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Tech Tip: Readers Ask About Apple’s New iPhone and Watch

After Apple unveiled new iPhones and smartwatches last week, we asked readers to send us their questions about the devices. J. D. Biersdorfer and Brian X. Chen answer the queries.

Q. How much is the new iPhone going to cost? Do the wireless headphones come with the phone or is a separate payment needed? What colors do they come in again? — Stephanie

J. D.: Here is the breakdown for the iPhone 7, without carrier subsidies or trade-up deals factored in:

■ The 32-gigabyte model: $ 650.

■ The 128-gigabyte model: $ 750.

■ The 256-gigabyte model (the one with the largest capacity): $ 850.

For the larger iPhone 7 Plus:

■ The 32-gigabyte model: $ 770.

■ The 128-gigabyte model: $ 870.

■ The 256-gigabyte model: $ 970.

Apple and most wireless carriers offer monthly payment plans to carve up the cost into smaller cash chunks. Wired earbuds are included in the box, but the wireless AirPods are not part of the package and will cost an additional $ 160 when they arrive in late October.

As for colors, you have your choice of silver, gold, pink (“rose gold”) or flat black for all models. A new glossy ebony shade called “jet black” is also available for both iPhone 7 models in the 128- and 256-gigabyte capacities, but Footnote No. 1 on Apple’s product specifications page warns that the color’s “high shine may show fine microabrasions with use.” It suggests getting a case to protect it — which may defeat the purpose of getting the stylish new color unless you like scratches or clear plastic phone cases.

I have an iPhone 6 I purchased in November 2014 with a warranty, which expires in November 2016. Is it worth it for me to purchase an iPhone 7? — Jack Bertolino

Brian: Based on speed alone, it is probably worthwhile to upgrade if you currently own an iPhone 6. The iPhone 7 is significantly faster than the iPhone 6. In speed tests conducted with the app Geekbench 4, the iPhone 7 was 114 percent faster than the iPhone 6.

Other than that, the iPhone 7 camera is significantly better than the one on the iPhone 6. And when you consider the benefits of the iPhone 7’s being water-and dust-resistant, over all this is a meaningful upgrade if you own an iPhone that is at least two years old.

What is the weight difference for the new phones compared to past models? — Burt Herman

J. D.: For the iPhone models with the 4.7-inch screen size, Apple’s specifications state the iPhone 6 from two years ago tipped the scales at 4.55 ounces and last year’s iPhone 6s came in at 5.04 ounces — but the iPhone 7 dips back down to 4.87 ounces. In the 5.5-inch screen category, the larger iPhone 6 Plus model has a listed weight of 6.07 ounces and the iPhone 6s Plus is 6.77 ounces, but the iPhone 7 Plus edges down to 6.63 ounces. In comparison, the lightest model currently for sale is the iPhone SE, which was released earlier this year. The iPhone SE, with a smaller four-inch screen, is a comparatively svelte 3.99 ounces.

Can other brands of wireless headphones be used with the new 7? Or are you limited to the Apple headphones because of a new type of chip in the device? — Mark Singleton

Brian: The iPhone 7 supports the open Bluetooth standard, so third-party wireless headphones will be compatible with it. The proprietary chip you are referring to, called W1, is inside the AirPods, Apple’s new wireless earbuds. The AirPods will work only with Apple devices.

How does the iPhone 7 camera differ from the ones on the iPhone 6 and 6s? — Pat Well

J. D.: Far from the measly fixed-focus, two-megapixel camera in 2007’s original iPhone, the iPhone 6 line of 2014 had an eight-megapixel camera with a five-element lens, f/2.2 aperture, a True Tone Flash, face detection and other advanced features; the larger 6 Plus also provided optical image stabilization. The iPhone 6s series bumped up the camera resolution to 12 megapixels and added the animated Live Photos feature and 4K video support — but kept the five-element lens and f/2.2 aperture, while optical image stabilization stayed exclusive to the Plus-size version.

However, the iPhone 7 provides optical image stabilization in both the regular and supersize models, and upgrades the hardware to a six-element lens for more colorful photos with greater image detail. The lens also has a larger aperture of f/1.8 and this year’s iPhones have a flash that is 50 percent brighter than the one on last year’s models.

Devotion to serious smartphone photography is where the iPhone 7 line diverges, as the bigger iPhone 7 Plus adds a second camera on the back — a 12-megapixel telephoto unit with a f/2.8 aperture, as well as optical and digital zoom. To get professional-quality portraits, the 7 Plus uses the two cameras together to show the picture’s main subject in sharp focus while gently blurring the background.

For those concerned with the selfie quality in their Instagram feeds, the resolution on the front FaceTime camera has taken a huge leap since the 1.2-megapixel version on the iPhone 6, and even the five-megapixel front camera on last year’s iPhone 6s. The iPhone 7 now tops the line with a seven-megapixel camera staring you in the face.

When you are in an app and you accidentally touch the iPhone’s new home button, as it is touch-sensitive now, will the app close out? — Amanda

Brian: No, the app will not close out. The virtual home button is not just touch-sensitive; it is force-sensitive, meaning it can detect how hard you press. In other words, you have to press down on the button to return to the home screen; when you do, the home button will vibrate in response.

How do you charge the new AirPods? — John Steel

J. D.: The new wireless earbuds will come with a special portable case that both stores and charges the headphones; numerous people have already described it as looking like a large dental floss dispenser. The AirPods themselves are supposed to get about five hours of use per full charge — or a minimum of three charging sessions to get through all four operas in Richard Wagner’s epic .

When the juice runs out, you put the AirPods in the little white charging case to power up again. Apple estimates 15 minutes in the case should get the AirPods about three hours of listening time or at least an hour of talk time, as the earbuds also include microphones for phone calls or Siri commands. The special charging case needs its own power refill after about 24 hours of listening time. So before long trips, remember to charge the charging case as you charge the AirPods so the music doesn’t die while you are in transit.

Can the AirPods be used with older phones? — Curtis Bale

Brian: Older iPhones capable of running the new operating system, iOS 10, will be compatible with the AirPods. Apple’s website says that iPhones all the way back to the four-year-old iPhone 5 can run iOS 10.

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