iPhone 6s – Review

8 minute read

Introduction

The iPhone 6s. Almost identical on the outside but in fact, everything has changed. Welcome to the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. Both come in the same screen sizes (4.7-inch for the iPhone 6s and 5.5-inch for the iPhone 6s Plus) as the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus and believe it or not, the same capacity options as the iPhone 6, which means yet again, 16GB is an option.

This year though, we have a new colour to choose from, Rose Gold. Space Grey, Silver and Gold colours are still available. Some people simply say it’s a pink iPhone but I’ll let you decide on that. The prices remain the same, for a iPhone 6s, you’ll pay £539.00, £619.00 and £699.00 for 16GB, 64GB and 128GB respectively and for the iPhone 6s Plus you’ll pay £619.00, £699.00 and £789.00 for 16GB, 64GB and 128GB respectively.

Next, as I always do at the start of my reviews, the Geekbench 3 scores. The iPhone 6s scores a whopping 2490 for Single-Core and 4330 for Multi-Core. We need to do some comparisons here so we’ll use Samsung’s Galaxy S6 Edge which scores around 1320 for Single-Core and around 4405 for Multi-Core. Now, there’s not much of a difference between the Multi-Core scores but just take a look at the difference between the Single-Core scores. That’s outstanding. Something else I must point out is that the iPhone 6s has two cores while the Galaxy S6 Edge has eight cores.

Let’s do another comparison, this time comparing the iPhone 6s Plus to the iPhone 6 Plus. The iPhone 6s Plus scores around 2460 for Single-Core and around 4310 for Multi-Core while the iPhone 6 Plus scores around 1600 for Single-Core and around 2885 for Multi-Core. So as you can see from these two comparisons, the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus are the most powerful phones on the market. Finally, the iPhone 6s has 2GB of RAM. It all makes sense now why Apple took so long to bump up the RAM. They were hard at work optimising the phones’ performance and its certainly paid off.

Hardware

The iPhone 6s has an A9 chip and this year, the M9 chip is embedded. This has one major advantage. You can now activate Siri at anytime, by simply saying “Hey Siri” even when the phone is not on charge. The A9 chip is 70% faster in CPU performance and 90% faster in GPU performance. As a result, the iPhone 6s is very quick. I’ve noticed that games load much faster and everything in general is quicker and smoother. There’s also a second generation Touch ID sensor which Apple say is up to twice as fast, however, it isn’t. Touch ID is instantaneous now. If you simply tap the Home button it’ll unlock. It’s funny as some people wanted Touch ID to be quicker and now the same people are saying it’s too quick. For me though, I love it and although it’s not a new feature, in a way it is, simply because of the speed increase. There’s nothing Apple can possibly do with Touch ID anymore, the only thing left is to embed it into the screen itself and I think with iPhone 7, this will be the case.

For the first time in four years, the rear iSight camera has increased in megapixels. It’s now a 12-megapixel camera with the ability to record in 4K at 30 frames-per-second. You can still record in 1080p at 60 frames-per-second. As 4K hasn’t really taken off yet, this feature won’t be used by everyone but it’s nice to know it’s there if you need it. I prefer recording in 1080p anyway as the playback is smoother thanks to the 60 frames-per-second. Within the Photos & Camera setting under “Record Video” there is a bit of information as to how much memory 4K will take up. One minute of 4K video at 30 frames-per-second will take up 375MB while one minute of 1080p HD video at 60 frames-per-second will take up 200MB. As you can see, recording in 4K takes up almost twice as much space and as a result, 4K is disabled by default. Still exclusive to the Plus model is optical image stabilisation which is now available when taking video. Previously, it was only available when taking photos. The FaceTime camera has also had a big upgrade. It’s now a 5-megapixel camera (up from 1.2 megapixels) which includes Retina Flash to achieve perfectly lit photos. Instead of adding a flash to the front of the phone, a custom display chip drives the display to flash three times brighter than usual.

Design

We are on the “tock” phase* so if you put an iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s side-by-side, there’s hardly any difference but the iPhone 6s is actually taller, thicker and heavier. This is to accommodate 3D Touch and the harder material Apple have used for the housing. This year Apple have used 7000 Series aluminium (as opposed to 6000 Series aluminium) which is the strongest alloy ever used in an iPhone. The glass is also stronger and is the most durable in the smartphone industry. Add these two factors together and that’s why the iPhone is heavier. The slight increase in weight is actually welcome, it feels like you aren’t going to drop it every other time you pick it up. I would include 3D Touch in this section but it deserves its own, find out more below.

3D Touch

Welcome to the next generation of Multi-Touch. iPhone 6s was designed specifically to work with 3D Touch. 3D Touch is a pressure‑sensing technology that lets you get to the content you want simply by pressing the display. If you have an Apple Watch, you’ll know what I am talking about. On Apple Watch you can press deeper into the display to configure different settings and actions. However, with 3D Touch, there are three pressure points (hence the name). Of course you can simply tap the display but you can also apply different amounts of pressure which will result in achieving different actions.

