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iPhone 6S And iPhone 6S Plus: Best And Worst Features

Forbes logo Forbes 10-09-2015 Gordon Kelly, Contributor

So you’re interested in the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus and you understand the differences between them, but are there any deal breakers / deal makers in there? Let’s run down the very best and worst things about these new iPhones…

iPhone 6S (left), iPhone 6S Plus (right) in their new rose gold finish. Image credit Apple© Provided by Forbes iPhone 6S (left), iPhone 6S Plus (right) in their new rose gold finish. Image credit Apple

The Best

A New Control Method: 3D Touch

The only truly new feature of the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus is ‘3D Touch’. It works by detecting the pressure a user applies to the screen to open up new commands. Understandably its initial features are modest, but Apple is keen to keep it intuitive given iOS’s famous reputation for simplicity.

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3D Touch works through new hardware so there’s no way for older iPhones or iPads to get it. The beginning of an entirely new way to control your iPhones begins here.

Cameras / Video

In recent years iPhones have been king of the smartphone camera world through a seamless combination of quality and point-and-shoot simplicity. They lost that lead in 2015 to both LG (G4) and Samsung (S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+ and Note 5 – all use the same superior sensor) but the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus are back in the fight.

Read more – iPhone 6S Vs iPhone 6S Plus: The Differences Between Apple’s New iPhones

The new iPhones feature a rear camera which offers 50% increase in sensor size to 12 megapixels and a front camera with a 400% increase to 5MP. This brings the potential for photos with far more detail as well as 4K and 1080p video recording to the rear and front cameras respectively for the first time.

From a pure specification standpoint Apple’s 16 megapixel rivals still have the lead (and the iPhone 6S bizarrely lacks Optical Image Stabilisation – OIS), but Apple has always excelled at image processing so these new iPhones may reclaim the smartphone camera crown.

Finally Apple has increased sensor size to capture greater detail. Image credit Apple© Provided by Forbes Finally Apple has increased sensor size to capture greater detail. Image credit Apple

Superior Performance

If you own an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus chances are you have never considered it slow. Despite this the new iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus offer CPU and GPU increases of 70% and 90% respectively and (while unannounced) are expected to also jump to 2GB of RAM.

This is key as iOS 9 will bring enhanced multitasking features which only the new iPhones are expected to be able to handle.

In addition to this you can expect faster and more accurate performance for Touch ID on the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus as Apple makes a push to increase the popularity of Apple Pay now rival systems from Samsung and Google are appearing.

The new iPhones use stronger aluminium than the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Image credit Apple© Provided by Forbes The new iPhones use stronger aluminium than the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Image credit Apple

Read more – iPhone 6S And iPhone 6S Plus: Best And Worst Features

Durability

‘Bendgate’ was a viral phenomenon last year and Apple – while dismissing it at the time – has ensured there will be no repeat as the new iPhones are made from Series 7000 aluminium which is twice as strong as Series 6000 used in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

The end result is the new phones should resist bending at any pressures you’d expect to encounter in real world use. Yes, even when leaving the phone in your back pocket (a bad idea for pickpockets in any case).

So that’s the good stuff, but next the bad…

The Worst 

Same Flawed Design But Heavier

There is no disputing the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus are beautifully made and they also look pretty great. The problem is nothing has been done to improve their woeful ergonomics and design impracticalities.

As such the new iPhones are just as uncomfortable and slippery to hold as the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus and now they are heavier too. Leaks suggested only fractional weight gains for the new models, but increases of 14g and 20g for the iPhone 6S (143g) and iPhone 6S Plus (192g) respectively will be noticeable.

Given most users also buy cases for protection and greater grip, these are going to be heavy phones. For example, Samsung’s 5.7-inch Galaxy S6 Edge+ only weighs 153g.

Disappointing Battery Life

Yes battery capacities on the new iPhones have gone down, but Apple has actually managed to squeeze slightly more stamina from them. So why are they on the bad list?

Because the end result of getting more from less simply means the new iPhones offer exactly the same stamina as the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Which means Apple continues to refuse making the substantial improvements customers desperately want.

iPhone 6S and 6S Plus battery life offers no improvements to their predecessors. Image credit Apple© Provided by Forbes iPhone 6S and 6S Plus battery life offers no improvements to their predecessors. Image credit Apple

The iPhone 6S Plus is excused as the 6 Plus already has good battery life, but the iPhone 6 was nothing more than mediocre and as a result so is the iPhone 6S.

With Samsung also taking a step back with battery life in 2015, it has been a poor year for something which tops customer wish lists year after year. Will phone makers ever listen?

Read more – iPhone 6S And iPhone 6S Plus: 11 Important Changes To Know

Weak Charging

Of course a simple way to combat disappointing battery life is to offer fast charging or wireless charging and, to Samsung’s credit it did both. But unfortunately in this regard Apple remains in the dark ages.

Fast charging is almost ubiquitous on rival handsets and wireless charging is becoming increasingly common. For Apple to continue to ignore both is not only frustrating and it will become a genuine deal breaker for those coming from other handsets who are used to it.

Battery life has not improved and when drained by activities like gaming and 4K video recording, charge times remain slow. Image credit Apple© Provided by Forbes Battery life has not improved and when drained by activities like gaming and 4K video recording, charge times remain slow. Image credit Apple

Storage

Last year a common complaint about the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus was that the entry level model remained just 16GB despite the step up to 64GB and 128GB in the mid and top tier models.

If it was frustrating then, however, it is borderline cruel to once again keep the 16GB tier with the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus. Why? Because firstly falling storage prices mean 32GB flash storage is only fractionally more expensive these days than 16GB. And secondly because the increased camera and video resolutions mean 16GB will be filled far more quickly than on last year’s models.

As such the 16GB tier must be called out for what it is: a cynical attempt to force users to spend more on the 64GB version or pay for additional iCloud storage at a later date.

Improved front and rear cameras on the new iPhones look great, but they will fill the 16GB base models a lot quicker. Image credit Apple.© Provided by Forbes Improved front and rear cameras on the new iPhones look great, but they will fill the 16GB base models a lot quicker. Image credit Apple.

Read more – iPhone 6S Leaks Deliver Triple Bad News Blow

Same Old Same Old

Not everything about the iPhone 6S or iPhone 6S Plus is so polarising. Here are some other aspects which don’t deserve the criticism they have received:

Displays

3D Touch aside, there has been anger that the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus have not increased the native resolution of their displays to tackle the 2K and, in one case, 4K displays of their rivals.

This is a greater problem for the 750p iPhone 6S than the 1080p iPhone 6S Plus, but with PPIs (pixels per inch) still far higher than a 14-inch 4K television they remain perfectly good and I can’t see many owners complaining during day-to-day usage.

3D Touch could revolutionise iOS and make up for screen resolutions which lag behind the competition - Image credit: Apple: 3D Touch could revolutionise iOS and make up for screen resolutions which lag behind the competition – Image credit: Apple© Provided by Forbes 3D Touch could revolutionise iOS and make up for screen resolutions which lag behind the competition – Image credit: Apple

Cost

There is no price change for the new iPhones and with multi-year carrier contracts expected to fade in time with the full upfront cost placed on the customer, that may disappoint some.

I’d look at it differently. The upgraded A9 chipset, increased RAM, improved front and rear camera modules, next generation Touch ID and new 3D Touch components as well as the increased cost of a Series 7000 aluminium chassis have all been added without passing on any additional cost to the consumer.

Of course affordability is also something iPhones have never made a priority. They are aspirational products and if you want an iPhone you have to pay Apple’s prices. And having read this you should now be in a better position to know whether that’s something you’re prepared to do…

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