Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Beginning again with iPhone 7

Just a day later, Sprint sent me a Gold iPhone 7.  Considering how many people are waiting for Jet Black, I feel as though I've jumped in line ahead of them.

This was an easy choice.  My iPhone 6 is nearly two years old.  It has been good enough for a long time, but I've noticed trouble charging it.  Thinking back, I stopped using a cable because it didn't seem to charge the phone well.  Maybe, it has always been a slight issue.

In any case, the extra power and extra battery life will help.  I tried one running Asphalt 8, which I play, and it was smoother.  It could have been the demo version, but I suspect it would have been a bit erratic on any iPhone 6 also.

Set up is a bit dodgy, considering that I'm doing everything myself, including the activation from home.  Sprint's instructions are not incredibly clear--but they know what they meant.  It's similar to their vanity Speedtest.net pages where they don't know the difference (8 times) between MB and Mb.  I sometimes wonder if their performance in some areas should be rated in the impossible mb.

I connected the new phone to the computer and let iTunes restore the data and settings from the old phone.  After that, I clicked to activate on Sprint's web site.

Now, the phone is resolving all of the new apps and data.  It's taking quite a while because I have so much.  Going from 64GB to 128GB will give me breathing room.  I had around 8GB free in general.

It shows iOS 10.0.2 is ready to be installed, and before the phone was even ready to be used, a new set of carrier settings was placed on the phone.  I suspect that there may be a few.  T-Mobile and Verizon both needed updates.  Hopefully, 10.1 will provide a lot of bug fixes in the near future.

The Home button works much, much, much better than the demo units I've tried.  It reminds me of the MacBook Pro trackpads.

The phone itself seems very close to the iPhone 6, so it will probably be okay in my current Ballistic case until my iPhone 7 cases arrive on Friday.  The company had a good deal and I bought one black and one black/white case at US$19.99 each, instead of the US$34.99 that I paid for the other Ballistic case two years ago.  Considering the price of a repair when dropping one of these US$749 phones, the price of a heavy duty case isn't much.

I will likely get a glass screen protector, as the last one has been good.  It is only cracked a little around one edge and definitely seems worth US$29.99.  With more competition, perhaps ZAGG has dropped their price or increased its ability to be smudge resistant.

I'm not always enamored of Apple but their phones have been just short of great, for me.  Their operating system quality often makes it more difficult than it should be.  It's been that way on the computers as well.  After all the fuss about downloading operating system updates without permission, they did it to me on my Mac with macOS sierra.

I'll talk about my first impressions of use shortly.

Update 2016.10.31: The phone is up to iOS 10.1.1 now.  Since 10.1, App Store can't count and the badge count is smaller than the actual update count.  At first, it was only showing non-Apple apps to be updated, but now, there doesn't seem to be a logic.  It's just an incorrect number.

I didn't get the glass screen protector.  With AppleCare + handling screen replacement at $29, and it was $129 for the warranty, I'm not so sure whether to bother.  The case is working very well.

 The phone's construction is very good and phone calls are fairly clear.  The last phone that I felt was extremely clear was a Sanyo PM-8200 flip phone that was oh, so thick.  Ten years have passed and we apparently want everything thin, thin, thin.  It's better through the ear buds.

The audio adapter works fine.  I've tried it on my now dead Sennheiser ear buds and my Beyerdynamic studio style headphones.  There is no crackling sound.

I'm not sure about the battery life.  I don't believe that it has improved.  Given that the iPhone 6 wasn't as powerful or efficient, I expected more.  The iPhone 7 is definitely more powerful and games work more smoothly but is the battery life better when the phone is idle?  It feels as though the battery is being drained more quickly than the iPhone 6.  It isn't awful and it may be corrected by firmware sometime in the future.  Perhaps, I set my expectations too high.

The display is good, better than expected, at times.  I've been using personal computers since 1981 when I first attached a black and white TV to my machine.  Displays have usually been awful, especially if they were compatible with a wide variety of machines.  Phone displays are rarely great, despite what numbers they calculate in a laboratory.  Do you live in a laboratory?  I don't.

The only displays I've seen that look truly great are those of the LG 4K OLED TVs.

Unfortunately, the software quality has a large effect on how the phone works and Apple is still trying to get this under control.  When I got the iPhone 6, I was concerned but the 64-bit processor was introduced in the iPhone 5s, and I felt safe enough to take the leap.  It seemed that they were more concerned with the size of the displays.

This time, there are a lot of little glitches and I'm sure they'll work them out eventually.

I enabled two-step authentication on my MacBook Pro with 10.12.1 and the next time I went into a game, Game Center wanted me to enter a code.  I couldn't really read the whole window because it was squeezed to fit.  I really wasn't sure what was supposed to happen since the phone was the target of the text messages.

Once, I asked for the code to be sent again, I got no text message and authentication automagically took place.

I must say that I'm fairly happy.  It's better and it's faster and the extra $1.50 per month and the $100 upfront don't hurt too much.  Paying for AppleCare + again and getting new cases added to the expense but every two years, that isn't that horrible.

Update 2016.11.22: At iOS version 10.1.1, things seem okay but not quite good.

The phone seems powerful but not at its full potential.  There are inconsistencies where it will lag but not such that I could point to one app.

LTE seems much better with the Qualcomm chipset.  It hangs onto the signal much longer than the iPhone 6 did.  I suspect that throughput will also be much better, but I haven't been in a lot of Sprint signal friendly areas lately.  I got 68 Mbps at the local skate park with the iPhone 6, but I haven't checked with the iPhone 7 the one time I was recently there.

I noticed that the display brightness was set far too low, probably to show impressive battery life.  Unfortunately, I also need to be able to see what's on the display.  According to the battery monitor, most usage applies to audio.  Using the ear buds might help battery life then.

Update 2016.12.17: I'm learning how frustrating it can be to wear gloves and work an immovable Home Button.  I have to remember to use the power switch to temporarily disable the phone until I can remove my gloves to actually use the phone again.

iOS 10.2 is out and beta testing for 10.2.1 is underway.

I haven't seen a noticeable performance increase at all.  It may be better, but it seems as though they implemented bug and security fixes this time.  I feel bad for the people on version 9.3.5 who will never get the security fixes.  I would have paid for the fixes in order for my phone not to be commandeered.

The phone seems to work well most of the time.  It holds onto my LTE connection well.  Since it's in a case, I don't notice (or care) how slim it is.  It doesn't seem to be overly hot when running games.  The display color seems better.