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Apple iPhone 7 (Plus): the features Android already has

Apple just recently announced the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. It proudly presented its new smartphone and impressed upon viewers the innovation that went into the creation of this new model. But Android users will recognize many of the “new” iPhone features. We’ve put together a list to compare the new iPhone functions and show how innovative––or not––they really are.

No More Headphone Jack: Apple’s Bet Could Work

Phil Schiller said “courage” was the main reason Apple decided to do away with the headphone jack. He also provided one or two technical reasons, of course. The advantage of digital transmission in smartphones is that more space is left open for other components. Digital sound transmission therefore also prevents any loss of quality due to the connection of phone and headphones. The electronics in the headphones are clearly important; the transformation of digital sound into analog signals happens inside the headphones.

Some early Android smartphones already got rid of the headphone jack; the Moto Z was the first. Taking a quick peek at the comments on our articles will show that this change was barely debated.

Hans-Georg Kluge
While Apple's Lightning earpods will be successful, other platforms will probably stick with analog technology
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Peace out Plug: Lenovo Eliminates the Headphone Jack on the Moto Z model

We can hypothesize, though, that Apple will succeed due to its popularity. Firstly, Apple is peddling Lightning EarPods as well as an adapter, both of which can be plugged into a car adapter when on the go. Secondly, Apple has already established a significant accessories market for itself, which indicates to us that these new gadgets will be widely available in a number of different price ranges.

It’s becoming more difficult for Android makers to declare battle on the 3.5 mm plug; USB-C is the new magic word. This piece supports audio transmission technically, but a clearly defined accessories market doesn’t yet exist. Now we have to wait and see if the bet of abolishing the headphone jack will pay off. Lenovo entered the wager even earlier than Apple with its own Moto Z, in order to save on space. Lenovo has, however, already backpedaled a bit with the Moto Z Play function. A competition among brands will show which smartphones will keep the headphone jack as an attractive feature. What customers need to know, is that there will be three interfaces for headphones instead of just one. Interesting decision, Apple, to claim this innovation as your own.

Moto Z without a headphone jack. / © Lenovo

As an aptX-fanatic, I had to smile at the idea of a “wireless sound connection.” Apple thinks it can perfect wireless audio? It really shouldn’t be that difficult for the technicians to optimize the audio transmission; no, the more difficult problem was likely the connectivity protocol. aptX usually employs Bluetooth, although this connection is not exactly reliable. Apple isn’t saying which method of transmission it’s using. Most likely, it’s Bluetooth or Wi-Fi Direct protocol, considering AirPods work not only with iPhones and iPads, but also with Macs. The product will be officially released in October and will cost around 179 euros. The release of the AirPods seems to suggest that Apple takes products that are already on the market and perfects them for their own brand. That’s why the Apple AirPods seem to have missed the mark on a style-level.

HTC, as well as a few other manufacturers, have already produced stereo speakers. This feature has something of an up and down relationship with consumers. I myself don’t particularly enjoy the stereo effect. The loud and better-balanced sound and tone on these smartphones have more of an impact on my listening experience.

LG and Huawei Already Have Two Cameras

The camera on the iPhone 7 Plus is in fact two. We’ve already seen this feature, though, from LG and Huawei. The LG G5 has not only a standard camera but also a wide angle came with a higher-resolution sensor. The wide-angle photos shouldn’t be overlooked, but the more impressive feature is the zoom. Similarly, Huawei’s version has a special contrast sensor that helps the camera take better pictures better in low-light.

The dual-camera setup supposedly means the iPhone will have optimized zoom. As if that’s not enough, Apple has also created a third version of this dual-camera setup. The second camera (in Apple jargon tele-photo) has a different focal length and therefore an even more optimal zoom. And Apple hasn’t forgotten about those who want even more than 2x the zoom: digitally, of course, but with a natural tele-photo zoom advantage. Those who have experience with zoom on most digital cameras know that the clarity of these photos isn’t always premium. We’ll now need to test out these new cameras to see for ourselves if Apple really did develop a smartphone camera with real zoom function. I personally am rather optimistic that the results will deliver.

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The dual-camera Huawei P9. / © AndroidPIT

Google and Apple do have something in common: they both frown upon MicroSD cards. Android only moderately supports SD cards, whereas iOS doesn’t at all. So let’s turn our attention to internet storage. Apple has updated its pitiful 16 GB model to include more storage space. This is still a concern with older iPhones that Apple continues to sell. Photos and music take up an enormous amount of space and the apps are getting bigger with every generation. Instead of offering 32 GB of storage, Apple has now decided to step it up to a 64 GB option. iPhones now even come in 128 GB and 256 GB models.

LG and Samsung also outfitted their top smartphones with 64 GB of internal storage in the second half of 2016. At IFA, we even found a few mid-range options with 32 GB. Clearly, we are trending towards more storage. Apple is acting as a model and providing the market with an even more suped-up version. Nonetheless, eliminating the 64 GB version means buyers will likely tend towards the pricier 128 GB option.

