Apple iPhone 7 Secret Will Anger Everyone

Every iPhone 7 is the same, right? Wrong

Shaking customers’ belief that the only difference between iPhone 7 models is their storage capacity is a new video from tech’s most popular YouTuber Lewis Hilsenteger aka Unbox Therapy – and it shows 32GB iPhone 7 owners are getting a very raw deal indeed. 

Apple's new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus have dramatic performance differences depending on how much you pay. Image credit: Apple

Apple’s new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus have dramatic performance differences depending on how much you pay. Image credit: Apple

In the video Hilsenteger reveals the entry level 32GB iPhone 7 delivers dramatically worse performance than both the 128GB and 256GB models – and his test results are so significant they may change your purchase plans or even motivate you to exchange your 32GB model.

Here’s the recap: both app benchmarking and straight data transfers show the 32GB model of the iPhone 7 has been equipped with storage which is far slower than the more expensive models.

So how does this translate into real life? A good example is Hilsenteger demonstrates copying a high definition movie to a 32GB iPhone 7 takes 40% longer than to a 256GB iPhone 7. Meanwhile benchmarking the two models shows the 32GB option (which managed 42.4 megabytes per second) is almost 9x slower than the 256GB model (341MB per second).

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I can add a further benchmark to this, having tested the 128GB iPhone 7 it delivers write speeds of 298MB/s – slightly slower than the 256GB option, but clearly emphasising a seismic gap to the 32GB cheapest model.

Interestingly Hilsenteger claims that the 32GB models of the $100 more expensive iPhone 7 Plus perform just as badly as the 32GB iPhone 7, but he doesn’t demonstrate this on video. I contacted Apple for a response to these revelations, but following a two day wait the company declined to issue a formal statement. I will update this post if that changes.

What To Think?

So how bad is this? In short, it’s not great.

On the one side there is a defence: solid state storage (which all smartphones use) operates with chips that run in parallel. Consequently the more chips (aka more memory) you add, the more chips can operate together and the faster they can go. Therefore there is no reason the 128GB and 256GB versions of the iPhone 7 should not be able to perform faster than the 32GB model.

And yet this isn’t a full defence, in fact it’s rather disingenuous. To use this argument ignores the fact that 42.4MB/s is not remotely near the limits of what 32GB solid state storage can achieve. Need an example? The 32GB Galaxy S7 Edge is benchmarked at 150MB/s while I benchmarked Google’s new 32GB Pixel XL which achieved a mouthwatering 301MB/s:

Google Pixel XL 32GB write speeds illustrate 32GB should not be a limiting factor on performance. Image credit: Gordon Kelly

Google Pixel XL 32GB write speeds illustrate 32GB should not be a limiting factor on performance. Image credit: Gordon Kelly

All of which causes cracks to appear. 42.4MB/s speeds will not make your iPhone 7 work at a snail’s pace, but this is a clear road bump waiting to happen when considering how future proof you want your shiny new iPhone 7 to be.

On top of this questions have to be asked about how Apple is marketing its 32GB, 128GB and 256GB iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Its website does have a footnote beside the ‘Capacity’ listing for its models, but all the footnote says is:

“Available space is less and varies due to many factors. A standard configuration uses approximately 4GB to 6GB of space (including iOS and built-in apps) depending on the model and settings.”

Nowhere is there a hint that there is a major performance discrepancy between the models and when asking your customers to part with $649 (32GB iPhone 7), $749 (32GB iPhone 7 Plus) or sign a multi year binding carrier contract, they have the right to be very angry indeed.

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