Is The iPhone 7 Camera A Game-Changer For Travelers?

Even though my “job” wouldn’t exist without technology, I’m not tech savvy in the least. I like having some tech gadgets, though I’m not someone who needs the latest or greatest technology. For example. I’m perfectly happy with my MacBook Air and iPhone 6, and I don’t even really pay attention to Apple’s latest technology. So while there’s a lot of buzz when they release a new product, I usually learn the details of the new products months after they’re released.

Typically I start getting interested in new technology when my current technology stops working. I have a MacBook Air that I’ve used for thousands of hours that still works great (perhaps I should get the battery replaced sometime), and I also have an iPhone 6 that I love.

I figured I’d upgrade my iPhone the next time my phone broke or when it stopped working well, but I’m sort of intrigued by the iPhone 7, and am considering upgrading early.

I’m specifically intrigued because I’ve heard the iPhone 7 has an incredible new camera that’s just about as good as any other point-and-shoot camera on the market.

Per Apple’s iPhone 7 spec page:

  • The iPhone 7 has a 12MP camera with 5x digital zoom
  • The iPhone 7 Plus has a 12MP camera with 2x optical zoom and 10x digital zoom

iphone-7

Like I said, I’m not an especially technical person, though the point is that based on what I’ve heard there’s a huge improvement in the camera quality with the iPhone 7.

As it stands, I generally use a combination of my iPhone 6 and my Sony RX100 to take pictures while traveling, though I’m all for simplifying things as much as possible. For example, if I’m walking around a city or just going to breakfast at a hotel I’d rather leave my camera behind, and take pictures with my phone.

Similarly, I do everything I can to take pictures as subtly as possible, so my preference in general is to use a phone over a camera.

So to those of you with the iPhone 7, is it worth upgrading from the iPhone 6 solely for the camera? Does the difference between the 7 and 7 Plus warrant getting the bigger phone, for those of us who aren’t usually “Plus” fans?

You guys are always great with giving advice, and I assume I’m not the only person in this situation.

Comments

  1. Maybe if you’d spend less time pushing credit card reviews you’d know a little more about these “tech savvy” issues.

  2. I’ve taken a Sony RX100 on my last few trips alongside an iPhone 6, just like you do. I also upgraded to the iPhone 7 the day it came out.

    To me, the camera has not been a game-changing feature at all. The iPhone 6 already had a fantastic camera, and the 7 only adds (slightly) better low-light performance and optical image stabilization, neither of which have really had much effect on my photos.

    The RX100 has never been about the sensor, but rather the lens, and while the iPhone 7 has an improved lens, it’s still a smartphone camera.

  3. Why didn’t you pick up Samsung phones. They have good cameras.

    Nokia used to have good low light cameras. Not sure of the status of Nokia now?

  4. @Judy

    You’d prob have more time for this type of thing too if you spent more time looking into it instead of working. What gave you the impression that OMAAT was a charity?

  5. I like my 7 just fine. I will say that the camera does something funny in certain conditions where I get light reflection in the picture. It usually in a setting where there are both bright light sources as well as dark shadow areas. There are usually a couple of light dots that float around. Anyone else have this?

    I think it has something to do with a software update, because 3 of my friends who have 7’s do the same thing, as does my friend’s 6 after the update. Hopefully they get around to fixing it soon. It’s pretty annoying. Other than that the phone is great.

  6. With an iPhone 6, I dont think it’s worth the upgrade to the 7/7 Plus just for the camera. It’s not going to be as great a different in image quality than if you were upgrading from an iPhone 4 or something. I’d stick to your current combo if the 6 and the RX and maybe upgrade the phone in September 2017 (or even 2018). Instead, I’d recommend that you replace the MacBook Air with the new MacBook Pro

  7. I have the iPhone 7 Plus and use it as my sole camera when traveling. I love the portrait mode where the object is in focus and the background is blurred. But I’m also a gadget geek.

  8. I have the RX100 so it’s hard to be objective. Under the Apple upgrade program, I get a new phone every year and so far I don’t notice the difference in quality between my 6s and the 7. I haven’t taken it on the road yet but my local shots seem pretty good but not noticeably better than the older phone.