Processor: Apple’s A10 Fusion is a Sensible Development

As an Android user, I’ve always been a bit jealous about the performance of iPhones. One thing is for certain, Apple’s Ax Chips are extremely fast and far ahead of the competition from Qualcomm & Co. Apple structures its chips around every day performance, which is largely based on single-core performance. A lot of kernels now need to step up the competition and deliver a better product. For comparison, Samsung’s Exynos 8890 has eight kernels, and the Snapdragon has four. iPhones with the Apple-Ax chip have had two up until now.

apple iphone 7 1
Apples new iPhones: successful? / © Apple

Now Apple is introducing a four kernel system. Employing the BIG-little principal, their phones will feature two fast and two energy-saving kernels. Of course, Apple has to give everything its own name, so these kernels will be named differently. A specialized Apple controller will be used to regulate the efficiency of the kernels, too.

What’s important to note here, though, is that Apple has crossed a line with these chips. Fast CPUs are great, but use a lot of energy. The BIG-little principal is in place to ensure that everyday use requires less maintenance and support.

Innovative? Old news? I would say, Apple just expanded on an idea they already had with their mobile CPUs.

TL;DR: Little innovation, but a nice package

Android users will definitely recognize a lot of the features announced in Apple’s most recent unveiling. But, what Android users don’t have is one phone that encapsulates all of what Apple has put into theirs. Apple definitely solved the problem of the dual-camera setup better than Huawei and LG, which ups the costliness of their product.

Before the announcement, a lot of fans had written off this year’s iPhone as a bit boring––no new design, no new features, no new nothing. Even I went through periods of believing this. Apple admittedly didn’t wow us with any new functions, but it did build upon its solid brand foundation. And Apple once again did what Apple does best: improves the existing to function seamlessly within their own platform.

Readers' favorite comments

  • Carmelo Rivera 1 month ago

    I really don't care how fast or smooth IPhones are. Mid and high-end phones are fast enough. Give me great features, options, customization, flexibility, freedom, good settings, give me choice...give me Android. 📲


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  • Atirox 1 month ago Link to comment

    Um, I think you mean cores, not kernels...

    The kernel is the heart of the OS. While many OS' have multiple kernels, only one is ever in use. Windows XP for example, has 4 kernels, ntosktnl.exe, ntkrnlpa.exe, ntkrnlmp.exe, and ntkrpamp.exe. Depending on the system, it will either have the single processor or symmetrical multiprocessing kernels installed. When the machine is started, the bootloader selects the correct kernel based on BIOS or EFI configuration, and executes it. This kernel will run on all available cores.

    Since Android is based on Linux, and iOS is based on UNIX, it's only reasonable to assume that they operate similar to their desktop counterparts, but obviously optimized for the mobile space. This would mean that the iPhone 7 only uses one kernel that operates on all four cores available to the system, and not that it has four kernels. (It may very well have four kernels, but they wouldn't all be running at the same time. I also don't think Apple, the king of efficiency, would provide its iPhone with more than one kernel, especially because they can guarantee what kind of hardware its running on whereas Microsoft can't. Thus the multiple kernels to choose from.) It would also mean that the Exynos 8890 (an octa-core processor) uses one kernel that operates on 8 cores.

    I don't dispute that the kernel in Android could use better resource management and task scheduling. Take a look at the old Amiga desktops... While not as fancy as today's machines, they were able to implement multitasking on 256 KB of RAM that worked rather well. Windows 10, on a dual quad-core workstation with 4 GB of RAM per processor struggles at times with multitasking... (I know cause that's my current computer...)

    Just thought I'd throw my two cents in. ;)

  • The important point is that most improvement on ipnone 7 over iphone 6s is virtually invisible to average smart phone user. Faster cpu? Great for heavy gamers, but not for day to day average usage. Dual camera? Great for people who are super hyped about photography, but for average users, results will more or less be same as iphone 6S. Only thing that might be useful for average user is waterproofing iphone, but on the other hand, Apple took away 3.5mm headphone jack, which is heavily used by all smart phone users Android and iphone. In my daily commute, I can see many people listening to music using wired headphones, while I have yet to see anyone using bluetooth head phone with their smart phone! It will be fantastic to see Apple having to eat their hat and having to bring back 3.5 mm jack again!! courage my ass!

  • Android doesn't have these features. An operating system doesn't have two cameras. Please learn to distinguish the operating system from a phone. Phones have two cameras.

  • Apple has not had an original idea in years. They just try to keep up with other cell phones makers. I am not going to spend money on an Apple product that always update is every other week and there is no expandable memory and and I like that with android you can download apk you can not do that with Apple unless you jailbreak.

