For the first iPhone release in many years, the iPhone 7 was never going to be a phone I would buy and the reasons are numerous.
By some distance the main reason is the size of the device because the iPhone SE has become such a natural fit for me that the thought of using a larger device again would feel uncomfortable and impractical. At no point when owning the iPhone 6 and 6S, and for a brief period the 6 Plus, did they feel right. I didn’t realise it at the time, but the iPhone was heading in a direction that was not quite where I wanted to go.
Being able to drop the phone in my pocket and use it one-handed without thinking is a huge bonus in terms of ease of use. It takes the device further back to invisibility and the goal of letting you get something done without the need to fiddle. That alone makes the SE stand out for my needs and even the lower maximum storage of 64GB has not caused a problem yet.
The other reason is the design of the iPhone 7, and 6s etc. I just don’t like the curved edges, the slippery form and the lack of personality. That may sound like some of the other negative commentary this design receives, but it is true to me. There is very little that visually appeals and nothing that stands out at all, whereas the SE does have some design chops and the remarkable ability to be held without feeling that it will fall out of your hands at any moment.
There is a third reason which is centered on what the iPhone 7 actually offers. It goes back to the way Apple makes iPhones and the fact that older models tend to be perfectly usable for a long time. The iPhone 6 compares well in terms of processing power to many modern Android phones, the camera is more than good enough for my needs and the screen is great, and the SE is technically using the same components as the later 6s.
For 99% of people, a 2 yearly upgrade makes sense at a minimum and I seem to have fallen into that group of people. To gain a sense of real progress and to get back some genuine excitement, it feels logical to upgrade only when my current device is struggling. Buying an iPhone 7 to replace a 6s won’t give you many real world benefits apart from a better camera (possibly), more processing power than you actually need and a screen that solves a problem that did not exist in the 6s.
This is obviously a personal choice and I realise that many of you like to upgrade each year. The more I think about it, however, the more I want Apple to make a new SE sized device to even tempt me to spend some more money. And I wonder how many others feel the same way.
Having said all of that, I do appreciate what Apple is doing with the iPhone. It is instantly recognisable as an iPhone and for many many people it remains the default choice as their next phone. This is sometimes sneered at as consumers knowing no different, but the reality is that it does work as a mobile device and it works extremely well.
It is accessible, reliable and does everything most people need. The lack of a headphone jack may be felt more by normal consumers than geeks, but time will heal those problems and the iPhone will likely continue to be the biggest selling single phone on the planet.
I am looking forward to what comes in 2017, but would love to see a smaller device offered with all of the latest innovations.