Most iPhone reviews are fairly predictable, because what’s not to like about a new iPhone? There will always be features people wished Apple had added that it didn’t, of course, but the new iPhone is always significantly better than the model it replaced. For the first time, that isn’t exclusively true.

The main issue, of course, is the one everyone’s been talking about for months: the loss of the headphone socket. Apple may have planned to leak that change a long way in advance; it may have made a good case for the change; and it may have done its best to make the transition as painless as possible by tackling both the pairing and battery-life barriers to wireless headphones through the new W1 chip in AirPods and Beats headphones – but it does remain a downside of the new phones, and one which reviewers discuss.

But it’s not the only complaint reviewers have about the iPhone 7, with two other issues raised by many …

First, the vulnerability of that new Jet Black finish to scratches. Everyone who mentioned it said that, yep, after even a few days of careful use, there are multiple scratches – or what Apple calls ‘micro abrasions.’ Everyone also loves the look of the finish, so it’s really going to come down to how much you want it and how able you are to live with the fact that it’s going to get scratched. And if you want to see how bad it can be, check out the photo at the bottom.

Second, the performance of the haptic feedback on the new touch-sensitive Home button. We heard many reports from the hands-on area at the event that – unlike Force Touch on the MacBooks and Magic Trackpad – it simply doesn’t realistically simulate a click. Almost everyone reports that the entire bottom of the phone vibrates.

ArsTechnica was disappointed with the design but has a long list of positives and only a few negatives. However, it does see the loss of the headphone socket as a ‘major catch.’

Anyone using an iPhone 6 or older should at least consider upgrading—maybe you’re still on a 2-year carrier contract, or maybe your current phone is just showing signs of wear-and-tear and your battery isn’t holding the charge it once did. For your money, you’ll get water resistance, a much faster phone with two or three times the RAM and better battery life, a significantly improved camera, and a few other perks […]

I still have my quibbles with the iPhone 6-era design and it’s too bad that we’re going to be trucking along with it for another year, but the iPhone 6 was also Apple’s most popular phone by far so clearly actual people aren’t all that bothered by it […]

The missing headphone jack is a fly in the iPhone 7’s ointment. Plenty of people will be happy to scoop out the fly and use the rest of the probably-fine ointment. It’s good ointment! There’s just a fly in it. And the transition from wired to wireless is going to be more painful now than it will be a year or two down the line when more accessories and devices have adapted to follow Apple’s lead. Waterproofing and better battery life have been common iPhone feature requests for years and the camera and speed improvements are nothing to sneeze at, but you’ll need to buy into Apple’s vision of the future if you want to get them.

Business Insider thinks the loss of the headphone socket is ‘a minor nuisance’ and the design is a disappointment. While it describes the iPhone 7 is the best phone on the market, it says there’s not enough reason to upgrade from the 6s.

You can’t really judge the controversial move until you live with it for a few days. I’ve been using the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus since Apple unveiled it last week. I survived. In fact, I think the missing headphone jack is such a minor nuisance that I barely noticed […]

Apple used to pride itself on pushing design standards forward, with the rest of the industry attempting to copy or catch up. Apple’s rivals have perfected their designs, but its response was to release the same look for the third year in a row.

I know it might sound superficial to focus on design so much, but it’s something users take seriously, especially on a device they carry around and use all the time. It’s hard get excited about something new when it looks very similar to what you’ve seen before […]

The iPhone 7 [is] the best phone you can buy. I don’t recommend upgrading if you have an iPhone 6s, but there are enough improvements here to make it a worthwhile upgrade for just about everyone else.

BuzzFeed says that Jet Black is pointless due to the scratches and fingerprints ruining the look, but that the matte black is lovely. The improvements Apple has made to the everyday usability of the device do, it thinks, add up to a ‘killer feature.’

What is even the point of jet black? It’s a fingerprint magnet and scratches so easily, even Apple thinks you need a case [but otherwise] the 7 and 7 Plus are more life-proof, klutz-proof than any iPhone we’ve seen — and that’s a Big Deal for people who use the iPhone as their primary camera, messaging device, e-reader, etc. day in and day out.

The new home button is no longer mechanical, which makes it virtually impossible to break (watch me try, though). The iPhone now plays nice with water. And the new, seemingly more secure EarPods’ lightning connection might be able to save more phones from tumbling out of one’s hands and onto the hard ground below […]

The truth is the killer feature — being able to check your emails in the shower, for goodness’ sake — is completely hidden from plain sight. In fact, many of the iPhone’s innovations are all in the details, which, one might say, is very Apple indeed.