  • Depends on what you call "Android". To me, it's not only the OS that I'm questioning, but (as it is the case for iOS) also the policy behind it ... or politics, or management, or what you wish. It goes along the same thread regarding the app store and it's openness to crappy apps. Remember that most of the times the manufacturers are paid to add such things.
    Bloatware exists also on Apple phones and computers, as applications are already installed taking space and RAM and connectivity etc. But on Android the precise declination of bloatware is "crapware", meaning that it's poorly executed, useless, and sometimes even nefarious to the user or to the device.
    A centralized control on the quality of the apps would be a possibility, but the freedom of Android will be eventually lost. Agreements on common policies with OEMs is another path, but if too constraining I'd not be sure why the manufacturers should keep using Android instead of going with a home-made OS or other solutions.
    Carriers are other beasts in this zoo. Pure economic reasons (wrongly calculated) are jeopardizing their own efforts: I live in Europe, where carrier-free phone are a reality since a long time now. Only recently in the US customers are obtaining more choice for no-contract phones. As with most manufacturers, carriers install crapware, and this is again a part of the Android ecosystem as a whole, you cannot really separate the possibility offered to carriers or manufacturers to install their stuff, from the overall philosophy and policy that drives Android sales.

    • Spaldam 1 month ago Link to comment

      I've seen a lot of devices that run Android that are complete crap. That's the down side of having an open OS, but the upsides far outweigh this.

  • ljhaye 1 month ago Link to comment

    "But, what Android users don’t have is one phone that encapsulates all of what Apple has put into theirs". That's exactly my point how are they able to encapsulate both a dual lense camera and stereo speakers in the same phone. That's the one thing about Apple that impresses me. The android OEM have to pick and choose what to keep so finding one phone that has nearly everything is nearly impossible.

    I'm also increasingly envious of Apple chip development. They crush android with old phones on all the benchmark and real world test websites consistently ( I shudder to think how fast the A10 is on the benchmark sites). The A10 is still using the old 14nm finfet process. Plus Apple is building their own chips for their Airpods (W1), watch (SiP 2), and motion co-processor (M3). While android as a whole only has the chip monopoly of Qualcomm and its up and down snapdragon line.

    • Big deal. Are you still drooling over latest intel cpu for your laptop or PC? Why not? Because faster cpus stopped making any difference in user experience quite a while back! Same with smart phone cpu. Even the cheapest Android phones these days sport blazing deca core cpu, more than fast enough to meet all average user's needs and deliver great user experience. Most consumers don't care what SOC is running in their smart phone. They just want great features and user experience. Android is winning on these front and that's why Android will continue to increase it's domination over Apple/ iphone. Watch for Android to hit 90% global market share soon! BTW, snapdragon has no monopoly - look at how Samsung and Huawei is using their own SOC which rival snapdragon. This is not even mentioning other great Android SOC like from Mediatek and bunch of others. Snapdragon fumbled with 810 and it has clearly cost them dearly

    • Spaldam 1 month ago Link to comment

      Not true. Both have been done in phones running Android. Just not at the sam time. That doesn't mean it can't be done.

      The single camera in the Samsung 7 series phones are still overall better than any of the dual camera setups; unless the added gimics are important to you.

  • I really don't care how fast or smooth IPhones are. Mid and high-end phones are fast enough. Give me great features, options, customization, flexibility, freedom, good settings, give me choice...give me Android. 📲

  • I'll give it to Apple, great work making the "already out there features" to work great in their platform. And of course, making it look like their're the first to have it out on the market, when their "innovation" is for their own products families and not the general consumer.
    Again, they do a great job on their products and on their marketing, but it's been a while since they've done a leap on innovation...
    I too envy the great smooth performance of the iPhone against the majority of android devices out there, even WiPho exceeded the competition briefly... so Android development still has much room for improvement, and manufactures to unify and innovate on their technology.

  • As hard as it is to admit, one major problem of Android phones is Android itself.
    Let's be clear, I use and appreciate it greatly, but it has a few drawbacks that still make the iOS a strong contender.
    For instance, power management is quite poor on Android, even if it improved with Marshmallow. Another aspect is the abundance of bloatware that affects the majority of Android phones. Fragmentation can be a strength, but also a weakness, and great Android devices exist, but again there's not a best-in-all.
    Nonetheless, Android still offers a customization that iOS users don't even dream about, and the experimentations made by some manufacturers really pave the way to Apple, which of course is quite happy to simply copy what works and possibly try to improve it.
    All-in-all, I'll stick with Android ;-)

    • I won't argue against your battery point, but how is the abundance of bloatware on Android Android's fault? OEMs add bloat on top of Android, and carriers add even more. Neither of those things are Google's doing.

    • I found power optimization on my Note 4 (Lollipop 5.1) to be great. The phone can go for a week or more easily on standby. Sure if you are heavy user, battery will drop fast, but that's also true with any phone, iphone included. At the end of the day, iphone user may boast "Look mom, my iphone dropped only 1% overnight on standby!!" While Note user may see 2% drop. Whoppee doo!! Dont' forget, Android also has ultra power saving mode (on Samsung mostly), which allow phone to last far longer than any iphone if necessary!!

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