Some time ago Apple released the iPhone 6S and if you’re not familiar with the Apple practice you may be confused about this new handset, as it looks identical to the iPhone 6. But fear not they are not the same, on the inside at least.
There is better hardware, improved camera, stronger case, the new 3D Touch and (at last) 2GB of RAM. Over the years the ‘S’ always brought something new to the plate, the iPhone 4S added Siri and the iPhone 5S had the Touch ID fingerprint sensor.
The main addition to the iPhone 6s is definitely the new pressure-sensitive touchscreen technology named the 3D Touch that although right now is quite awesome and will definitely become more interesting when more apps are released for it.
But is it worth the upgrade over last year’s flagship, the iPhone 6? It really depends, the iPhone 6 is a lot cheaper now, the Galaxy S6 is more affordable and there are a lot of other brilliant phones to choose from, so this may be a tough choice.
While it’s obvious that the iPhone 6s is the better device, owners of an iPhone 6 maybe should wait for the next year’s flagship as the device seems more focused on the people who bought the iPhone 5S.
So, overall, what Apple has to do is to convince people that the S variant of iPhone 6 is worth the upgrade, even if there are a lot of other smartphones to choose from and unfortunately the iPhone 6S doesn’t seem like a game changer, it only has some subtle upgrades that may have a lot of potential with future updates or installments.
We have reviewed the iPhone 6 some time ago and we liked it, the buttons were placed perfectly, the glass and metal case was solid and looked really good and it was incredibly comfortable to hold in hand.
At first glance, the iPhone 6S seems identical in every way, it has the same rounded corners and edges, but there are some subtle design changes. The frame is a bit thicker and because the display is different, there is a little more weight added.
The front of the phone is now stronger, the glass being less likely to shatter if the phone is dropped and lastly, the iPhone 6S is now made of the 7000 series aluminum. This means that the phone won’t bend as easily as the iPhone 6 (which can bend in tight pockets without much pressure being applied to it).
We consider that this should have been added from the beginning, risking to break the phone in you pocket just from moving around is something that should have been addressed from the start.
As said before, these changes are subtle and will most likely go unnoticed by most. The volume buttons, the silencer switch and the power key are in the same place as last year and this isn’t a bad thing because the phone is easy to operate with one hand and the buttons are exactly where they should be.
Note: The iPhone 6S is compatible with iPhone 6 cases.
Every other year, Apple releases the S version of the iPhone and this usually means that there is no change into the design of the phone but some new hardware or software addition. And this year we got both.
The iPhone 6S seems to have the same display as the iPhone 6, featuring a 4.7-inch LED-backlit IPS LCD display with a resolution of 1334x750p, 16 million colours and a pixel density of 326ppi.
Although there are far cheaper phones that offer 1080p resolution or even 4K display(which is a serious overkill!), the iPhone 6S still offers a great display experience, being crisp and clear, with deep blacks, bright whites and very accurate colours.
Still, it’s clearly not better than the Super AMOLED from the Samsung Galaxy S6, but it is bright and vivid enough to enjoy watching a movie.
While the resolution stays the same there is one major addition from the last year’s flagship. You are now presented with the 3D Touch which offers a completely new way to interact with the iPhone.
Basically, what this means is that besides the two dimensional interaction with the icons and apps you now get a third one which helps the iPhone 6S to detect different levels of pressure and react depending on the way you press.
This opens up whole new possibilities. If right now you can only open pop-up windows, trigger quick actions or expand, preview links and messages and there is a lot that can be done in the future.
So we could use the 3D Touch for music apps, games, photo editing and more, bringing the phone closer to what a computer feels and operates.
Yes, we liked this new technology that is not entirely developed and widely used, but will be better in the next months.
The iPhone 6S features better hardware than the iPhone 6, with an Apple A9 Chipset, 1.84GHz dual-core Typhoon CPU, six-core PowerVR GT7600 GPU, 2GB RAM and, still, no card slot.
So, we have a much faster processor (Apple claims that the new processor is nearly twice as powerful than the one on the iPhone 6) and more RAM (at last!).
This translates into smoother multitasking, better handling of graphically-demanding tasks (like playing games), there was no stuttering, no dropped frames and the phone never lagged while we used it.
Part of this almost flawless behaviour is the optimization between the iPhone’s hardware and the iOS (we will talk later about it). There was also some improvement for the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, which is now faster and more accurate.
