical zoom, one lens handles 1x zoom; the other handles 2x, the report added. iPhone 7 Plus now has 10x zoom.
The camera app is getting a "portrait" mode that`ll use the dual-lenses and depth mapping to simulate the DSLR visual quality.
The device also has a quad-LED flash with 50 percent light output, and can detect/compensate for the imperceptible flickering of energy efficient lights.
One new feature -- which may upset some consumers -- is the removal of the headphone jack, requiring audio to be delivered via Apple`s proprietary "lightning" connector or by wireless.
Apple will also include an adaptor to allow consumers to use existing headphones with the iPhone.
Through Apple's iPhone Upgrade Program, customers in the US, and for the first time in the UK and China, will also be able to get an unlocked iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus.
Some still waiting for iPhone 8
Apple typically gives its main product, which accounts for more than half of its revenue, a big makeover every other year and the last major redesign was the iPhone 6 in 2014.
Many are expecting a three-year cycle this time, culminating in a major redesign for 2017 to be called iPhone 8.
Apple has reported declines in iPhone sales for the last two quarters, which raised the stakes for the iPhone 7. Some consumers and analysts are considering waiting until 2017.
And the reason behind this? Could be speculation for now, but it’s going to the 10th anniversary of iPhone!