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Original iPhone vs iPhone 7 Plus - 10 Years On, How Has The Camera Technology Changed?

The Apple iPhone is celebrating its 10th birthday so we thought it would be fun to compare the original iPhone with the much newer iPhone 7 Plus.

| iPhone 7 Plus in Camera Phones
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2007, the year that a total lunar eclipse brought skywatchers out of their homes, up to 10cm of snow fell in February and Apple announced the release of a phone that was going to change how we use technology forever. 

The phone was, of course, the iPhone and as today is the day it celebrates its 10th birthday, we thought we'd take a look at just how much the camera technology built into these devices has changed.

Since its store arrival on 29 June 2007, we've seen people stand in long queues outside Apple stores waiting for 7 generations of the iPhone (perhaps now's a good time to reserve your professional queuer so you don't have to freeze to death waiting in line for the iPhone 8, rumoured to be released in September). The latest versions - iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus - come with plenty of bells and whistles and as you can probably guess, walk all over the original when it comes to picture quality. 

The original iPhone only had a 2Mp camera and selfie fans will be shocked to hear that in 2007, front cameras didn't exist on iPhones and you couldn't upload images to Instagram as there was no third-party app support. This actually came with the arrival of the iPhone 3G when the app store was introduced.

Jump to 10 years later and we have an iPhone that not only has a 12Mp rear camera and 7Mp front camera, but the rear camera has two lenses that have different focal lengths. This, effectively, gives the iPhone 7 Plus user optical zoom and the chance to use a new 'Portrait Mode' which is designed to create the look of using a DSLR or CSC. 


Original iPhone vs iPhone 7 Plus - 10 Years On, How Has The Camera Technology Changed?: iPhone and iPhone 7 Plus

Left: iPhone 7 Plus in all its colours, Right: Original iPhone, just one colour choice


When you start to mention features such as RAW (the original iPhone's file type wasn't specified), 10x digital zoom, optical image stabilisation, a 6-element lens and wide colour capture, you soon start to realise that the camera technology built into iPhones has come a long way in a relatively short period of time. 

It's almost unfair to continue the comparison because let's face it, the original iPhone camera is really rubbish when compared with the iPhone 7 Plus but now we've started, we might as well finish...

The original screen measured 3.5inch and had a 320x480 resolution and when compared with the 5.5inch Retina HD 1920x1080 display of the iPhone 7 Plus, you can guarantee that today's viewing experience is definitely improved. However, we do have the original iPhone to thank for bringing multitouch touchscreen to market.

We're used to our smartphones shooting in 4k now but back in 2007, you didn't even have a video option. In fact, this didn't arrive until the iPhone 3GS when autofocus and more options to adjust exposure were also made available. Low light performance was, well, shocking on the original iPhone and you didn't even have an LED flash to try and add a little light to your scene. An LED flash wasn't available on the 3GS either, this small addition made an appearance the following year on the iPhone 4 which was when Apple started to pay more attention to the camera built into their smartphones. 

With the App store not existing when the first iPhone was released, we obviously have more choice when it comes to editing our photos now and the same can be said for how we capture them with modes such as panorama, which seem so basic, not originally existing.




There are a couple of similarities between new and old with the native camera app not changing substantially and you still capture photos the same way. The battery probably lasts just as long too, even though it's been improved, as we use so many apps and features on the phone all day now that we end up plugging it into the mains every night so it's ready to be our constant companion the next day. 

Ok...comparison over and as you probably guessed before opening this article up, pitting the two smartphones against each other was a bit pointless as obviously, the iPhone 7 Plus camera is so much better than the original iPhone. However, it was fun to have a trip down memory lane and it does make you wonder if we ever thought the photos the original iPhone captured were actually any good. Also, as we said earlier, it's made us realise just how far the camera technology in all smartphones, not just the iPhone, has improved and changed in 10 years. Back then, we were using phones as phones were intended and the additional features were secondary. Now, the secondary features have taken centre-stage and phone calls are actually something many of us try to avoid. 

If someone told you 10 years ago that you'd be taking photos and uploading images to social media, wirelessly, from a device you make phone calls on, some might have laughed but it did happen and as a result, it makes the next ten years of technology advancements very promising. It'll definitely be interesting to see how smartphone technology has changed by 2027. 

Happy Birthday, iPhone. 

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Photographs taken using the iPhone 7 Plus

Daiquiri barVegas, looking SWCaliforniaWitty urban signageBuying plastic pumpkins"If you need a hand..."'Addicted to social media...'FordHoghton TowerHoghton TowerLook at the ViewGlenfinnan MonumentEnjoying the weekend at Oban with the current Mrs CozPics

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ChrisV Avatar
ChrisV 16 2.3k 26 United Kingdom
It might have been interesting to actually see some shots compared, if only for fun.

I resisted buying an iPhone myself, even as an Apple user of now some 28 [feck!] years, until version 4 and the retina display. I think that had a 5 megapixel sensor and I've a few shots from that which were acceptable enough to go onto Pixabay's library. So half-decent in good light. My 7 plus does however have the zoom, that very impressive DoF simulator [which does an incredibly good job if frequently 'fooled' by transparent objects].

I do quite frequently use the iPhone's panorama mode - the stitching is really quite effective and where it doesn't work due to obvious practical constraints, the effect can be serendipitous. The file sizes are massive and it does what it says on the tin. Quality in absolute terms may still be a long way off what you'd get from a larger sensor dedicated camera, but in the right circumstances it's still a very effective photographic tool.

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