Apple’s next-generation iPhone, launched September 25.
Apple announced its ninth-generation iPhones, the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus, at a media event in San Francisco, California on September 9, 2015. The iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus can be summed up beautifully with a single quote from Apple CEO Tim Cook: “While they may look familiar, we have changed everything about these new iPhones.”
Available with the same 4.7 and 5.5-inch Retina displays, the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus have the same exterior design as the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but much of the hardware inside, from the camera to the processor, is new and improved. Core technologies like the touchscreen and the vibration engine have been updated, and the new devices are even constructed from an entirely new material.
The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are made from a 7000 Series aluminum alloy, which is stronger and more durable than the 6000 series used in the previous-generation iPhones. Apple’s also updated the devices with stronger glass, made using a dual ion exchange process. One of the biggest changes is the introduction of a new aluminum finish in Rose Gold, which accompanies the traditional Silver, Space Gray, and Gold color options.
A new second-generation Touch ID module makes fingerprint detection twice as fast, and the 64-bit A9 processor in the two devices is 70 percent faster at CPU tasks and 90 percent faster at GPU tasks than the A8 processor in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. A built-in M9 motion coprocessor enables new features, such as always-on “Hey Siri” functionality.
With the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, Multi-Touch has been expanded to encompass a third dimension through a 3D Touch feature, and Apple is calling this “the future of Multi-Touch.” In addition to recognizing a tap, sensors in the iPhones can also recognize pressure, enabling a range of new shortcut gestures that Apple’s calling the “Peek” and “Pop.” A new Taptic Engine provides tactile feedback whenever the pressure-based gestures are used.
Most of Apple’s “S” year upgrades include camera improvements, and the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are no exception. Both devices have a 12-megapixel camera with some internal improvements to preserve color accuracy and speed up autofocus. The iPhone 6s Plus has Optical Image Stabilization, while the iPhone 6s does not.
With the improved camera, 4K video at 30 FPS is supported, and the iPhones can capture 63 megapixel panoramas. There’s a 5-megapixel front-facing FaceTime camera with a True Tone Retina Flash feature that lights up the display of the iPhone just before a photo is captured.
The most novel camera-based feature available for the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus is Live Photos, a feature that captures 1.5 seconds of movement before and after a photo is taken to display short animations and sound when a 3D Touch gesture is used on an image. Live Photos is designed to add a sense of vitality and life to still photos.
When it comes to connectivity, both LTE and Wi-Fi speeds have been improved. With LTE Advanced, LTE is twice as fast at up to 300 Mb/s, and 23 LTE bands are supported. Compared to the previous-generation iPhones, the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus are twice as fast when connected to Wi-Fi, with Wi-Fi speeds up to 866 Mb/s.
The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus became available for pre-order in the first wave of countries on Saturday, September 12 at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time, with an official launch taking place on Friday, September 25.
Apple sold 13 million iPhone 6s and 6s Plus units during launch weekend, beating iPhone 6 and 6 Plus launch sales in 2014, and setting a new opening weekend sales record.
Apple provided multiple publications with iPhone 6 and 6s Plus review units ahead of the device’s launch, and we’ve gathered excerpts from each site in order to highlight the general release reaction to Apple’s latest iOS devices.
Reviews have been largely positive, with most reviewers loving the 3D Touch and Live Photos features, plus the speed of the new iPhones and the updated 12-megapixel camera. The consensus is the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are a fantastic update for customers who use an iPhone 5s or older, but may not be as worth it for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus owners.
Jim Dalrymple of The Loop called the iPhone 6s the “strongest ‘S’ model phone Apple has ever released,” and highlighted 3D Touch as a favorite feature on the device. He also pointed out the faster Touch ID feature, saying it’s fast enough that it unlocks as soon as you tap to wake it up.