Daring Fireball predicts that the scratch-prone Jet Black finish will turn into a ‘scuffgate’ but that it’s still Gruber’s favorite finish. He devotes quite a lot of space to talking about the Home button issue.

After just five days — more than half of which I’ve spent using the matte black iPhone 7 Plus — this jet black iPhone 7 has a few “micro abrasions”, to use Apple’s own term. I can only see them when I’m looking for them, and only when I reflect light off the surface at the perfect angle, but they’re there. This is after two days of careful use, and never putting it in a pocket that contains anything else. The back surface of this phone shows more wear after (effectively) two days of use than my space gray 6S does after nearly a year […]

I think that even with Apple’s warning, it’s going to erupt into a “scuffgate” once these jet black iPhones hit the market. I wouldn’t be surprised if the news stories and pundit hot takes about jet black iPhone scratches and scuffs outnumber those about the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 literally exploding and hurting people […]

Alas, [the Home button is] nothing at all like the new Force Touch trackpads, which use haptic feedback to simulate an artificial click. With the trackpads, the feedback feels like an actual clicking trackpad […] This new home button is the one and only thing about the iPhone 7 that I don’t like. Why would Apple do this? It does remove one more potential point of ingress, improving water resistance. But the power and volume buttons are still actual buttons, and the iPhone 7 is IP67 water resistant. To me, it feels worse, not better.

Engadget sees Apple as playing it safe with this update, but the result still makes the iPhone 7 a ‘serious contender’ for the title of best smartphone.

The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are at once the most technically impressive smartphones Apple has ever made and the most divisive. After all, they’re excellent because of Apple’s renewed attention to the basics: the speed, the camera, the screen, the battery. None of these improvements on their own are terribly exciting, but together they make for a pair of phones that are more than the sum of their parts. Then again, where’s the envelope-pushing? Where’s the Apple that upended an industry? It’s surely still there, locked behind closed doors that won’t be opened again for another year. In the meantime, we’re left to consider this year’s work.

If you can get over the all-too-familiar design and the no-headphone-jack thing, then the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are serious contenders for best smartphones, period. Note that I used the word “best,” not “most innovative” — neither of these devices is groundbreaking. We’ve seen many of these features (or features like them) pop up in rival phones already. That headphone jack thing aside, most of the choices made in the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus feel like safe ones. There’s nothing wrong with that, but no matter how good the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are (answer: very, very good), Apple already has us all wondering what next year’s iPhone is going to be like.

The Loop‘s Jim Dalrymple loves the Jet Black, isn’t bothered about the scratches, found the camera ‘remarkable,’ had some issues with the Home button and is very happy with AirPods as a trade-off for the loss of the headphone socket.

I fell in love with the black finish and haven’t looked back […] I don’t care about nicks and scratches on the casing as much as I do if the screen scratched. So far it’s looking really good […]

I thought the camera was remarkable in both iPhone 7 models […]

I did invoke Siri quite a bit in the first day or so using it. I’m not quite sure what it is, but I seemed to keep my thumb pressed on the button for some reason. It wasn’t a big deal, I just needed to lift the pressure off the button for a second and everything was fine […]

As we all know, Apple did away for the old headphone jack. Honestly, I don’t see a problem with it—get rid of it and focus on giving us some more modern technologies in the iPhone 7 and future versions.

Mashable says that the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus neither astonish nor frustrate, that the loss of the headphone socket is no big deal, that the Jet Black finish does scratch easily but that the other changes are worthwhile.

Apple’s new models are definitely worthwhile upgrades, especially since both the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus now start at 32GB for the same price as the previous model […]

Am I bothered by the lack of a 3.5 mm jack? No. the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus both ship with Lightning EarPods and a dongle for no extra charge. I have no complaints […]

As the Apple fine print warns, it is susceptible to micro-abrasions, dozens of which I can see on the iPhone 7 now, if I look closely […]

The good: beautiful, yet familiar, design; responsive new home button; excellent camera; performance and power to spare; great battery life; water resistant. The bad: expensive; Jet Black finish prone to scratches; no 3.5mm headphone jack.