3D Touch has multiple actions. Firstly, Peek and Pop. This will allow you to preview all kinds of content without having to open the app itself. If you like what you see, you can press deeper into the display and it’ll “pop” into the app. So as an example, if I got an email, I could “peek” by pressing firmly on the display and if I wanted to open Mail and view the whole email, I would press even harder and I’d be taken to the Mail app. Another example I have is viewing a website before you actually go there via Safari. If I had a URL link in Notes, I could “peek” to view the page without actually being in Safari. If I wanted to view the whole website, again, I’d press harder and Safari would open the corresponding page.

Next is Quick Actions. The majority of the Quick Actions work directly from the Home screen and allow you do the things you do most often faster and in fewer steps. Below is everything you can achieve with Quick Actions. Note: Third-party apps are already introducing 3D Touch to their apps. Instagram take full advantage as you can directly send a photo, search, view activity or create a new post. They’ve also added the ability to “peek” and “pop” directly within the app.

App Store & iTunes Store – Search or redeem
Calendar – Add a new event
Camera – Take a selfie, record video, record slo-mo or take a photo
Clock – Create a new alarm, start the stopwatch or start the timer
Contacts – Create a new contact
Find my Friends – Share your location
Find my iPhone – View your iCloud devices
Game Center – Send a friend request or view friend requests
iBooks – Search
Mail – Create a new message, search, view flagged messages or view all inboxes
Maps – Get directions to home, mark your location, send your location or search nearby
Messages – Create a new message or message the people you talk to most
Music – Play Beats 1, search or play the last song that was played
Notes – Create a new sketch, a new photo or a note
Phone – Create a new contact
Photos – View your most recent photos, view your favourites or search
Reminders – Add a new reminder
Safari – Show your reading list, show bookmarks, create a new private tab or create a new tab
Wallet – Add a card

Next is Live Photos, a brand new way to look at photography. You can set a Live Photo as your Lock screen wallpaper, press and watch it come alive. You can take your own Live Photo or use one of Apple’s built-in Live Photos. Live Photos is enabled by default and when taking a photo captures 1.5 seconds before and after you take the photo. Apple have stated that it’s not video, it’s a still image. Live Photos take up roughly twice as much space as a standard photo. You can turn off Live Photos permanently in Settings or turn it off in the Camera app for one photo at a time.

Finally, a few other features that 3D Touch offers. If you press firmly on the keyboard, it’ll transform into a trackpad and from here you can easily move the cursor and highlight text. This is a great feature. Before, if you wanted to highlight a word at the start of a sentence you have to press where you wanted to cursor to be positioned, click the word and then highlight the word. Enabling the trackpad saves so much time. Next, Multitasking. You can press the left side of the Home screen and swipe to the right to switch to Multitasking. If you do it in one swipe, it’ll open the last app you were using. Notes also takes advantage of 3D Touch. You can press lightly for finer lines or more deeply for thicker ones.

Connectivity/LTE

The iPhone 6s now has 4G LTE Advanced which supports up to 3000 Mbps and Wi-Fi which supports up to 866 Mbps. iPhone 6s also supports up to 23 LTE bands, the most in any smartphone for better worldwide roaming. There’s even faster wireless so you can make high quality calls which will sound crystal clear as if you were talking face to face. When you’re unable to get mobile service, Wi‑Fi calling provides an easy way to make and receive high quality calls.

My Opinion

What can I say? Firstly, who would of thought that we’d witness a faster phone than the iPhone 6. The iPhone 6s is a very quick phone. I love the faster Touch ID sensor and 3D Touch, so far, has been brilliant. I am still learning how to use it though. The two things I like most about 3D Touch is turning the keyboard into a trackpad and swiping on the screen to enable Multitasking. Live Photos are good but you have to press on the screen to activate them, they don’t come alive by themselves. This might change in an upcoming update however. I haven’t mentioned the battery so far, it’s actually a little bit smaller but thanks to the efficiency of the A9 chip you’ll get around the same battery life as the iPhone 6.

Conclusion

It’s pretty simple. The iPhone 6s is the best phone you can buy. Everything is new. The A9 chip is remarkable, 3D Touch is brilliant and will only get bigger and better when more third-party apps start to use it. I’ve mentioned it twice already but Touch ID is much faster and it’s very difficult to view the Lock screen now if you apply your finger on the Home button. Some people used to tap the Home button to view any notifications they might have received but now, that’s not possible, you either have to apply your finger at a weird angle so that Touch ID can’t read your fingerprint or simply use a finger that hasn’t been configured to unlock the phone. iOS 9 runs incredibly smooth on iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus and iOS 9.1 looks to improve the performance even more. If you have an iPhone 5s or below and upgrade to the iPhone 6s, you’ll be stunned by the performance. If you have an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, you won’t believe how much faster it is.

* The tick-tock phase was originally a model from Intel but Apple also use the model to resemble the yearly release of the iPhone’s. The “tick” phase resembles major changes externally and minor changes internally. So the iPhone 4, iPhone 5 and iPhone 6 fall under the “tick” phase as they were completely different from their predecessors. The “tock” phase resembles major changes internally and minor or next to no changes externally. So the iPhone 4s, iPhone 5s and the iPhone 6s fall under the “tock” phase.