  9. If you can live with the fact that the new iPhone doesn’t have a headphone jack (you have to use the included adaptor to plug in headphones) then yeah the camera has improved quite a bit and I think that especially for you as a blogger the extra image quality should be worth it. If you use Zoom a lot I would definitely suggest the plus, otherwise the cameras are identical. The bigger size coming from the 6 will take some getting used to though.

  10. @Lucky – I was never a Plus fan, but since I now have two kids, I upgraded from the 6 (regular size) to the 7 Plus because of the dual camera and the early reviews (and potential) of Portrait mode. I must say, I get a ton of wows when I show Portrait mode photos of my kids to friends. If you take a lot of photos with a DSLR, you might notice areas around the edges of your subject where the digital bokeh effect kicks in on the 7 Plus — but generally, I think it takes some of the most beautiful photos out there.

    I also got used to the larger size very quickly. The regular 7 feels so tiny now.

    @Judy – ????

  11. I use Manual, an iPhone app that allows for greater customization for shooting including aperture and ISO. Highly recommend because you can shoot in RAW and makes post-production work super easy!

  12. I got the iPhone 7 on the day that it released, but I can honestly say that since the iPhone 6s, my iPhone camera has almost completely replaced my DSLR while traveling. The iPhone 6 camera also is pretty great, but they have also come a long way since then, with optical image stabilization, 4k video, RAW photo support, and better low light performance. On the other hand, the 7 is more of a second refresh to the 6 model, and Apple is widely suspected of having a major groundbreaking overhaul coming next year, so you may want to wait for that if you are fine with the 6 for now.

    I wouldn’t suggest Samsung/Nokia/etc. simply because I think you would have a MUCH easier time with iOS then you ever will with Android. It also seems that you are invested in the Apple ecosystem, and I have found that the MacBook line + iPad + iPhone + Watch (optional, but great for travel) is extremely tough to beat.

  13. I’ve always been of the opinion that you should skip at least one generation before upgrading an iPhone. I’d definitely wait the two years until you can get the subsidy…

    Your Sony is a good option and *much* more flexible than a smartphone camera could every be.

  14. Going from an iPhone 6 to an iPhone 7 won’t be a game changer (noticeable but not out of this world), but going to the 7 Plus would be huge. I’m amazed at how much better it’s been than my 6s Plus, let alone the 6.

    It’s still a phone camera though. It won’t replace your RX100 but it’ll greatly improve the quality of the shots you take with your iPhone 6 right now.

  15. I have the iPhone 7 Plus. Fantastic all around. That is the only camera I carry with me. My wife has the iPhone 6 and it looks way too small for me.

  16. Wait until the new iPhone comes out next year – it’s supposed to be leaps and bounds better than the current phone on the market.

    That said, it appears that we’ve run out of content to write about or credit cards to pump judging from the content of this post. This is the type of post I would expect on the other garbage BA blogs, not on OMAAT.

  17. Ben, don’t listen to the haters! I don’t know how you consistently produce so much relevant content on this blog, so it’s cool if occasionally a post isn’t strictly travel related. Asking readers for advice is a great way to keep people engaged. I feel like I follow your life on an almost creepy level, so it’s nice to make it a two-way street.

    Personally, I have an iPhone 6 and my friend just got the iPhone 7. Yes, his pictures are better, and it’s faster with a longer battery, but it’s not a game changer. The pictures from your RX100 have excellent tonal range, depth effect, and low-light quality, and I don’t think the iPhone 7 would replace that. Just yesterday I was looking at Tiffany’s pictures of the Belgrade food tour and was impressed with the image quality from her (your?) Sony RX100M4. There is something to be said for convenience, but high quality pictures are a key part of the blog. For now I say stick with what works unless you have a cheap 2-year upgrade ready to go. Either way, you should definitely go try it out in person and think about your specific needs before making a decision.

  18. The camera is better. Had the iPhone 6 and got the new iPhone 7 when it was released and the camera is much better and better battery as well.

