A faster processor and dual-lens camera make it a winner, says Abhik Sen.
I have got to admit I was never a fan of big-screen phones or phablets. Thus, I wasn't very convinced when Apple came out with their Plus line of devices. Then the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge compelled me to look hard at phones as one's primary candid camera.
And, since the iPhone 7 Plus was unveiled, I was itching to give it a look -- so what if it's a phablet?
Shifting from my iPhone 5s to the 7 Plus was like trading a Fiat for a Ferrari. The 7 Plus was zippier, bigger and meaner, and a bit heavier than my 5s.
I was impressed by the shots it captured in bright sunlight with the main lens, which has an aperture of f/1.8. I compared these shots with some similar ones I had clicked with the Galaxy S7 Edge some months earlier in similar light conditions, and found them to be 'warmer.'
But the photos captured by the iPhone had more vibrant colours, and, yes, they looked vibrant on my PC monitor as well. Both the cameras on the iPhone 7 Plus sport a resolution of 12 megapixels.
Next, I tried some low-light shots with the 7 Plus, again something I had tried with the Galaxy S7 earlier. Well, objects captured by the iPhone's main camera were sharper when I didn't use a tripod.
Using the telephoto lens on the 7 Plus, with an aperture of f/2.8, at 2x in low-light conditions without a tripod resulted in some blur. And, of course, there was a lot of noise when I used the digital zoom -- which is what happens with all phone cameras.
The net result of this experiment was the unthinkable that I did the next day. On a visit to the ruins of Delhi's Hauz Khas, I picked the 7 Plus over two top-end DSLRs I had in for review. I clicked a few photos at the ruins: Some panorama shots, a few videos, one slo-mo shot and a few 'square' shots.
And it's fast, as I could click the cars zipping past our cab on the way to the ruins.
The best thing about the zoom lens is that it activates with just a tap -- no more pinching to zoom. This makes a lot of difference while shooting 4K videos (with no time limits), as there are no jerks since you can use both hands to steady the phone.
But an iPhone is much more than a camera.
Despite being a 'super phone,' it can sadly be let down by the vagaries of our networks. Still, it did have better network coverage in places where the network is pathetic on my 5s.
The 7 Plus is also the first iPhone with stereo speakers, and they don't get too muffled even if your hands are on them.
Of course, you'll need time to get used to the 'virtual' home button, with a Taptic engine that gives you feedback. And, there's this grouse about having to carry a connector along to connect to your favourite cans.
Also, the screen resolution is still stuck at full high-definition. But because of this trade-off, you get an A10 Fusion processor that gives you amazing performance in games, a zippier processor, water- and dust-resistant body, and a fabulous battery that lasts through the day.
The iPhone 7 Plus, from Rs 72,000, is meant for those who want a handset that is more than just a phone -- it is also a brilliant point-and-shoot camera for those candid shots that could find place in a photographer's arsenal.
IMAGE: Shivani Singh, the first buyer of the newly launched iPhone 7 in Mumbai on Friday, October 7, 2016. Photograph: Mitesh/PTI Photo.