Re/code has Walt Mossberg impressed with the iterative changes and dual cameras of the 7 Plus, but annoyed by the loss of the headphone socket and impatient for a completely new design.

The most important thing about the 2016 iteration of the iPhone is that, overall, it takes a truly excellent smartphone and makes it significantly better in a host of ways […]

With just the tap of a button labeled “2X”, I was able to get vivid, detailed shots at true 2X optical zoom, not the grainy digital zoom smartphone users have been wise to avoid forever. For me, and I suspect many other average folks, real zooming is a huge deal, bigger than some of the more esoteric effects photo hobbyists might value. In fact, this beautiful zooming dual camera is the first feature I’ve seen that might lure me to a large-screen phone […]

I’m sure the wireless earbud and headphone revolution is upon us now and that, in a few years, the battery life will double or triple. For now, though, this Apple change of a standard component adds a hassle to your phone use, whether you are wired or wireless. It’s an annoyance and a negative […]

I am impatient for Apple to do a top-to-bottom redesign of the iPhone, and the iPhone 7 isn’t it. Apple concedes this and strongly suggests a dramatic redesign won’t appear until next year, the iPhone’s 10th anniversary. Let me stress: I am not for a redesign just for the hell of it. There are good reasons to change the look and feel of the iPhone: [they] still have big footprints for their screen sizes and big top and bottom bezels […]

Despite the undisputed improvements, this new iPhone just isn’t as compelling an upgrade as many of its predecessors. Some might want to wait a year for the next really big thing — and maybe a better audio solution to boot.

TechCrunch sees the design changes as small but not insignificant, again cites the scratching issue but thinks the new taptic Home button is fine and the indistinct click feel actually makes sense in readiness for next year’s phone.

The antenna bands are nearly invisible on both black colors now and are much more seamless on all models, which is very welcome. The camera bumps are now very much considered a part of the design as they’re molded out of the body material itself, swelling out of the back like a muscle. The bands of last year and the year before have always felt a bit timid and apologetic. Apple has now figured this little trick out, making the bump feel much more purposeful and organic […]

My iPhone 7 review unit definitely shows fine scratches and abrasions after a week or so of sliding it in and out of my pocket with various other items like the AirPod case and my wallet and setting it down on surfaces […] If you plan on running it “naked,” be prepared to take a polishing cloth to it or learn to live with the fact that, just like a car with black shiny paint, it’s going to get the whorls and scratches of any high-gloss surface […]

The button does not feel like the new Macbook’s trackpad — which does not move at all — in that it doesn’t actually feel like you’re clicking the home button itself any more. I’d guess this is due to the size of the home button (relatively small versus a trackpad) and the orientation of the Taptic Engine. Instead, it feels like you’re clicking the whole bottom one-fourth of the screen itself. This is not disorienting at all and actually feels pretty dang natural.

I feel, personally, that Apple is happy with the way this works and is in fact preparing users for when the home button disappears entirely from the front face of the iPhone. Users will just “click” the bottom of the screen to take those actions. If, as rumored, next year’s iPhone is a solid sheet of front glass with no button, this makes a ton of sense.

The Verge thinks the improvements Apple has made are notable, but the loss of the headphone socket is a real drawback, the Jet Black finish isn’t practical and there’s just not enough reason to buy yet.

Do all of the new features of the iPhone 7 make up for the inconvenience of the missing headphone jack? This may or may not surprise you, but I don’t think so — not yet […]

My jet black review unit scratched and scuffed almost instantly, and the only time it’s remained fingerprint-free is when we literally handled it with white gloves for the photo and video shoots accompanying this review […]

The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are legitimately among the most interesting, opinionated, powerful phones Apple has ever shipped, and the most confident expressions of the company’s vision in a long time. iOS 10 is excellent, the cameras are better, and the performance is phenomenal. And the batteries last longer. These are terrific phones […]

But unless you’re eager and ready to live the early adopter life, you won’t actually be missing out on much if you don’t get an iPhone 7. This is an iPhone that lays a marker in tech history, and it will serve as the foundation for many important changes to how phones work and integrate into our lives. We’re going to remember the iPhone 7. It’s going to be the next iPhones that actually build a useful future on that foundation.

We’ll of course be bringing you our own reviews next week (though not me – I’m still really happy with my SE). In the meantime, if you’re still wavering over those Jet Black scratches, this photo may help you make up your mind …


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About the Author

Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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