The iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus are Apple’s latest-generation devices, adding to the company’s collection of well-crafted devices that started in 2007 under then CEO Steve Jobs. Apple’s product has made a lot of changes since 2007, adding 4G LTE at one point, fingerprint authentication technology in the iPhone 5s which changed the industry again and now, with the iPhone 6s, adding 3D Touch as a new way to engage the touchscreen. 3D Touch is touted as the next big thing in tech that will definitely change the smartphone market and how we use our devices, and Apple, having made multitouch the standard for smartphone interaction, is back to revolutionize smartphones once again.
Apple’s iPhones always please tech reviewers across the board, but do the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus provide that “mere iteration” feel this time around? Apple says that with its latest “S” phones, “the only thing that’s changed is everything.” To find out whether or not we agree with that promo statement, you’ll have to keep reading to find out.
iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus: Pros
The iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus have an additional GB of RAM this year, bringing the current devices up to 2GB of RAM as opposed to the 1GB of RAM in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The advantage of the additional 1GB of RAM will become obvious as you leave webpages and apps open in the task manager and retrieve them after they’ve sat idle for some time. Whereas the 1GB of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will cause the idle apps to reload each time you retrieve them, the webpages and apps on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus will load immediately, without a reload of any kind. Sure, most consumers don’t seem to mind page reloading, but tech-savvy individuals who are annoyed by page reloading will appreciate this improvement in the multitasking experience.
As always, more RAM also provides more webpages and apps that can sit idle in the task manager. This feat is made possible because Apple has purchased RAM from its Korean rival, Samsung, formally known as low-power double-data rate random access memory, or LPDDR4 RAM for short. DDR4 RAM, as opposed to the DDR3 RAM found in the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, provides a 35% power efficiency improvement over its predecessor. This means that battery life will have better endurance, at least in theory.
Faster 64-bit A9 processor and M9 motion coprocessor
Apple’s processor architecture has been one of the winning formulas for the company in recent years, and this year’s 64-bit A9 applications processor makes opening apps snappy and quick. The M9 motion coprocessor is called a “coprocessor,” but it’s essentially a third processor that relieves the main dual-core processor (the processor containing two cores) of added work and reduced battery life. With that said, the motion coprocessor comprises a third core for Apple’s A9 processor, meaning that the dual-core processor of years past is now a tri-core processor.
The 64-bit architecture Apple uses with its A9 intends to provide desktop-like performance on a smartphone, with 64-bit tech ushering in a whole new era in smartphone computing where it’ll be all too easy to see your smartphone as an ultimate PC in your pocket. Graphics-intensive games, alongside of ordinary tasks, will be delightful with the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.
If you want to see the impact of the A9 processor on basic iPhone 6s tasks, you can take a look at the chart above. In Geekbench 3 benchmark scores, the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus soundly defeat Samsung’s Galaxy S6 in basic tasks with over 2500 points in single-core tasks. In multi-core tasks that involve more than one core, however, Apple holds its own with over 4300 points, though the Galaxy S6 wins decisively with a multi-core score of 5,232 points. Even Samsung’s Galaxy S6 Active with US carrier AT&T gets over 5,100 points in multi-core tasks.
iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus Cameras: Live Photos, 5MP front, 12MP back, 4K video
Apple’s cameras have indeed changed this year, from an 8MP back camera to a 12MP camera; the front camera of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus have both progressed from the 1.2MP counts of yesteryear to 5MPs. Apple has also introduced a Live Photos feature that allows your videos to become GIFs on your lock screen. Parents who have children will find this feature to be a joy, as children will tap the screen again and again to see their movements. Children also enjoy seeing photos and videos of themselves, as I’ve witnessed with my 2.5-year-old niece, so the iPhone 6s is adult-tested but, at the very least, kid-approved.
4K video is a win for Apple, with videography becoming even better in this year’s models. Of course, most consumers may never use 4K video recording, as it drains not only your battery but your 16GB iPhone 6s storage model rather quickly. Still, the occasional video may not hurt.
As for camera performance, the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus have terrific front cameras, as it seems the 5MP cameras capture lots of detail. The same can be said for the 12MP camera, although the differences are slight in most cases. Unless you’re looking for the differences between the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s back cameras, you won’t notice much of a difference in terms of lighting (though detail may be another matter entirely).
Camera expert company DxOMark has given the iPhone 6s an overall score of 82, with the iPhone ranking in the high 80s (on a 100-point scale) for Color (83), Artifacts (85), and Flash (84), with 90+-point scores in Exposure and Contrast (90) and Autofocus (92). In videography, the iPhone 6s performed well in Exposure and Contrast (80), Color (86), Autofocus (87), Texture (82), and Artifacts (85), with the lowest score coming in stabilization (60). Optical image stabilization, should Apple ever bring it to the lower iPhone model (non-Plus), would improve this area significantly. While these scores are good, the iPhone 6s sits in tenth place on DxOMark’s chart, with Android rivals the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge (overall score of 86), Google Nexus 6P (84), LG G4 (83), Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (83), Motorola Moto X Style (83), and Sony Xperia Z5 (87), all beating Apple in terms of camera performance. Times have indeed changed for the fruit company in the mobile space.
Apple’s increased its aluminum grade in the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus from 6000 to 7000, making it tougher than ever and fending off future #bendgate scandals regarding the iPhone’s tendency to bend. The iPhone is no G Flex, that’s for sure.
Apple claimed that Bendgate only affected 9 people, but the company secretly kept a counter on Apple Store computers regarding the number of impacted customer – a sign that there were more than 9 (at least Apple feared there were more) customers whose iPhones would bend when placed in their side pants pocket for a period of a few hours.
The tougher aluminum ensures that the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus will remain durable over a two-year period, so most customers will be pleased with this stronger aluminum. This makes the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus two iPhone “S” models that will never be forgotten.
As always, OS updates are a major benefit, seeing that they kill software bugs that plagued users in previous updates. iOS 9 brings some new features that are sure to enhance your mobile experience.
One new feature, Low Power Mode, brings a bit more conservation to your iPhone’s battery life. As a feature planted well within the new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus software, you’re sure to use it. We’ve all been there, with our phones on 15% battery (with the typical warning) and wishing that we had access to a wall outlet of some kind. Low Power Mode isn’t going to give you leaps and bounds more in battery life, but Apple says you can expect an additional three hours of freedom before the fun stops.
3D Touch is the second feature of iOS 9 that will stand head and shoulders above many of Apple’s other improvements to its mobile operating system. 3D Touch essentially allows you to access in-app settings or preview a document or attachment without having to dive into an app or email to access them. It’s something akin to “shortcut settings,” and it works well for those who will use it. You can preview a document, then press a little harder to open up the email entirely, with the remaining background “blurring” out from the rest. It’s a different touchscreen action from the usual “tap to open” with which Apple has comforted its customers.
There are too many improvements to detail them all here, but it’s likely you’ll use Low Power Mode and 3D Touch more than anything else in the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.
So far, we’ve covered the good about the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. These two latest-generation devices from Apple are not only tougher and more durable than their predecessors, but they feature new interactive features like 3D Touch, which make you more productive, and Low Power Mode, which helps you “eke” out more battery than you ever imagined.
Apple says that “everything’s changed” with the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, but is that true? And, if so, has everything changed for the better? You won’t find the answers you seek until you head on over to our “iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus Review: The Only Thing That’s Changed Is Everything, Part 2: The Bad.”