Such a Success
This year the new iPhone has been dubbed the iPhone 6s, much to my dismay (6s sounds like success and it’s annoying, not clever), and packs more than the usual punches. This review won’t be like some reviews where all new features are explained, I would like to share my candid opinion. If you wish to read A LOT of words about the new phones, check out Rene Ritchie’s review over at iMore.com.
I’ve had my iPhone 6s Plus since launch day and this year I’ve switched up the color. For the last two years I have opted with the stunning gold finish, but this year I’m going back to black! Even with my short time thus far, I have already come to like this year’s iPhone more than any in the past. It may look the same from a far, but if you get too close, this phone will change the way you think of smartphones.
You may remember my iPhone preview post where I talked about what might be releasing this year and if I counted correctly, I got mostly everything correct. The new features include better camera with higher megapixels, new 3D touch input method akin to Force Touch, faster Touch ID, and some other little stuff.
Let’s first talk about this new camera… Higher megapixels, it must be better right? Let’s not go down that rabbit hole, but no, not necessarily. Apple has finally increased the megapixel count in their latest camera but it seems to come with some tradeoffs. Pixel levels get blurry upon deep zoom and low light photography is not much better. This seems to be a new starting platform for better cameras to come down the road. It’s a great improvement on an already great smartphone camera, but I won’t be pawning my DSLR any time soon.
The iPhone 6s includes 4K video capture which is touted as four times the resolution as 1080P which all sound great until you want to watch this amazing video. Unless you already have a 4K capable TV, you probably won’t be able to watch your own video in the full resolution. Even if you have a 4K TV, you will struggle to find a way to watch your video. The upcoming Apple TV does not yet support 4K, outputting your new iPhone to HDMI doesn’t support 4K, and most Apple computers do not include 4K resolution. Two ways I have found to watch 4K videos are if you have a 5K Retina iMac or a recent MacBook Pro via HDMI to a 4K TV. This lessens the appeal of the advertised 4K video capability. The iPhone 6s only captures 4K video at 30 frames per second which is average at best. Your best video will come from the 1080P 60 frames per second video setting. This will give you a full HD smooth video and if you throw in the optical image stabilization on the iPhone 6s Plus, it’s a real video camera.
With the Apple Watch we saw a new way to interact with a device using Force Touch. Apple again pushes the envelope on the iPhone with 3D Touch. This allows you to ‘Peek’ at list items, then ‘Pop’ them into fullscreen by only using the pressure of your touch. This is the biggest feature of the new iPhone! This changes the way we will interact with touch screens forever. Much like multitouch on the first iPhone, 3D Touch will be here to stay for a long time, probably on non-Apple devices too. As of writing this, as with most new Apple features, 3D Touch isn’t widely available on 3rd party apps. Most Apple stock apps have 3D Touch features, but it will take time for everyone to truly realize how useful this is.
3D Touch pressure sensitivity can be adjusted and even turned off in Settings so it’s not likely there will be 3D Touch only functions within apps. This could cause the widespread adoption to suffer at first. Back when multitouch debuted, you had to pinch to zoom which made it a household gesture in today’s world. There’s nothing in iOS 9 that forces you to use 3D Touch other than live photos playback. If you were to turn off 3D Touch, not many people would be able to tell it’s a iPhone 6s other than that little ‘s’ on the back of the phone.
A revolutionary feature that debuted with the iPhone 5s got an upgrade in this year’s iPhone. Unlocking your device, paying with Apple Pay, and logging in to apps is now twice as fast as previous generations iPhones and iPads. Now when you click the home button to wake up your iPhone, it unlocks almost instantly. I’ve had to change the way I view notifications on my iPhone so that it doesn’t actually unlock the device and clear the notifications. I’ve compared the speed of the new Touch ID in a iPhone 6s Plus to the fingerprint scanner in a Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus and surprisingly, they are about the same speed. The only difference I noticed is the iPhone Touch ID fingerprint scanner is much more consistent. The Samsung S6 could not read my finger about 20-30% of the time whereas the iPhone read it 100% of the times. It will be nice to see where Apple can take this technology in the future, hopefully coming to Mac computers very soon.
Some other new features include the yearly processor upgrade, new aluminum exterior (7000 series), and increased RAM. This year Apple has created the A9 system on a chip processor and it’s a huge increase in both processes and graphics over last year’s A8. The benchmarks for the new A9 blow every other smartphone out of the water and is getting close to desktop class processors. This shows good promise for the future of Apple’s processors and also the longevity of the 6s models. There is no noticeable difference in the new 7000 series aluminum other than it feels a little more grippy on the outside. The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are slightly heavier than their last year counterparts, this is mainly due to the new sensors in the 3D Touch screen. The increase in RAM is a long time coming on iOS, but you notice right away it’s not yet fully utilized. Other than keeping Safari tabs live, there’s not much you can notice in iOS 9 that takes use of this expanded memory.
Benchmarks for the new A9 blow every other smartphone out of the water.
Why should you upgrade?
Most people who are on the fence ask me, “Why should I upgrade?”. This isn’t’ a question that comes with a straightforward answer. It really depends on where you are at in both your wireless contract and financials. If you really want a new phone and like all the new features, go ahead and upgrade. There’s not much anyone can say that will talk you out of it. If you have a iPhone 5s or older device, you should definitely upgrade. The new features and phone sizes bring so much that it’s a no brainer. If you like the phone you have and don’t want to spend the money on the new version, don’t upgrade, it’s that simple. There will always be a new phone next year.
New Ways to Pay
Now that you’ve decided to get the new iPhone 6s, you need to figure out how you are going to pay for it. If you currently own your phone you can always sell/trade it to help pay for your new one. You can get cash quickly from websites like Gazelle, but you could also maximize your return by selling to another person on eBay or Swappa. Once you have all or some of the money you can choose how to buy it. All the major carriers and now Apple have their own lease/loan type program that allows you to upgrade to a new iPhone every year. Regardless of your situation, there is now an option for you. I have no official opinion on any plan as this year I was still eligible for a carrier upgrade at a subsidized price. By the looks of it, the Apple iPhone upgrade program is the easiest and includes AppleCare+.
Now that the iPhone 6s has been released, we must look forward to the future because before you know it, we’ll be talking iPhone 7. From here we’ll obviously see the improvement of 3D Touch along with the possibility of higher resolution screens. There’s also a hint that the new iPhone could be more water/dust resistant as the iPhone 6s is better equipped against those harmful elements.
Now that we’ve come to the ninth iPhone generation, the pattern is ever so visible. New year, new iPhone, new options, new questions. If you are on the fence about this year’s iPhone, just know that this is the single most feature-rich upgrade in any iPhone since the original. This puts Apple in a great spot because droves of people will want to upgrade to this new phone, regardless of their contract situation. If I were scoring this iPhone on a 1 to 10 scale, it would come in at about a 9. Leaving room for improvement, but still the best smartphone I’ve ever seen. BB