Using the iPhone 7+ in Cuba

We just returned from a week in Cuba and it’s hard to explain what a strange and wonderful country it is. First, the people are incredible in every way: kind, patient, creative, and resourceful. At the same time, the country is broken in every way: the physical structures, transportation, pollution, communication, etc. Here is a photo of a tourist restaurant in “Old Havana” where excellent, international dishes were served in a modern setting. It was empty at lunch, but jam packed with customers every evening.

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This is the view from the building less than a block away.

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We traveled with a group of professional photographers so we visited many non-tourist locations that I shot primarily with an iPhone 7+. Here are 10 things I learned.

  1. Swipe to open camera is a fast, fluid gesture that I used probably a 100 times a day.
  2. Low light performance is so good that the flash was rarely necessary. This was good because it’s very slow to fire.
  3. The 2x optical is surprisingly useful, but I also used an inexpensive point and shoot with 10x zoom that came in handy. Mine has an articulating screen which was perfect for waist level candid shots. Sticking a big camera lens in someone’s face just feels wrong.
  4. Backups without iCloud – The was one of the biggest issues. The internet is not available in Cuba unless you count 5 Mbps speeds in a park or hotel lobby shared with 100 others as access. Since iOS is a closed system, I used this device which was kludgy, but workable.
  5. Waterproofing – It was a true revelation to be able to use an unprotected iPhone in the rain. Also for navigation without the internet, Maps.me was a lifesaver.
  6. VPN – Even when we could use the internet, a VPN connection was required to access our US accounts. It’s a good idea for safely using any public Wifi when traveling.
  7. Editing photos with iOS is super advanced. The stock photo app is great. Adding professional level tools like Snapseed, PicsArt, Pixelmator, and Photoshop Fix can result in photos like these.
  8. Airdrop is awesome! Even without internet access, we transferred photos within the group with ease. Even sending photos to 15 people at once was simple. You need to have Bluetooth and Wifi turned on, but it’s peer-to-peer so the internet is not required.
  9. Triggering the camera with the Apple Watch is cool. You can get a refurbished series 1 for around $240 now. Here’s one I took.
  10. Portrait mode is icing on the cake. Take a look at the these shots.

So there are some interesting observations from our trip. The iPhone 7+ is a powerhouse of a travel camera that can replace a GPS and a laptop for editing. If you’re reading this on Turkey Day, wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving. Travel always reminds me that we have a lot to be thankful for!