3D Touch is one of the handiest features that I’ve seen from Apple in a long time. It’s not just that it’s cool, it actually saves me time. It’s a new way to navigate the iPhone that’s quick, easy, and efficient. […]
3D Touch and Quick Actions are definitely something you will have to get used to. There are things we’re used to doing on the iPhone, like pressing on an app icon to delete it, that will take a bit of practice to get right. I had a difficult time tapping on an Apple Music playlist to bring up the menu–it would always go into “peek” mode for me. It took a couple of days, but I finally got my thumb to do it properly.
TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino highlighted processor performance and noted how useful the iPhone’s processing power is when combined with its ability to shoot 4K video.
4K video reel shot by TechCrunch
If you’re curious, the iPhone 6 Plus scored a 2716 in multi-core performance and 1517 in single-core score. The iPhone 6s Plus notched a blistering 2515/4367. The iPhone 6s scored similarly. […]
When Apple’s achievement with the A9 processor really starts to shine is when you realize that you can chop and edit these enormous video files in real-time right in iMovie. Or when you want to look at a bit of video closer and you pinch-to-zoom in and it’s playing back in crisp 1080p at a 4x zoom ratio right on the screen. This takes a mind-boggling amount of processing power, and Apple’s on-board chip is more than capable.
John Paczkowski of Buzzfeed was a fan of Live Photos, finding them to be more than just a gimmick. He also thought the iPhone was noticeably snappier than previous iPhones, and found that photos look “warmer, sharper, and more detailed.”
I was fully prepared to dismiss them as an S-year gimmick. But they’re actually quite compelling. Some are briefly humorous, others are totally worthless; but when you get a good one, it’s really something else. If I were a new parent, I would upgrade to the 6s for Live Photos alone. It’s a powerful feature, powerfully executed.
My daughters say Live Photos are a lot like the moving pictures in Harry Potter, and they’re not all that far off. Certainly, they make scrolling through photos on the iPhone playful, infinitely more interesting, and, on occasion, utterly fantastic.
YouTuber Marques Brownlee shared an unboxing and some first impressions on the iPhone 6s. He was a fan of the camera, which he said was super fast with natural, true to life images.
Sam Grobart of Bloomberg pointed out the incredibly fast A9 processor in the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, which significantly outperforms the A8 in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
We’re used to hearing that New Phone has a faster processor than Old Phone, but in this case, Apple’s A9 processor just screams with speed. Moving between apps is lightning fast. Fast-moving games are as smooth as Billy Dee Williams on a silk surfboard.
Yahoo Tech’s David Pogue got great photos from the iPhone 6s, but couldn’t tell much of a difference between images taken with the new phone and the older iPhone 6. He was a fan of the new front-facing selfie flash, which he said works “fantastically well.” Overall, though, he didn’t think it would be worth it to get an iPhone 6s if you have an iPhone 6.
Pogue’s iPhone 6 and 6s comparison images. iPhone 6 shot on the right.
I’ve been taking lots of pictures in lots of lighting situations with the iPhone 6 and 6s side-by-side, and I can’t tell any difference. Can you?
Now, it’s not a slam to say that photos taken with the 6s don’t look any better than those captured on an iPhone 6; the iPhone 6 camera was already among the best ever put into a phone. But you shouldn’t expect a leap forward in most of your shots.
The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern focused on battery life, pointing out that there’s no improvement between the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6.
The No. 1 thing people want in a smartphone is better battery life. And the iPhone 6s doesn’t deliver that.
The 4.7-inch 6s will get you through the day, but you’ll struggle to make it til bedtime with moderate to heavy use. And it seemed to drain even faster than my 6 when I used the new processor-intensive camera features like Live Photos.
The Verge’s Walt Mossberg called the iPhone 6s “the best phone on the market.” He found 3D Touch to be a fun and useful feature, but noted that it will take time for developers to build support for it into their apps.
In actual use, though, it’s kind of easy to forget about 3D Touch, because only a selection of Apple’s apps support it right now. It’s kind of like right click on OS X — the interface is designed to be used without it, but once you realize it’s there, it’s incredibly useful, and you want every app to make solid, consistent use of it. In that sense, 3D Touch won’t really be that useful or revolutionary until third parties really grab onto it.