As expected, the reaction to Apple's (AAPL - Get Report) latest iPhone event has been more subdued than the ones seen for many past events. Nonetheless, Apple did make a number of announcements -- both related to the iPhone 7 and other products -- that show the company remains unrivaled when it comes to mobile hardware and chip engineering.
The A10 Fusion processor powering the iPhone 7 and 7-plus is a good starting point. Though the A10 is believed to use a 16-nanometer manufacturing process not too different from the one used to produce many A9 chips, Apple promises a 40% improvement in CPU performance and a 50% improvement in GPU performance. And with the help of an Apple-designed controller chip that decides whether high-power or low-power CPU cores should be used for a task, it consumes less power than its predecessor.
That's one of the reasons Apple claims the iPhone 7 delivers a two-hour improvement in battery life relative to the 6S under normal use. The 7-plus is said to provide a one-hour improvement relative to the 6S-plus under normal use. As it is, battery life has generally been strong point for the iPhone relative to Android rivals.
Meanwhile, the cameras in both the 7 and 7-plus rely on an Apple image-processing chip that (with the help of machine learning software) can adjust a photo's color, exposure and focus on the fly. And when used with the dual-lens rear camera found on the 7-plus, the processor can quickly create background blur (the kind that's normally hard to get from a smartphone camera) for portrait shots.
Also: the revamped, pressure-sensitive home button supports advanced haptic feedback for various apps with the help of an Apple-developed Taptic Engine. And though they're not OLEDs -- those will likely arrive next year -- the 7 and 7-plus might have the best LCDs of any phones, thanks to a wide color system that appears to have some things in common with the one used by the 9.7-inch iPad Pro.
Looking at complementary hardware, Apple managed to make the second-generation Apple Watch waterproof up to 50 meters by creating a mechanism that ejects water from its speaker. And the company launched four sets of headphones -- its $159 AirPods and three sets of wireless Beats headphones -- that eliminate the need for traditional Bluetooth pairing thanks to their use of Apple's W1 audio/connectivity chip. The AirPods also feature sensors that guarantee they only play music when one of the headphones is in a user's ear, and which bring up a pairing button on an iPhone screen when their pouch is opened.
Collectively, Apple's moves show that hardware and silicon remains core competitive advantages for the company. While mobile software and cloud services are fields where Apple faces fierce competition and leadership is often in the eye of the beholder, the company can still promise would-be iPhone buyers an unparalleled hardware experience.