Why I Just Bought An iPhone 7 in 2020

I'll admit, I'm fickle. When my 2015 MacBook Pro quit, I took the opportunity to get a Surface Pro. The idea was to replace the laptop and my iPad with it. Which it can easily do, but for me it just wasn't a very good tablet experience. A little too heavy, and photo editing apps such as Exposure didn’t work as well as I hoped with the Surface Pen. So it went back and I thought I'd try using my iPad for most things, borrowing my wife's MacBook Pro when I need it. Turns out, I don’t need it. Often I've had a task (backing up to a NAS drive, scanning photos) and assumed I'll need a laptop. Then I try it on the iPad, and find a way. Sometimes it's slower, sometimes it just needs a bit of re-thinking. Sometimes it remarkably easy. But it works, for everything I've needed to do.

For a phone, I try to have two useable phones. One for everyday use in the US, and another with a UK sim and my old UK number for trips back. Up to last week that was a Pixel 3 and an original Pixel and they've been very good. Excellent cameras, reliable, and Android Phones work pretty well with Windows on a Surface Pro. Not so well with an iPad though. I mean it works fine, and most apps sync. But there's no Apple Photos, no Darkroom, no Hipstamatic, no Castro. No integration of text messages or notifications or personal assistant. Hence thinking about switching back to an iPhone. (Plus I find it frustrating that one home screen on the Pixels has to be a dedicated a Google feed).

Money no object, I'd probably get an iPhone 11 (non-pro). But that would mean waiting a while to have the funds, and then there would be the iPhone 12 looming. Then there are the rumours of an iPhone 9, but with the likelihood of virus-induced delays. So an older used phone gives an easy way to swap, and could become a backup if I decide later to get something newer. I found an iPhone 7 on Decluttr for a good price that’s in great condition. The iPhone 8 would have given me wireless charging for more cost, and the XR would have been a great option but meant spending much more than I can get for trading in the Pixel 3.

It also gives me the opportunity to test how much storage I might need in a upgraded iPad. Whereas there is significant extra cost to the higher storage options in a new phone, buying used meant that 256Gb instead of 64Gb was only an extra $10. I’ll turn off all the storage optimizations and see if 256Gb gives enough headroom for importing 200 or 300 RAW files when I need to.

The camera isn’t amazing but it’s decent. No portrait mode but I found that I never entirely trusted it on the Pixel anyway. Here’s a quick sample from the iPhone 7, using Hipstamatic:

Battery life does seem disappointing, but maybe that’s because if the heavy use getting it set up how I want. It does feel such a small phone now, and I guess that means a small battery. It should last a day of normal use but does seem to drop more quickly than the Pixel. It’s battery health shows at 94% so that seems good for a 2016 old phone. Ironically, I'll still have to carry around two cables, with the iPad now being USB-C and the iPhone still stuck on Lightning. I guess integration only goes so far.


Headshot, portrait, street and documentary photographer in NYC and Jersey City


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