Opinion: Apple iPhone 7 is the best phone you can buy, and also the blackest

It's waterproof, has a longer-lasting battery and better camera, too. But most of all, boy does Apple know how to market it

I've seen so many Apple launches now - going all the way back to the first iPhone one - that I thought nothing could surprise me at one of the World's Biggest Brand's iPhone events.

And how right I was. But there was something about this one that was so much better than in recent years.

• Best smartphones: does not contain iPhone 7! Yet!

• Best smartwatches: Apple Watch Series 2 and Samsung Gear S3 coming soon!

You can count on numerous things at Apple events.

• Tim Cook will wear a horrible shirt that's slightly too big for his lanky frame, and dad jeans. Yes, the stereotype of all gay men being vain and well dressed is outdated and wrong but… Couldn't he try to look just a little more, well, fabulous?

• There will be much earnest talk about saving the world through renewable energy and helping to educate kids in need. There'll be very little chat about helping nation states to do the same by, you know, paying them some tax.

• There will be a claim that will literally make you gasp at its audacity. This time around, it was Phil Schiller's boast that the reason for dropping a headphone socket from the iPhone was simply this: courage. You know, like when you stand in front of a tank armed only with a placard. EXACTLY like that.

But mainly there will be new product that is pretty similar to the old product, but a bit better. That's hardly unique to Apple. All tech brands do it because it's really not that easy to come up with new ideas. I've probably written this opinion piece about 17 times, thinking about it.

However, Apple is uniquely shackled to its own past, when it would put out something pretty mind-blowing every year or so. Ah, such times.

So as consumers and observers, we're left to obsess over what are really pretty minor details.

There are big sections of the web where apparently fully grown-up men are shocked - SHOCKED, I say! - that the iPhone's camera protrudes a bit, and it's sometimes necessary to buy a new charging cable for it, because the old one has worn out.

Those people were inevitably SHOCKED and DISGUSTED by the loss of the headphone socket last night.

Seriously? Gosh. And people in Syria think they have it tough. Get a wireless pair or an adaptor you big babies! Arcam does a battery, protective case, DAC and headphone amp in one for 70 quid, and I know that because they bought me lunch a while back to tell me so. Very nice it was too.

Nobody does it better

The thing with Apple though is that its products are damn good. And boy do they know it.

Even though this year's big reveal (or "not-so-big-since-everything-had-already-leaked reveal", really) didn't contain anything more shocking than the loss of that much-loved old port, it was one of the better ones of recent years, because it got back to what Apple does best.

No, what Apple does best these days is not 'innovating' as such, but creating slightly improved things, and then presenting and explaining them very, very well.

What was different this time was it genuinely seemed to have absorbed what consumers were asking for, and delivered. Not just the mass market, but also Apple's old-school core constituency.

In this case, that involved a back-to-basics approach to design. By which I mean Jonny Ive was wheeled out to talk about the industrial processes used to make an iPhone from the very blackest of all black materials. A black so black that to look at it was actually impossible, and time appeared to be inverting itself around it. A black slightly blacker than a headless pint of guinness, in a coal mine, at night.

Now we can all have a good laugh about this, but fact is black is GREAT. The best looking iPhones ever were the 3G with its pebble-like black back, and the 4, with it's glassy noirish charms.

On recent models, there's been no black, No, 'Space Gray' is not black. Clue's in the name.

The iPhone 7 not only comes in a proper black finish, it comes in Jet Black, which is like black, but considerably blacker.

Appealing to the core old skool demographic of people who are style and design obsessed and really do "always bet on black" is a bit of a masterstroke. They've felt left behind by the rush to make things from rose gold and appeal to Chinese people with yachts.

The massive focus on the camera, with quotes from men in stylish hats who are apparently professional photographers was another big nod in that direction.

But Apple also addressed the concerns of normal people, who dress like Tim Cook.

The public, or at least the portion of the public that chunters on about tech on the internet, has been calling for these things from the iPhone: waterproofing, better battery life, better screen, better camera, and the exciting opportunity to spend a load more money on Apple-branded accessories, adaptors and headphones.

Apple made every single one of those wishes come true.

Who could seriously say there's a better phone than the iPhone 7 out there now or in the near future? It may not necessarily better than the Samsung S7 in any significant way, but it's also clearly not worse in any way, plus it looks nicer, it's newer and, most of all, it's blacker.

What Apple does so well is this: it doesn't really sell its products on specs, it sells them on intangibles like feelings and perceptions. The Nike version of the new Apple Watch isn't about metrics (though it does them), it's about 'motivation'. The camera on the iPhone 7 Plus is about beautifying its subjects with shallow depth of field and bokeh, not mere, vulgar megapixels.

Black is the quintessential style statement. It's never not stylish. The iPhone 7 is not merely black, it is the blackest thing ever. Ergo, it is the most stylish phone ever.

Make me feel sad for the rest

The iPhone 7 is probably the best phone you'll be able to buy this year. It's beautiful and sleek and powerful.

It's not going to change your life and there are other phones that are almost as good in their own way.

But watching yesterday's event, with all its unprovable claims, earnest words, dad jeans and awkward humour, still gave me a kick.

Several brands make mobile devices as well - or not quite as well, but for a lot less money - than Apple these days. But nobody sells the damn things like it does.

Duncan Bell

Duncan is the former lifestyle editor of T3 and has been writing about tech for almost 15 years. He has covered everything from smartphones to headphones, TV to AC and air fryers to the movies of James Bond and obscure anime. His current brief is everything to do with the home and kitchen, which is good because he is an excellent cook, if he says so himself. He also covers cycling and ebikes – like over-using italics, this is another passion of his. In his long and varied lifestyle-tech career he is one of the few people to have been a fitness editor despite being unfit and a cars editor for not one but two websites, despite being unable to drive. He also has about 400 vacuum cleaners, and is possibly the UK's leading expert on cordless vacuum cleaners, despite being decidedly messy. A cricket fan for over 30 years, he also recently become T3's cricket editor, writing about how to stream obscure T20 tournaments, and turning out some typically no-nonsense opinions on the world's top teams and players.

Before T3, Duncan was a music and film reviewer, worked for a magazine about gambling that employed a surprisingly large number of convicted criminals, and then a magazine called Bizarre that was essentially like a cross between Reddit and DeviantArt, before the invention of the internet. There was also a lengthy period where he essentially wrote all of T3 magazine every month for about 3 years. 

A broadcaster, raconteur and public speaker, Duncan used to be on telly loads, but an unfortunate incident put a stop to that, so he now largely contents himself with telling people, "I used to be on the TV, you know."