On Wednesday, Apple unveiled the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. Like previous ‘S’ upgrades from Apple, the new iPhones are a serious upgrade in some department, while retaining the same design language as their predecessors.
Apple says that the only thing that has changed in the new iPhones is everything. Once you look at the complete internals of the device, you will realise that the company’s tagline is very appropriate here.
Below, we break down and describe in detail the different aspects and features of the new iPhones and what makes them special and better than their predecessor.
When it comes to design, the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus look exactly like their predecessor. However, Apple has further strengthened the integrity of the shell by using a new custom 7000 Series aluminum. This is the same grade of aluminum that is used in the aerospace industry and Apple says that the unique composition of elements makes it the strongest alloy they have ever used in an iPhone. This stronger aluminum should help in alleviating the bendgate issues on the new iPhones that plagued the iPhone 6 Plus when it launched last year.
The stronger shell and the addition of some new components on the motherboard like the Taptic Engine and the 3D Touch chip does make the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus slightly thicker, bigger, and heavier than their predecessors. The iPhone 6s is 0.2 mm taller, 0.1 mm wider, and 0.2 mm thicker than the iPhone 6. It is also 14 gms heavier compared to it.
As for the iPhone 6s Plus, it is 0.1 mm taller and wider, while gaining 0.2 mm in thickness and 20 gms in weight. You can find a complete breakdown of the specs of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus here.
The iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus come with a 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch Retina HD display with 3D Touch. While the size and resolution of the displays remain the same as their predecessors, the inclusion of 3D Touch allow the display on the new iPhones to detect a new dimension: pressure. Thanks to this new pressure sensing technology, the new iPhones come with gestures like Peek and Pop, and Quick Actions that can be used throughout the OS to speed up day-to-day tasks.
Apple did not talk much about the display on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus at the event, but it is likely that they will offer slight improvement in brightness and contrast levels compared to previous iPhones.
The glass protecting the displays on the new iPhones has also seen an upgrade, and is now stronger than ever. Apple even calls it the “world’s strongest smartphone glass.” The company has achieved this by using a special dual ion-exchange process, which makes these glass strong at a molecular level, and according to Apple, the most durable in the smartphone industry.
3D Touch is the most highlighted feature of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus and rightfully so. Apple calls 3D Touch the next generation multi touch and says it will completely change the way we use smartphones.
In a nutshell, 3D Touch allows the Retina HD displays on the new iPhones to detect pressure. By combining the pressure detected with other relevant information from the touch sensors, the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus are able to offer new gestures like Peek and Pop and Quick Actions.
Peek and Pop gestures will be available almost throughout iOS 9 and will allow you to quickly peek into content. For example, a light touch on a new email will open it up in a pop up view without actually opening the mail itself. You can lift your finger anytime from the screen to go back to your inbox in an instant. However, if you press a bit harder on the screen, the mail will open in the traditional full view mode. You will be able to feel the difference between a light press and a deep press thanks to the Taptic engine found inside the new iPhones. A light ‘peek’ press will be followed by a quick 10ms taptic feedback, while a deep ‘pop’ press will be followed by a 15ms long feedback.
You can read more about 3D Touch, how it works, and its use cases in iOS 9 here.
With every new iPhone, Apple also unveils a new generation A-series chipset. With the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, this new chipset is called A9. The 3rd generation 64-bit chip from Apple now comes with a new transistor architecture and is based on the 14nm FinFET fabrication process for lower power consumption. The dual core chip is now clocked at 1.85GHz, compared to the 1.3GHz clock speed of the A8 chip.
Apple says that it has optimised the A9 chip inside the new iPhones for real-world use, and that is up to 70 percent faster than the A8 in CPU related tasks. In the GPU department, the performance boost over the previous A-series chip is even greater at 90 percent. In fact, Apple is so confident of the CPU and GPU performance of the A9 chip that it calls them a “desktop-class CPU” and a “console-class GPU,” respectively.
Additionally, Apple has now integrated the M9 motion co-processor directly on the A9 chip, which allows for always-on ‘Hey Siri’ functionality without adversely affecting battery life, even when the display is switched off.
Second Generation Touch ID
Both iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus come with an integrated Touch ID fingerprint scanner on their home button. However, for the first time since its introduction on the iPhone 5s in 2013, Apple has upgraded the Touch ID sensor for better performance and reliability. The company says that the second-generation Touch ID sensor on the new iPhones will be up to 100 percent faster than before.
The fingerprint scanner is so fast that you will be able to unlock the new iPhones by placing your finger on the home button before the lock screen shows up.
