iPhone 7 plus camera lenses

In previous years, the slight camera upgrade in the Plus model, never was a strong enough differentiator for me to upgrade the size of my iPhone. After all, 4.7 inch is the right size for me. Anything bigger and I’d need a man purse to carry it around.

Rumors leading up to the unveiling of the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus made it sound like the dual camera module on the larger device was going to be a big deal. For many, including yours truly, doubt started settling in. But after watching the event and going though Apple’s website, I’m not sure the iPhone 7 Plus dual-lens camera system is actually worth it. Explanation:

Getting things out of the way

Before I explain my reasoning here, I must say that if you’re looking for a larger iPhone, of course the iPhone 7 Plus is still better for you than the iPhone 7. Likewise, if you don’t really care about the size difference between both models and want the best possible iPhone you can get, then again, the iPhone 7 Plus is a no brainer.

Doubt arises if like me you prefer the smaller-size iPhone. I do want the best iPhone I can get, but not if it’s going to get in the way of my daily routine (ie. walking around town wearing shorts).

The differences between the two camera systems

Looking at the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus tech specs really tells all about the differences between both devices in terms of cameras.

iPhone 7

  • 12MP camera
  • ƒ/1.8 aperture
  • Digital zoom up to 5x

iPhone 7 Plus

  • 12MP wide-angle and telephoto cameras
  • Wide-angle: ƒ/1.8 aperture
  • Telephoto: ƒ/2.8 aperture
  • Optical zoom at 2x; digital zoom up to 10x

That 12MP wide-angle camera on the iPhone 7 Plus is actually the same as the one on the iPhone 7, per Apple’s website, and Phil Schiller himself who said so on stage. It’s also the same aperture.

The only hardware difference then remains in the telephoto lens, which allows for a 2x optical zoom, and up to 10x digital zoom. In contrast, the iPhone 7 can only to a digital zoom at 5x.

Coming “later this year” as a software update is the iPhone 7 Plus new Portrait mode in the Camera app, which allows you to create depth of field in your photos. It’s important to note that this depth-of-field effect, also known as bokeh, is software-based, rather than created by the camera’s optics as it is on a DSLR. Not a big deal in the end, but still worth mentioning in my opinion.

Summing up, here is all the iPhone 7 Plus can do that the iPhone 7 can’t:

  • Optical zoom at 2x (no optical zoom on iPhone 7)
  • Digital zoom at 10x (only 5x digital zoom on iPhone 7)
  • Software-generated depth of field (not available at all on iPhone 7)

Is a better zoom and depth of field worth the bigger iPhone?

And that is the main question you should ask yourself if you’re on the fence about getting the iPhone 7 Plus for its better camera system.

Is better and sharper zooming capability a big deal to you? Is the depth-of-field effect, which let me remind you will come “later this year” as a software update, worth the extra money and the extra bulk in your pocket?

Of course I would love to have those two features on my iPhone, especially the new Portrait mode and its beautiful software-enhanced depth of field. But just like Optical Image Stabilization in the iPhone 6 Plus wasn’t enough to make me get a bigger iPhone at the time, these two features won’t be either. Instead, I will be patient and hope that next year’s iPhone, or maybe the one after that will bring these features to the smaller model.

In the meanwhile, I’ll avoid zooming in on photos and will continue using this awesome app to create fake depth of field in my photos when I’m going for this effect.

What about you? What will you do?