But there are some shortcomings. Apple decided to keep 16GB as base memory for iPhone 6S and because there isn’t a microSD slot, filling up those 16GB will happen in no time.
What we also noticed is that the phone does get a bit warm when resource-heavy games were running but it wasn’t anything alarming, this behaviour being quite common for phones with metal body.
The iOS has always been the backbone of the iPhones and the new installment, the iOS 9 offers the same stability and user-friendliness we were accustomed to and thanks to its subtle tweaks over the years and the new added 3D touch, the iOS 9 is the best iPhone software to date.
Note: The iOS 9 is now available to download for every compatible device.
As always, the iOS is quick and responsive, the App Store is still vibrant (and of higher quality than Google Play Store) and the apps have suffered some transformations and upgrades.
The Apple Maps, now, has transit directions, there is a News app, that is quite basic, pulling topics from different sources in a magazine-style interface. Notifications are now filtered by time, not by app and thanks to the M9 coprocessor, Siri is always on standby you can now you can wake it by yelling Hey Siri instead of pressing a button. Siri, also, can respond to a lot more commands.
The 3D Touch is its main feature and although in its infancy, is implemented the best with Apple’s Mail. You can preview messages, archive them or mark them as unread.
The iOS 9 is one of the best phone software on the market, all of its parts just work great together translating into the most stable software on the phone market (one of the reasons the iPhone is so popular today).
Both the rear and front cameras have also received significant upgrades. The primary one has gone from 8-megapixel to 12-megapixel, with the same phase detection Autofocus and Dual-LED flash and, unfortunately Apple hasn’t upgraded its lens, having the same f/2.2 aperture.
The Camera app is similar with the one from previous years, viewing photos is easy, when in gallery just press the screen harder to activate 3D Touch.
In good light photos are great (just like last year), with lots of detail and clarity and with natural looking colours. Putting it against the Samsung Galaxy S6 we found them on equal terms, depending on your preferences, but this performance is available only in good light.
In low-lit sceneries, the iPhone 6S severely underperforms comparing to other similar or low priced alternative smartphones. Photos were nice indoors and in low light but because it lacks optical image stabilization, they could have been better.
The optical image stabilization is available for iPhone 6S Plus, but the decision to cut it from iPhone 6S is a very bad choice from Apple.
Let’s not forget about the Live Photos feature. What it does it take a 1.5 second photo before and after the actual shooting and turns in into a small video (these videos are not like normal videos, they’re more like time lapses).
This is a really nice feature, but the results may vary, as you have to keep the camera perfectly still or the videos will start off really choppy.
Note: The main camera can now shoot 4K videos.
The secondary camera has also received major upgrades, it now has 5-megapixel (the previous model had 1.2-megapixel) with features like HDR, face detection and panorama.
The front camera is a lot better than before, especially thanks to a new method of using the screen as flash. This shenanigan has made the front-facing camera one of the best on the market.
The iPhone 6S features a non-removable 1715 mAh battery. Yes, you heard that right, the battery is actually smaller, a downgrade from the iPhone 6’s 1810mAh.
There have been complaints about the battery from the iPhone 6 and yeah, Apple didn’t quite addressed this issue. Anyway, the battery life averaged at 15 to 16 hours a day and there are a lot of people who need to recharge their iPhone 6S during the mid-afternoon.
It’s not like it isn’t understandable, the reason being the implementation of 3D Touch. The battery didn’t have enough space and they wanted to keep the same design as iPhone 6. Still, there are lots of smartphones that feature 4000mAh and battery life is usually a deciding factor for buyers.
Is iPhone 6S a great phone? Yes, it is. It does have its unique features and they promise a great deal in future updates. Is it worth upgrading over iPhone 5S? The users of iPhone 5S are the main target, the iPhone 6S being leagues ahead from all points of view (better camera, larger screen, better display, higher performance, a lot more stable).
But can Apple convince iPhone 6 users to upgrade to 6S? Maybe. Right now, the iPhone 6S doesn’t offer something revolutionary and it is pretty close to the iPhone 6, but it may be worth getting a taste of these early installments (like 3D Touch) ahead of everyone, before it gets widespread. And if you want to switch from Android or Windows or you’re just curious how iOS works, then the iPhone 6S is the best choice.
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Mark is a graduate in Computer Science, having gathered valuable experience over the years working in IT as a programmer. Mark is also the main tech writer for MBReviews.com, covering not only his passion, the networking devices, but also other cool electronic gadgets that you may find useful for your every day life.