“The only thing that has changed is everything” is what Apple’s marketing team says about this phone. The S models of the iPhone have proven to be great successors to their corresponding non-S models, and the same is true with the iPhone 6S. Nothing much has changed, really - the phone is just a bit taller, bit wider, bit thicker, there is ‘3D Touch’, ‘Taptic engine’, a new A9 chip (with #ChipGate), a 12 MP camera that can record 4K video, 2 GB RAM (all older phones had 1 gig, so don’t complain) and improved TouchID. Aesthetically, almost exactly the same. Internally, entirely different.
That is the thing. The S models are excellent upgrades because of ONE big, revolutionary reason. With the iPhone 3GS, we got a really fast processor, with the 4S came Siri, the 5S got us TouchID (that resulted in the popularity of fingerprint readers on phones) and the 6S - 3D Touch - a new dimension of interaction.
So what is 3D Touch? Unlike conventional phones, under the display of the iPhone 6S lies a panel of sensors that measure the distance between the cover-glass and the backlight with great accuracy. When you press hard into the screen, this distance reduces, and the sensors detect it. It is essentially a pressure sensitive display. You can press hard into the screen to perform an array of new functions. For example, from the home screen, certain apps can open a hidden menu. Inside an app, you can ‘peek’ and ‘pop’: peek to view something without actually opening it, like peeking into an email, and pop is to pop into (or open) the actual window itself (see images). A great example is in the messages app... when you receive a link, you press slightly into the screen to peek into the link, i.e. view the webpage without opening Safari, and when you press harder into the screen, you’ll actually end up popping into Safari. This integration is seamless across the iOS 9 operating system, proving, yet again, Apple’s outstanding ability to build software and hardware that are made for each other.
3D Touch for me is a welcome feature. I now complete reading all my junk email in seconds, don’t unnecessarily open up useless links, call the recent number without opening the phone app, take a selfie without clicking the ‘flip camera’ button, create live photos (I’ll tell you), and essentially peek into my entire Instagram activity without actually viewing any picture. And though nothing of this might sound significant, 3D Touch is going to change the way we all use our phones.
You see, 3D Touch is eventually going to be a game changer. Once developers start harnessing the power of this technology, it is going to be everywhere. 3D Touch has the potential to completely change the way we play games. You will be able to shoot faster in an FPS game by pressing the screen harder or access hidden menus/functions that doesn’t destroy the beauty of the game. Who knows what the possibilities are… But by next year, expect a lot, lot more from this technology.
There is more to the iPhone 6S that just this. The new TouchID sensor is so fast, you don’t even see a glimpse of the lock screen when you press the home button. Live photos is another feature that Apple stresses about: whenever you take a picture, the camera records 1.5 seconds of content before and after the shot, essentially capturing the moment. Later, when you view the photo in your camera roll, you can 3D Touch to view the tiny clip. If this same concept was first implemented in a Samsung or an HTC, it would be considered a gimmick. On the iPhone 6S though, it clearly isn’t. At least considering the amount of work they put into for developing this feature.
And like all S models, the iPhone 6S is one VERY FAST phone. Absolutely no lag, not even a jitter. Animations in iOS 9 are perfectly smooth. Heavy apps and games open in seconds. You can multitask like a god on this device. There is nothing about the performance that you can complain about.
Apart from 3D Touch, the greatest change in this iPhone are the new cameras. Apple finally moved to a 12 MP iSight camera from the 8 MP module found on the 5S and above. The biggest new feature of it is the ability to 4K video. The quality is super crispy, but without Optical Image Stabilisation on the 6S (the 6S Plus has it), it isn’t all that amazing. Apple also boasted that its A9 chip can even edit 4K video on the go. When it comes to pictures, you get amazing detail and true colour. It isn’t a huge jump from the iPhone 6 camera, but there is nothing you are losing out on. The front FaceTime camera is now 5 MP, and the phone uses its display as a front facing flash! This is possible only because of a new display driver that can brighten up the screen by three times to generate that intensity of light. This is called the ‘Retina Flash’ originating from ‘Retina Display’.
The iPhone 6S is definitely one of the best phones in the market. The phone did leave me gasping in awe at times, especially the beautiful new wallpapers that work with 3D Touch. With the iPhone 6S, Apple took the best out of their previous model and improved on them.
Is it worth paying upwards of $650 to buy this phone? Depends on what phone you are using. If you are upgrading from any iPhone before the iPhone 5S, this is an outstanding upgrade. For anything after that, I believe it is better to wait for the next generation of the iPhone. If you want to enter the iPhone arena and you do not want to pay so much, the iPhone 6 is still a great phone.
What makes the iPhone 6S unique is its incremental yet unbelievable upgrades. Having used many iPhones before, this new phone is nothing very new. There is 3D Touch and live photos and a new camera, but the simplicity of the iPhone still remains. An iPhone is, indeed, an iPhone.