  19. For someone who travels as often as you, Im really surprised you havent looked into DSLRs. Phone cameras and point and shoots have too many limitations. You could do some amazing things with a little learning and more camera control.

  20. The only game changer cell phone camera for me has been the LG G5 (and v20). They both have a regular and widescreen camera on the back. The phones themselves are okay. One of my biggest issues was capturing the atmosphere of a place. I would take a picture but it didn’t quite capture it. The widescreen has come in handy so much that if my next cellphone doesn’t have one I will likely buy a second camera for it. The phones also have some great manual settings which let me capture the milky way while visiting the Grand Canyon.

    Otherwise at this point most main stream cell cameras are all good and similar enough that it really doesn’t matter too much.

  21. If you want a phone for the camera, the Google Pixel is generally regarded to have the best one. It also helps that it’s a very good phone otherwise too.

  22. As a current owner of both a 7 Plus and RX100, despite the improvements for the iPhone it’s still no match for the RX100 (especially in low light).

    If you put video on posts, then upgrading might be worth considering. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter.

  23. I travel as much as I can internationally for pleasure. I have always had 3 cameras with me. The iPhone 5, and 2 point and shoots. (I seem to break them a lot.) I do a lot of photo editing of the camera photos to make them look good. I now have the 7 Plus, and used it extensively on a recent trip to the Outer Banks of NC. To me it really IS a game changer. No more extra cameras for me. I took comparison photos, and liked the 7 better, and they didn’t really need any editing at all to make them look fabulous!

  24. I upgraded to the iPhone 7 from a 6 and there’s a massive difference in the camera. Not only does it have better lighting, which could help in night scenes, but it has much better quality. It wouldn’t do any miracles to your photos (though they’re already great 🙂 ) but there would be a noticeable difference.

  25. Just came back from a trip to Japan carrying both iPhone 7 Plus (coming from a 6) and RX100 M4 with no expectation the iPhone can ever match the picture quality of RX100 but at the end of the trip about 25% of my pictures were taken with the iPhone (usually only about 5%). For low-light photos the RX100 wins hands down, lets get that out of the way. However in many cases I found myself happy enough to just take the iPhone with me, leaving the RX100 in the car, or when there’s a risk I’ll miss the ‘moment’ it’s faster to use the iPhone. No way I’d say these at the beginning of the trip.

    Is it worth getting the Plus model? For better photos, a big yes. The zoom and better stabilisation gives better results. The bigger size may be against you taking pictures subtly though, just sayin.

    Is it a game-changer? No, I will still take my RX100 on a trip but I’m more willing to leave the camera behind in some circumstances

  26. I just recently switched from the 6 Plus to the 7 Plus and do notice the distance, especially in low light settings. You can shoot some solid web quality pictures with the 7 Plus, and would be able to forego the other camera.

  27. I’m not a “Plus Guy” either but I bought the 7+ specifically for the camera(s) and yes, it is significantly better than the previous version. My other camera is a Leica Q so take that for what it’s worth.

  28. Not a comment on the iPhone 7 etc but just a quick note to encourage you to keep doing what you’re doing and to ignore the pointless negative comments from people like @Judy that occasionally get posted by people who obviously have nothing better to do with their time.

  29. There are better cell phone cameras like Samsung S7s and Google pixel and galaxy note as long as it doesn’t explode. But to me they are all essentially point and shoot caliber cameras. Go mirror less cameras. Those are actual game changers but still not incredibly so. I compare my images on my dslrs and cellphones and there is no comparison. The cellphone images are just ok in many many ways but as point and shoot they have come a long way.

  30. This camera is not a game changer. The Galaxy S7 is generally regarded to take more eye pleasing images, even if they’re not the most accurate. Even iMore, an Apple blog, readers agreed so.

  31. @Judy..If u don’t have something nice to say,Keep your mouth shut.Lucky has always been helpful .Dont read his blog if u don’t like.Good riddance.
    Lucky,I had IPhone 6 and got iPhone 7plus,I m very happy with the pics .I took pics of fall foliage in NY and when I was in Abu Dhabi 3 weeks ago,went to Shekh Zayad Mosque.The pics came out to be awesome .

