At DaringFireball this morning, Gruber published his review of the new iPhones 7 that will hit retail this Friday. It’s a lengthy review but very well thought out, and I recommend reading it in its entirety.

Regarding the home button no longer being a physically pushable button, John observes that it’s likely due to the fact that so many iPhone users in Asia and elsewhere are loath to use the button because it’s considered breakable since it’s a moving part.

I think Apple designed this no-click button in the hopes that it will get these people to use the home button as intended. But now we’re all stuck with a button that doesn’t feel as good. […]

It’s a minor tragedy if I’m right that this is why Apple has made the home button worse for the rest of us […]

Something I’ve noticed about Apple, though, is that it often has more than one reason for making a product decision such as this one. I think Gruber’s onto something, but I can’t help wonder if there’s more to it than this. In a MacRumors article that John linked to, we read:

Apple has been working on developing touch and display driver integration (TDDI) chips since 2015, which would let the Touch ID fingerprint recognition system be embedded directly into the display, allowing for the elimination of the Home button.

I’m not sure that we’ll be seeing the home button go away completely in next year’s iPhone. It does sound plausible, however, that the next iPhone will have a screen that goes edge to edge. You wouldn’t want a physical button on something like that. Even if it were technologically possible, it wouldn’t make any sense. Apple is beginning the transition to the 2017 iPhone with this new home button in the iPhones 7. I suspect Asia has something to do with this change, but I think next year’s new iPhone has a lot to do with it — I daresay it’s the primary reason.

Regarding whether to get the iPhone 7 or the iPhone 7 Plus, Gruber nails it:

It all comes down to the camera. And the camera decision all comes down to Portrait mode. And Portrait mode isn’t available yet.

If Portrait mode had been bundled in the initial release of iOS 10, I might have preordered an iPhone 7 Plus. A few months isn’t that big of a deal after the fact, but it sure feels that way at the time.

This is outside the scope of Gruber’s article but there’s another problem with the Plus model. Not only is its software going to take a couple months to be fully realized, but the device itself is hard to get right now. Several of us got up Friday at midnight PDT1 and tried to order the iPhone 7 Plus with no luck. The online Apple Store opened its doors somewhere around 12:10 AM2 and the Plus models became unavailable just a few minutes afterwards. There was a window of fewer than 5 minutes in which you could preorder an iPhone 7 Plus. It will be weeks or possibly months before it becomes available to everyone. That’s actually a real problem if you’re on Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program. With this program, you cannot upgrade to the new iPhone until you’ve made 12 payments on your current one. In other words, if you pick up the iPhone 7 Plus two weeks after it initially hits retail, you’ll have to either wait two weeks after next year’s iPhone hits retail in order to get it, or you’ll have to make an extra arbitrary payment. It would only be $40, give or take, but it’d be a real nuisance. There’s no way I’m doing that. Because Apple has such low availability of the Plus model compared to its demand, it doesn’t make sense using the iPhone Upgrade Program to buy it if you’re wanting the new iPhone each year as soon as it comes out. You’re better off paying cash for it and then selling it a month before the new one is announced, which gets messy.

  1. Since midnight is the start of the day, that’s 12:00 AM PDT. ↩︎
  2. Apple has launched iPhones before. It confuses me that it doesn’t have a deploy process that’s timed closer to the stroke of midnight. If your deploy process takes 10 minutes, you start at 11:50 PM, not 12:00 AM. ↩︎