How Is the iPhone 7 Different From the iPhone 6S?

If you're looking for an older-model iPhone, here's what you should know

A customer checks an iPhone 7 inside an Apple store

Chesnot / Getty Images  

If you're looking for an older iPhone model, the iPhone 7 and 6S are capable, feature-rich devices. While they may lack some of the bells and whistles of the iPhone 11 or other recent models, they're perfect for a child or anyone who'd like to save money but still enjoy a good smartphone.

Deciding between an iPhone 7 and an iPhone 6S can be confusing because they have the same shape and design. Here's a look at the differences between these two older-model iPhones so you can decide which one best suits your needs.

While the Apple Store doesn't sell the iPhone 7 or iPhone 6S, Apple Store retail locations often keep some older models in stock for exchanges. These earlier models are available from sellers such as Best Buy and Amazon.

The iPhone 7 Doesn't Have a Headphone Jack

When the iPhone 7 came along without a headphone jack, it caused an uproar among users dedicated to their wired headphones. The lack of a headphone jack might be the most significant difference between the iPhone 7 and iPhone 6S for some consumers.

The iPhone 7 doesn't have a traditional headphone jack. Instead, connect your headphones using the Lightning port (or wirelessly if you have AirPods). Apple reportedly made this change to make more room inside the iPhone for a better 3D Touch sensor. Whatever the reason, the iPhone 6S and iPhone SE are the last iPhone models with standard headphone jacks.

These days, with the enormous success of AirPods, headphone jacks matter only to people who really like their wired headphones. Inexpensive Lightning-to-headphone jack adapters easily connect wired headphones to iPhones with Lightning ports, so this factor shouldn't matter too much if you're deciding between an iPhone 7 and an iPhone 6S.

Apple AirPods
Apple Inc.

The iPhone 7 Plus Has a Dual-Camera System

The iPhone 7 Plus model introduced a dual-camera system, which was a big deal for photo buffs. The back camera on the 7 Plus has two 12-megapixel cameras, not one. The second lens provides telephoto features, supports up to 10x zoom, and allows for sophisticated depth-of-field effects that weren't possible on older iPhones.

Combine these features with the four flashes included on both the 7 and 7 Plus and the camera system on this iPhone is truly impressive.

The camera on the iPhone 6S is very good, but if you're into photography, the iPhone 7 Plus might be your best older-model iPhone choice.

Man taking photo with an iPhone 7 Plus
Ming Yeung / Getty Images

Redesigned Home Button

The iPhone 6S introduced 3D Touch, which allows the iPhone's screen to recognize how hard you're pressing it and respond in different ways. The 7 has the same screen but adds 3D Touch functionality to the Home button, as well.

The iPhone 7's Home button is a flat, unmoving panel with 3D Touch features (it's very similar to Apple's Magic Trackpad). Its structure makes the button less likely to break and more resistant to dust and water. If this upgraded technology is crucial for you, an iPhone 7 might be the best choice for your older-model iPhone.

iPhone 7 Increased Storage Capacity

The iPhone 6S stretched the maximum storage capacity for the iPhone line to 128 GB, double the iPhone 6's 64 GB. The iPhone 7, in turn, upped its storage capacity to 256 GB. Even the iPhone 7's introductory storage capacity doubled from 16 GB to 32 GB.

If you have a lot of music, movies, and photos, the iPhone 7 might be a better choice.

The iPhone 7 Has a Faster Processor

Virtually every iPhone is built around a new, faster processor, and the iPhone 7 was no exception. It runs Apple's A10 Fusion processor, which is a quad-core, 64-bit chip.

Apple says the A10 is 40 percent faster than the A9 used in the iPhone 6S and twice as fast as the A8 used in the 6 series. Combining the A10's extra horsepower with new power-conservation features means the iPhone 7 is faster than the iPhone 6S and has better battery life.

The iPhone 7 gets about two hours more battery life than the 6S, on average, according to Apple.

Apple A10 Fusion Processor
Apple Inc.

The iPhone 7 Has a Dual-Speaker System

The iPhone 7 was the first iPhone model to sport a dual-speaker system, which is a significant factor for those who prize great-sounding audio.

All previous iPhone models had a single speaker at the bottom of the phone. The 7 has that same single speaker at the bottom, but it also uses the speaker you use to listen to phone calls as a second audio output. So, when playing audio without headphones, you'll hear it coming from both the bottom and top of the phone.

If you plan to use the iPhone's multimedia functions, the iPhone 7 is a better choice than the iPhone 6S. 

The iPhone 7 Has an Improved Screen

The screens used on the iPhone 7 series feature Retina Display technology, but the key difference between the iPhone 6S and iPhone 7 is the iPhone 7's increased color range, which lets the iPhone display more colors that look more natural. Even better, the screen is also 25 percent brighter, which provides an additional image quality boost.

If this color-range difference is essential to you, the iPhone 7 is a better choice than the iPhone 6S.

iPhone 7 screen
Apple Inc.

iPhone 7 Features Water and Dust Resistance

The iPhone 7 series introduced both waterproofing and dust resistance, keeping two environmental menaces at bay. It also meets the IP67 standard for dust-proofing and waterproofing. 

While certainly not the first smartphone to offer this feature, the 7 was the first iPhone to have this level of protection. It's something to consider when deciding between an iPhone 7 and iPhone 6S.

Coffee spilling over an iphone
vm / Getty Images

New Color Options

The iPhone 6S introduced the rose-gold color to the iPhone lineup, joining traditional gold, space gray, and silver. The iPhone 7 series nixed the space gray, but added black and jet black along with the other colors.

Since these are older phones, there's no guarantee you'll find your preferred color today, but if you have a preference, check eBay and other sellers.

iPhone 7 color options
Apple Inc.