iPhone 7 Plus camera review: We test the iPhone 7 Plus’ dual-lens 12-megapixel camera, boasting separate wide-angle and telephoto lenses, to see how it compares with the cameras on other recent Apple phones like the iPhone 7, 6s and 6s Plus. Here’s our full camera review for the iPhone 7 Plus, including a comparison with the iPhone 7's camera, full specs, photo samples and a look at the best camera features.
We’re already big fans of Apple’s iPhone 7 camera, a fresh new 12-megapixel snapper that captures better low light photos than the previous iPhone generation. It’s one of the best mobile shooters out there in 2017, proving stiff competition even for brilliant Android camera phones like the Galaxy S7 and Google Pixel.
Of course, there’s usually some small differences between the standard and Plus models of iPhone when it comes to the camera tech. For instance, the iPhone 6s Plus boasted optical image stabilisation, something missing from the smaller iPhone 6s.
But in the case of the iPhone 7 and the 7 Plus, there’s a much bigger difference between the cameras. Namely, the 7 Plus’ secondary lens, which delivers optical zoom functionality - a brand new feature exclusive to this Apple handset.
Here’s our full Apple iPhone 7 Plus camera review, complete with specs, samples and everything else you need to know.
iPhone 7 Plus camera review: What are the iPhone 7 Plus camera specs and how does it compare to the iPhone 7?
Unlike the iPhone 7, which has a single 12-megapixel f/1.8 aperture lens, the iPhone 7 Plus boasts two 12-megapixel lenses: an f/1.8 aperture wide-angle lens, plus an f/2.8 aperture telephoto lens.
So while the iPhone 7 maxes out at 5x digital zoom, the 7 Plus can go all the way to 10x digital zoom and even boasts a 2x optical zoom, for no loss in detail. In other words, you can get closer to your subject virtually, which is handy when shooting wildlife, architecture and so on. The 7 Plus can also shoot video with the 2x optical zoom, as well as up to 6x digital zoom; meanwhile, the iPhone 7 doesn’t support zoom in video.
The iPhone 7 Plus also boasts built-in optical image stabilisation to cut down on blur and shaky footage, backed up by virtual image stabilisation. There’s HDR support to deal with tricky contrast and a powerful Quad-tone LED flash for night shots. You get these same features in the iPhone 7’s camera too, so in this case there’s no difference.
Both of Apple’s latest iPhones can shoot up to 4K Ultra HD resolution video too, although by default they shoot Full HD footage at 30 frames-per-second.
iPhone 7 Plus camera review: Ease of use
One of our favourite aspects of any iPhone camera is how easy they are to use. This is the very definition of a point-and-shoot snapper, with no additional thought required.
The iPhone 7 Plus’ autofocus snaps into action immediately, just as it did on other models. Aim at your subject and hit the on-screen button and you’ll instantly capture the scene, with no shutter delay at all. You can keep on tapping as fast as you like to take subsequent photos, again with no delay, or hold your thumb on the screen to take dozens of burst mode snaps in just a couple of seconds. Great news if you’re trying to get a tricky action shot.
Switching between 1x and 2x optical zoom is also nice and simple, merely requiring a tap on the new on-screen icon. As you can see in the photo samples below, it makes an obvious difference when shooting from afar.
If you want to manually twiddle the camera settings, then the iPhone 7 Plus isn’t going to satisfy. You can focus on a specific area with a tap, or tweak the exposure level by sliding your finger up and down the reticule, but that’s your lot. Everything else is handled automatically by the smart camera tech.
iPhone 7 Plus camera review: Photo quality
And since the iPhone 7 Plus’ camera tech really is super smart, that’s fine by us. You’ll rarely get rubbish results, unless you’re shooting in particularly poor conditions.
Photos are packed with detail, whether they’re up-close macro shots or sweeping landscapes. The lenses handle strong lighting well, compensating to prevent horrific over or underexposure, while leaving a generally well-balanced shot. And while colours are occasionally a little washed out in combination, we found that scenes were reproduced realistically instead of artificially processed after each shot is taken.
Good news if you’ve got kids or manic pets, because the iPhone 7 Plus also copes well with rapid and spontaneous motion. As long as lighting conditions are decent, your little ones will appear nice and crisp in the final results, regardless of excited flapping and the rest.
When the lights drop, the iPhone 7 Plus copes better than previous generations of Apple mobiles. You can make out more detail when the flash isn’t in play, although results can still be a little murky compared with those from the Samsung Galaxy S7. Still, a very strong effort though. And those nightclub shots will come out well thanks to the flash, which does a solid job of lighting up your subjects without turning them into bright-faced ghouls.
Check out our iPhone 7 Plus photo samples in the gallery below.
iPhone 7 Plus camera review: Video quality
You can shoot Full HD video in 30 or 60 frames-per-second or bump right up to 4K Ultra HD resolution on the iPhone 7 Plus. And no matter which res you choose, your home movies are going to look and sound great.
Detail levels are again strong and the lenses cope well when it comes to focusing on moving subjects, as well as changes in lighting. The iPhone 7 Plus’ mic picks up audio clearly and you can change the optical zoom level at any point, with a tap of the on-screen icon.
The only pain in the arse is that you have to exit the camera app and go to the iPhone 7 Plus’ main settings to change the video resolution. It’s a fiddly, long-winded way of making changes, especially as we’re personally constantly changing between Full HD and 4K depending on what we’re shooting.
iPhone 7 Plus camera review: Bonus camera modes and features
As well as standard video, you can also shoot the usual Slow-mo and Timelapse footage with the iPhone 7 Plus. We didn’t notice any difference from normal, with the ability to adjust the slow motion portion of the slow-mo clips as before. You can also change the resolution and frame rate of the slow-mo videos in the iPhone’s main settings menu.
You can also snap Live Photos like before, which captures a second or two of live action with each photo. This is a decent feature if you’re constantly snapping your kids, as these little snippets can be quite comedic when you’re scrolling through your virtual photo album. Of course, bear in mind that they also take up more storage space.
The iPhone 7 Plus also offers a new camera feature known as Portrait mode. This funky bonus mode plays with the depth of field of a shot, blurring out the background by capturing the photo with both lenses. It’s not likely to be used too often, but the results are quite cool, comparable to those produced by the Huawei Mate 9 and P9.
iPhone 7 Plus camera review: Verdict
The iPhone 7 Plus boasts one of the best smartphone cameras available in 2017 - so far, at least. Its ease of use, dependable photo quality and solid features list make it seriously appealing, no matter how good you are at photography and what you’re planning on shooting. Only the lack of manual controls are likely to deter anyone, and even then it’ll be the clear minority of users.
You can pick up the iPhone 7 Plus from O2 right now, starting from £50 per month on contract.