The iPhone 7 is still good in 2021
Touch ID is still great, and the Galaxy S21 ain't cutting it
I used to own an iPhone 7, then an iPhone XS, and an iPhone 11 Pro. But ever since the whole 'rona thing started, I started to realize that my tech gadgets were more distracting than they should be. I fell in love with my tech over the years, and started accumulating what would be a massive collection of devices in the Apple ecosystem, including the Apple Watch, Apple TV, and iPad Pro.
But I didn't want to fall in love with my tech. I just wanted them to work for me. Being 'married' to my iPhone, my Mac, my Apple Watch... that wasn't for me.
So early this year, I switched to the Galaxy S21 5G. It wasn't an exactly pleasant experience, with me having to spend days moving my content manually between services. I thought that would make me lose focus in my tech and focus more on what mattered, but that just made me obsess over my tech more. Android simply had too many customizations, but not a single one worked perfectly. Almost every setting had a compromise, be it battery life, the disabling of other features, or performance drawbacks.
So I bought an iPhone 7.
It's a Hong Kong Jet Black model, and the previous owner had taken really good care of it. It has only 32GB of RAM, but I didn't mind, I wanted to get away from the Internet and its cancerous hold on us, even if just a little. Having only a little bit of storage would surely help.
The return of Touch ID
The best part about the iPhone 7? Touch ID. Face ID was absolutely magical when it works, but when there is a pandemic going on outside, it simply fades out of existence. Entering my passcode every single time I wanted to make a payment was tiring. The iPhone 7 with Touch ID made it so much easier.
Now, the Galaxy S21 also has a fingerprint sensor, but it was accurate only about 25% of the time. The 75% of the time, I had to try another finger, or reposition my finger, or use another portion of my finger. It was a painful experience, especially when I am at the front of the queue and there are 10 other people behind me.
Touch ID, great. Face ID, love it as well, just not at this time.
I honestly couldn't be bothered about the type of screen my device had. As long as it lets me read my manga with ease, and isn't the size of a 2001 Nokia feature phone, I'm cool. The iPhone 7 still has a really beautiful screen, despite it being 5 years old.
Battery life... meh
The iPhone 7 I bought came with a really old battery. I'm talking 60% battery health. A replacement costed only about $75, so I was fine with it. The battery replacement guaranteed the device another 1-2 years of life until Apple decides to stop releasing iOS updates for it. That's 6-7 years of support. Unparalleled by Apple's competitors.
The battery life on the iPhone 7 is still mediocre at best, but I largely attribute it to the poor quality of some apps, especially those that use massive frameworks that load every time the apps load, consuming large amounts of memory and forcing iOS to work harder than it should. While iOS gets better, apps are also getting more and more bloated. That is an unfortunate trend that is happening both on mobile and on desktop apps.
The iPhone 7 is also really poor at handling battery life when streaming music. When I’m streaming from LINE MUSIC or YouTube Music, the battery drains really quickly.
What was really shocking was that despite having a battery almost 4 times smaller than that of the Galaxy S21, the iPhone 7 still managed to pull in a solid 3-4 hours of battery life, while the Galaxy S21 shipped with just 2, and 3-4 hours only after updating the software, turning off many system features, and cranking up its battery saving features. This was really disappointing, coming from a flagship. I also removed most of my apps after moving them to the iPhone 7, which greatly improved the battery life on the Galaxy S21. Android clearly has a really hard time managing its apps.
The iPhone 7 was a little slow at first. The system froze at times, and animations sometimes were a little janky. But after a while, it stabilized, and everything ran just fine. I theorized that the performance issues were due to my country's contact tracing app, T__ceT__ether, which used a hacked up solution to keep it running in the background, which meant that the app would use CPU and Bluetooth as and when it felt like it. However, I have not researched the issue deep enough to prove my theory, so I'm going to leave it at that.
Returning to iOS felt smooth as ever, and animations were fluid throughout. This is in stark contrast to, of course, the Galaxy S21, which had janky and inconsistent animations throughout the system, and also performed inconsistently.
And because browsers on iOS used the same optimized WebKit rendering engine from Safari, it didn't face the same performance issues I had on Android when browsing the web. Because of that, on the Galaxy S21, no browser really performed well enough, which was why I changed browsers almost once every week. Safari just works on iOS, and is also optimized for performance and battery life, even on the 5 year old iPhone 7!
Given the mediocre battery life from the iPhone 7, I didn't bother moving my games over. My games stay on the Galaxy S21, effectively turning the Galaxy S21 into a really expensive game console that has slightly worse performance.
Though I suppose certain games would perform way better on the iPhone.
The iPhone 7 is surprisingly still a good device, even 5 years after its initial launch. For really light users, it might make a really good phone too. Apple has also really kept up with its promise of long term support and longevity of its devices by not only providing free software updates, but also support options (who'd think that they'd still manufacture iPhone 7 batteries?). The fact that this 5 year old device is not only still being updated, but also performs decently, supports the newest apps and features, and connects to the latest peripherals was a pleasant surprise. I don't regret my decision, but I'm keeping my Galaxy S21 as a gaming device because of the battery life on the iPhone 7. Until the iPhone 12s/13, I'll be holding onto this iPhone 7.