  32. @ Judy.

    See ya. Don’t let the door hit your fat arse on the way out. No one is forcing you to read these blogs.

  33. The IQ of a Sony RX100IV and an iPhone 7+ can’t even be compared. They are leagues apart. And that’s for stills, for video the RX100 blows the iPhone out of the water and then takes a dump on it.

    If you just want snapshots to be shown on Instagram, go withthe iPhone. If you have any understanding of photography, go with the Sony. Especially for editorial work, the difference is huge. Loads or commentators above know nothing of physical limitations of cameras; the iPhone is too small to compete.

  34. I wonder when apple will get on board with 2 sim ability? I tried the Sony Experia for a few months, great camera and it had 2 sim ability but it was finicky and it ended up doing strange things I wasn’t use to so I went back to apple. I have a 6plus and never had a problem till this morning when my alarm didn’t go off and I almost missed my flight….. but that was a first! I just wish I could have 2 or more sims!

  35. I upgrade from an iPhone6 to an iPhone7 Plus and for the first few days I found it a bit big in my hand, but now I find it extremely comfortable and an using my iPad much less, mainly due to the bigger screen size on the phone but also the speed. I find the 7 is significantly faster and the photo quality is quite a bit of an upgrade, with people remarking on the quality of the images I’ve sent them. The battery also lasts significantly longer. Overall, I am delighted with the iPhone7+.

  36. Just purchased the iPhone 7Plus before our recent to London, Italy and Ireland. There are some things about the new camera that will blow you away. Such as portrait mode. It is incredible! TO be able to blur the background is fun and beautiful and it seems to have a magic filter that smooths flesh tones and naturally enhances color. Really incredible.
    The camera still is limited in low light situations but overall I’m glad I made the investment.

  37. I’m a photographer with a full frame Canon SLR and a APS-C Fujifilm mirrorless camera. I just got a IPhone 7 plus and I will say it is a game changer. Using its two lenses to measure distance and a very well written algorithm to create the SLR-like depth effect in the “portrait mode”, 7 plus takes the phone camera to a new level. Check out #deptheffect to see what people have taken using this mode. You may use this mode for non-portrait photography too. I just posted one of my pictures on instagram: https://instagram.com/p/BM17S-nB7DU/

  38. I went from the s6+ to the 7+ and the camera is great, but it was also great on the 6s+.

    Having the separate lens for telephoto is nice, but I think it’s a little gimmicky also. It does work nice and I’ve taken a lot of shots at 2x which is as far as you can go with the optical only zoom. After 2x, it’s digital zoom, and all that does is crop the image, thus reducing the effective resolution. That’s true for any camera with digital zoom.

    What makes it nice is that the switching between the normal/wide lens and the telephoto lens is seamless, and it really is. It also shoots great video, but so did the 6s+

    So to answer your question, is it worth upgrading for? I think that has to be your call. I don’t carry a digital camera around with me so my phone is my normal camera and the camera upgrade was really the main feature I wanted. Still, for me, it was an expensive upgrade, but I was able to sell my 6s+ for a decent price which helps with the upgrade cost.

    -David

  39. I just got the Google Pixel phone and my partner has the iPhone 7+. We have done a lot of side by side comparisons and the camera on my Pixel is much better than his 7+. If you don’t believe me go to a Verizon store and test for yourself. Ver, very impressed with the new Pixel.

  40. I upgraded from the 6S to iPhone 7 Plus primarily for the camera, and…meh. Not a game changer except for Portrait Mode (which is still in beta and has its issues). Best thing is the larger and more vibrant screen. Can’t say the quality of the photos is significantly better as the lens is still tiny. I had a Nokia over ten years ago with a larger and better (Zeiss) lens. Two small lenses still don’t equal one good one.

  41. “I’m specifically intrigued because I’ve heard the iPhone 7 has an incredible new camera that’s just about as good as any other point-and-shoot camera on the market.”

    My point and shoot has 25x optical zoom and 100x digital zoom.

    Not so sure about what you said, babe.

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