The iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus are strikingly similar to the models that came before them, but the S iteration of the iPhone has always been about changes inside of the phone. On the outside there is the new rose-gold color option, a new aluminum alloy that Apple claims won’t face the same problems with bending the iPhone 6 had, and tougher glass. However there are several notable upgrades to the camera, screen and processor.
The largest change is what Apple dubs “3D Touch”, which is the same technology as the Force Touch found on the Apple Watch but with a fancier name. 3D Touch allows users to apply pressure to the screen to bring up various options. Think of the normal scroll and tap found of previous iPhones as the left click of a mouse and the applying pressure as the right-click. While demonstrating this new technology on frequently used apps such as Mail and Message, Apple execs used the term “peek and pop”. When viewing your ongoing conversations in Message or e-mails in Mail pressing down once will allow you to “peek” at the contents. Pressing down further will “pop” the message open for expanded viewing and reply options. Another example is when someone sends you a date or time, press down and you can view your schedule for that day and then lift your finger and it goes back to the previous screen. 3D touch seems to be used in almost every default application and even third party ones such as Instagram and Dropbox.
The iPhone 6S comes with the A9 chip which Apples claims is 70% faster at CPU tasks and 90% faster at GPU tasks than the A8 chip found in the iPhone 6. Also the M9 co-processor, which tracks motion for apps such as Activity and games, is embedded in the A9 chip meaning it is always on. The faster processor allows for less lag while playing games, which they tested with a new Warhammer game that they state was running at 60 frames per second.
The other notable update is the camera which now has 12 megapixels, 50% more than the non-S iPhone 6 models. While adding megapixels can bring down picture quality, Apple claims they were able to keep the same quality and the previews from the demo certainly seemed to back that up. Keeping with improving the quality of the images the 6S and 6S Plus can capture 4k video and edit it in iMovie on the iPhone. Finally the last change to the camera is actually to the pictures themselves. Photos can be turned into short movies with something called Live Photos. Unless you turn the option off your camera will capture the one and half seconds directly preceding and succeeding the photo you take. They will appear as normal photos but if you want to see the short clip you simply press down, another example of 3D Touch, and it will play.
There aren’t any radical changes to the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus but there are certainly enough to convince some iPhone fanatics they must upgrade. The 3D touch and “peek and pop” are interesting ideas that may take some time getting used to but may ultimately be a time-saver. The camera is important to keep updated because for some people that is the most used function of their phone and the pictures from the presentation were stunning. While there isn’t much visual difference the changes on the inside and with the camera are definitely noticeable.
We recently compared the iPhone 6 versus the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ and declared that Samsung wins by a narrow margin, but the new iPhone 6S Plus might be just enough to put Apple back in first place with the best smartphone phablet.