Consumer Reports: iPhone 7 camera does not outperform iPhone 6s

Apple is advertising major improvements in the cameras on the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, and the second telephoto camera on the 7 Plus is new for Apple. However, Consumer Reports initial testing shows the performance for the main cameras are about the same.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer
Image: Apple

Apple's new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus have been well received by reviewers and offer many enhancements and improvements over the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. The iPhone 7 Plus has a second rear camera, which is new for Apple, and it offers 2x optical zoom so you can capture subjects found further away.

The new iPhone is just now getting into the hands of consumers, and Consumer Reports posted initial findings on the camera performance, stating, "So far, we've found no major leap in camera performance from the iPhone 6s models."

The smaller iPhone 7 does see the addition of optical image stabilization (OIS) compared to the iPhone 6s, so that should result in clearer photos for many people. It also has an improved aperture of f/1.8 compared to the previous f/2.2, which should provide better low-light performance. Consumer Reports stated that low-light performance is about the same.

The Apple iPhone 7 Plus adds a second rear camera that provides 2x telephoto zoom capability. It's obviously better than the iPhone 6s Plus since that phone did not have the second camera.

Consumer Reports provided the following findings:

  • The 1x still cameras (equivalent to a 28mm lens) on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus produced admirable image quality, but did not outperform the cameras on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus.
  • The 7 Plus's 2x still camera (with the equivalent of a 56mm lens) did produce sharper images than the 1x lenses on the iPhone 6s phones and both iPhone 7 phones.
  • We also tested the phone cameras in a controlled low-light scenario that's equivalent to what you might experience in a dim restaurant. In this situation, the new phones seemed to perform no better than the iPhone 6s for still photos.
  • Apple highlighted the Quad-LED True Tone flash in its press event. However, in our test it was not superior to the flash on the earlier models.
  • In the limited testing we've done so far, the front-facing selfie camera on the 7 Plus was sharper than the one on the iPhone 7. We'll look into this further, since Apple has not indicated that the selfie cameras on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are different.

My iPhone 7 Plus should arrive this week, and I will then be able to test the camera out myself. I also plan to test and compare the iPhone 7 Plus dual-camera setup against the Honor 8, LG V20, and LG G5 dual cameras.

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