In an age of disposable electronics, Apple brought its A game in crafting the iPhone 7 Plus -- it's the rare smartphone that seems to deliver all it can with the focus on making itself indispensable rather than holding features back in order to get you to lust after next year's model.
For starters, this is a remarkably resilient piece of technology, being that it's the first water-resistant phone Apple has created. Gone are the days of the accidental spill or drop into the porcelain phone death trap that leads to a desperate soaking in a bin of rice.
Also gone are longings for faster speed, a sharper display, a better camera, more storage or better battery life. The dizzying array of specs includes a blistering quad-core, 2.23GHz processor, a shimmering 5.5-inch 1080p display, a sharp-shooting 12MP wide-angle camera capable of nailing images of your dreams in both high and low light, storage of up to 256GB and a lithium ion battery that can withstand a gladiatorial 13 consecutive hours of intense usage.
All that, and it won't catch fire like its ill-fated rival, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7.
Starting a holiday budget-friendly $649 for the 4.7-inch standard iPhone 7 model, the generation of world-beating smartphones builds upon a spectacular base to reach unprecedented heights for products of its ilk.
Photo nerds will fall in love with the new camera suite. The rear-facing telephoto lens offers an optical zoom of 2X and a digital zoom of 10X to capture amazing shots from considerable distances. It also introduces a depth-of-field effect portrait mode that was previously only found in DSLR cameras. Add all that to the 7MP selfie cam that auto-stabilizes images to make your selfies and FaceTime settings look better.
The sound setup also receives a hefty boost, with stereo speakers that double the audio fidelity of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Gone is the need to spring fro expensive headphones or audio enhancers when you're using the phone to catch up on your Netflix viewing.
There are few downsides here. Some will miss the headphone jack, but the bluetooth earpods provide considerable advantages you once had to spring for peripherals to nab. Runners will appreciate not being tethered to tangle-hazard cords as they work out.
Like all smartphones, the glass continues to be at risk of shattering due to an ill-timed drop -- although the current display is said to be far more shatterproof than previous generations -- but you can hedge against that danger by springing for a lipped case. You can find them online for $15 or less. The same can't be said for the Galaxy S7 Edge, with a beautiful yet bulging curved screen that eschews protection of many cases.
Whether you're looking to upgrade your daily driver or find a gift that will wow most anyone, you can't go wrong with the remarkable 7 Plus. It's a phone meant to stick around as other devices come and go.