7 ways Apple's iPhone 7 needs to play catchup to Android

The next iPhones could capture uncertain Android users if they include these important features.

Jessica Dolcourt Senior Director, Commerce & Content Operations
Jessica Dolcourt is a passionate content strategist and veteran leader of CNET coverage. As Senior Director of Commerce & Content Operations, she leads a number of teams, including Commerce, How-To and Performance Optimization. Her CNET career began in 2006, testing desktop and mobile software for Download.com and CNET, including the first iPhone and Android apps and operating systems. She continued to review, report on and write a wide range of commentary and analysis on all things phones, with an emphasis on iPhone and Samsung. Jessica was one of the first people in the world to test, review and report on foldable phones and 5G wireless speeds. Jessica began leading CNET's How-To section for tips and FAQs in 2019, guiding coverage of topics ranging from personal finance to phones and home. She holds an MA with Distinction from the University of Warwick (UK).
Expertise Content strategy | Team leadership | Audience engagement | Tips and FAQs | iPhone | Samsung | Android | iOS
Jessica Dolcourt
3 min read
Andrew Hoyle/CNET
Watch this: iPhone 7: All the rumors

All eyes will be on Apple Wednesday, and on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus that everyone expects the company to announce. Now more than ever, Apple has the advantage to win back on-the-fencers who are as open to an iPhone as they are to a whole chorus of Android phones.

Why? Because Samsung just recalled its latest iPhone opponent, the Galaxy Note 7, over a battery flaw, and because Google hasn't announced its latest Nexus successors (the rumored "Pixel" phones are said to be coming in October). That puts the iPhone in a position of strength and opportunity -- if they can meet some of the top features found in Android rivals.

  • Battery life: An iPhone typically goes dark before several of the longer-lasting Android phones. Longer battery life would help boost Apple's case.

The dongle is a pretty kludgy way to charge a phone. Built-in wireless charging is better.

  • Wireless charging: Samsung phones support native wireless charging right now (in addition to standard wired USB charging) and it's extremely convenient. Wireless charging is a premium feature that would give buyers open to switching one more reason to stay. (Sure, you can use dongles in coffee shops like Starbucks, but trust me, it isn't the same.)
  • Waterproofing: Found on high-end Sony and Samsung phones -- and even some ultracheap Moto phones -- water-resistance seems like a gimme for a company like Apple that prides itself on its hardware construction. It would buy phone owners peace of mind if they spill a glass of water, or if the phone's on the receiving end of an especially effective pool-time cannonball.
  • Better camera quality: Apple's iPhone cameras are consistently top-notch, but that doesn't mean they're the absolute best in every scenario. More and more Android phone makers employ hardware and software to increase manual control, add effects as well as filters and dominate low-light photography. Samsung's 2016 Galaxy phones are as good or better than the iPhone 6S/6S Plus, by most accounts. Apple needs to bring it.
  • VR and AR: Virtual reality isn't mainstream by a long shot, but Google has thrown down the gauntlet with its Daydream platform. Yes, third-party apps -- like the recent Pokemon Go phenomenon -- have introduced the masses to augmented reality in a big way. And Apple CEO Tim Cook is on the record as being very interested in the technologies. But it's time for Apple to capitalize on both trends.

iPhone 7: Most-wanted features

See all photos
  • Voice recognition and control: The virtual Android assistant commonly called Google Now trounces Siri in almost every way -- from the depth of information you can get to the way that the virtual assistant presents it. Although Apple popularized voice commands (especially asking for them in a "natural" way), Google now does it best. There's always a chance Apple will surprise us with new Siri capabilities it didn't announce with iOS 10 this summer -- and I hope it does.
  • Storage capacity: For the past many years, the base iPhone has offered 16GB of storage. That's a pretty pathetic number in this day and age, barely enough to house the operating system and a few apps, let alone zillions of photos, videos and games. The rumor mill pegs the iPhone 7's storage to go from 32GB to a whopping 256GB -- a welcome if overdue change, but one that matches what similarly priced Android phones have had for years, thanks to cheap microSD expandable storage.

Will Apple nail some -- or all -- of these improvements in its new phones? We'll see what actually happens on Wednesday at 10 a.m. PT in San Francisco at Apple's launch event. Join CNET for all the news, live from the event!