The new iPhones come with a 12MP iSight camera, making it the first time since the launch of the iPhone 5 in 2012 that Apple has bumped the resolution of its iSight camera. The increase in resolution has led to a small decrease in the individual pixel size to 1.22u (from 1.5u), but the new “state-of-the-art sensor”, a new Image Signal Processor (ISP), and advanced pixel tone more than make up for it. Apple has also made sure that the increase in noise talk due to the increase in resolution is minimised.
Interestingly, the new iPhones still come with an f/2.2 aperture, while almost all high-end and mid-range Android devices have now started using an f/1.9 or f/1.8 lens. The use of a large aperture would have allowed the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus to deliver even better images in low-light, as the sensor could have absorbed more light. Nonetheless, the new sensor and ISP should help the new iPhones in shooting low-light images that are as good as some Android phones like Samsung Galaxy S6 and LG G4, if not better.
Besides bumping the camera resolution and introducing a new ISP, Apple has also added some new camera features on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. The first one is the ability to record videos in a staggering 4K resolution.
4K videos have 4x more pixels compared to a Full HD video, and are thus more detailed and sharp. You can also shoot pictures of up to 8MP in resolution while recording a video in 4K resolution. You can watch a 4K video shot from the iPhone 6s here.
Even better, Apple has enabled the use of Optical Image Stabilisation while recording videos on the iPhone 6s Plus, which should allow the handset to cancel out more of those jerks and shakes. The iPhone 6s still does not feature OIS, though.
Lastly, Apple is also introducing Live Photos with the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. Think of Live Photos as a short 3-second video clip, with the first 1.5-second shot before a picture was taken, and the second 1.5-second part being shot after. Live Photos essentially allow you to revisit the moments when you shot a particular picture. The feature requires no extra effort from the end user when they are shooting pictures.
Live Photos take advantage of 3D Touch on the new iPhones and can be viewed by tapping deeper on the screen when you are viewing an image. They can also be set as a lock screen wallpaper, where pressing deeper on them will make them play the recorded moment.
You can read more about the new camera features on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus here. Live Photos do have an adverse effect on the low-light image quality of the new iPhones, so it is recommended to turn it off when you are not shooting pictures in daylight.
In terms of connectivity, the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus feature improvements in two key areas: Wi-Fi and LTE. Apple had added support for Wi-Fi ac support in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and with the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, it is taking things a step further by increasing their speed to up to 866Mbps. This should make syncing the phone over Wi-Fi to iTunes significantly faster. Additionally, the handsets now feature LTE-A that allows for a maximum theoretical download speed of up to 300Mbps.
Apple has also added support for the 700Mhz band on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. T-Mobile had acquired the 700Mhz band from Verizon and has been aggressively expanding its network on it, so its inclusion will benefit all future iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus customers on T-Mobile.
Last but not the least, the new iPhones also feature Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity, making them among the very few smartphones in the market to do so.
Apple did not talk about the battery capacity and battery life of the new iPhones at its ‘Hey Siri’ event, but lists on their official spec sheet that they will offer the same amount of battery life as their predecessors. This is despite the new iPhones coming with a slightly smaller battery compared to previous iPhones.
While Apple did not announce the official battery capacity of the new iPhones at its launch event, it did accidentally reveal that the iPhone 6s comes with a 1715mAh battery in one of its videos for the product. This is slightly smaller than the 1810mAh battery that was found on the iPhone 6. The iPhone 6s Plus should also see a similar reduction in battery size, though its exact battery capacity is not yet known.
If the numbers from Apple are anything to go by, the iPhone 6s Plus will provide up to 24 hours of talk time on 3G, standby time of up to 16 days, and HD video playback for up to 14 hours on a single charge. On the iPhone 6, which comes with a significantly smaller battery, this figure drops down to 14 hours of talk time on 3G, standby time of up to 10 days, and HD video playback for up to 11 hours.
You can find a comparison of the battery life of the iPhones 6s and iPhone 6s Plus with previous generation iPhones here.
Every new release of iPhone is accompanied with a major release of iOS, and the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus are no different in this regard. Out of the box, the new iPhones will ship with iOS 9 that brings with it a number of new features and enhancements, including a re-designed app switcher, a smarter and more intelligent Siri, Proactive, a new Notes app, upgrades to Apple Pay, low power mode, and more.
You can learn more about the major features in iOS 9 by reading the articles below:
- The 10 best iOS 9 features
- New keyboard features in iOS 9
- Improved Notes app
- Improved battery life and all-new low power mode
- Improved Apple Pay
- Improved Security with six-digit passcodes
Storage, colors and availability
Just like before, Apple will be offering the new iPhones in three storage variants: 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB. It has, however, added a new color option to the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus called Rose Gold, whilst still offering the previous three colors: Space Gray, Silver, and Gold.
iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus go up for pre-order on September 12 and will hit the retail stores on September 25. The initial launch countries include Singapore, China, United Kingdom, United States, France, Australia, Spain, