How about the new iPhone 7?

Apple predictably announced the new iPhone 7 this week.  I will not go into great detail about the changes, but more focus on offering advice whether you should upgrade and how to upgrade.

What about the new iPhone7?  Well, although there are lot of changes inside, the outside dimensions and shapes are identical to the 6 & 6s models of 2014 & 2015 respectively.  There are still 2 models: iPhone 7 (4.7” screen) and iPhone 7 Plus (5.5” screen).  Here are the major changes:

New colors - (glossy & matte black, replacing Space Grey, both with black fronts).  Otherwise front white iPhones offer Silver, Gold and Rose Gold backs.

New cameras - The smaller iPhone 7 gets a camera with much improved low-light capabilities and real image stabilization that removes most hand shake blur from your photos, especially in low light where the phone wants to keep the shutter open longer.  The larger iPhone 7 Plus gets the same low light performance plus dual cameras - one for wide angle, one for telephoto.  Both get improved front facing cameras (selfie) cameras.  There are other camera improvements but I will leave it to you to research them.

Water & dust resistant - in a practical sense the iPhone 7 is waterproof - up to 1 meter (39”) deep for 30 minutes.  This will protect them from typical accidents like dropping in the toilet (the most common water damage), spills and immersing in the shallow end of a pool.  A nice improvement.

No headphone jack - to allow the water resistance and to make room for other features, there is no longer a headphone jack.  A Lightning to headphone jack adapter is included with the phone as are a pair of Lightning headphones.  Bluetooth audio is obviously still supported fully.

Better battery life - on average about 2 hours more for the small phone, 1 hour more for the large phone compared to the 6s (which were better than the 6).

Storage improvements - 16GB storage is no longer offered (thankfully).  32BGB is the minimum and for $100 increase, 128GB then 256GB for another $100.  32GB is enough if you do not have a lot of music and don’t take a lot of pictures.  128GB is enough for almost anyone.

In addition to the new iPhone 7 models, Apple will continue to sell and will reduce the price on the iPhone 6s models by $100 (and increase the storage identically to the 7).  They will also continue to offer the excellent, tiny iPhone SE.  This was introduced last spring and is roughly an iPhone 5 with iPhone 6 guts.  A nice phone if you like a tiny phone.

Should you upgrade?  Here are some thoughts.

  • If you are currently using an iPhone 4, 4s or 5 or 5c - YES, you should upgrade.  No question.
  • If you are currently using an iPhone 5s - you should probably upgrade - you will appreciate the improvements.
  • If you are currently using an iPhone 6 - it is your call.  The changes are incremental for sure.  One thing to consider is that you can still get decent money for an iPhone 6.  A year from now you will not.
  • If you are currently using an iPhone 6s - I have hard hard time recommending an upgrade as they are not that different.  However, just like the 6, you will get a lot of money for your 6s now, way less next year.

If you get a new iPhone I highly recommend ordering it directly from, not your carrier.  On the Apple website you can specify your carrier, color, storage and it will offer you more payment and contract options that you can get from going to your carrier.

How to upgrade:

The most important part of upgrading to a new phone lies with your old phone.  I highly recommend that you do NOT let your carrier (AT&T, Verizon, etc.) do this for you.  They will most certainly mess up the process and you will likely not get all of your content moved from your old phone to your new phone (pictures, apps, texts, etc).

Here is how to do it yourself - it really is easy:

  1. Leave your new iPhone in the box for right now.
  2. “Force quit” all of the apps that may be running on your device. 
  3. Click the Home button to take you to your home page of apps.
  4. Double-click that same Home button.
  5. You will see miniature window of each app.  With your finger, swipe up on each window to drag it to the top of the screen.
  6. Do this with each app until there are no more.  There will be a miniature version of your home page. You will not be able to drag it to the top.
  7. Click the Home button again to return to your home page.
  8. Hold the power button of your device (top right or upper right side) until you see “Slide to power off”.  Slide it.
  9. After about 30 seconds, hold that same power button to turn your device back on.  Fully unlock the device back until you return to your home page.

Now, let’s backup your device - make of a copy of its apps, settings and your content (pictures, videos, emails, texts, etc.) to somewhere safe. This is the most important part of getting a new iPhone!!  I recommend you use iCloud to do this.  It will need to be on Wi-Fi for this to work:

  1. Open the Settings app and go to “iCloud”
  2. Proceed to the Backup setting and tap it.
  3. Make sure that iCloud Backup is switched on.  If it is not, tap it to turn it on.  Below that, tap “Back Up Now.”  Wait for the backup to complete.
  4. If you get a backup error it is often that there is not enough room on iCloud to backup.  If that is the case, go to Settings > iCloud > Storage > Change Storage Plan.  Buy the $0.99/month version of more iCloud Storage then go back to the steps above to try backing up again.

You are now ready to open the box of the new iPhone.

Before you turn on your new iPhone, turn off your old iPhone.  Using a small bent paperclip, remove the SIM card on the right side of the old iPhone and insert it into the same slot on the new iPhone.  This will transfer your phone number.  If the SIMs are different sizes and you cannot do this, contact your carrier (using another phone) for instructions on how to transfer your phone number.

Turn on your new iPhone and answer the first few easy questions (language, country, Wi-Fi network, etc).  Log into your iCloud account using your AppleID, then choose “Restore from iCloud Backup”.  Choose the most recent backup of your old iPhone.  This restore may take an hour or more.

That is it!  You can do it yourself and the results will be much superior to having your carrier do it.

If you let your carrier do this and they (likely) mess it up, I can fix it, but it will require a service call of an hour or two.  Did I mention to not let your carrier set up your new iPhone?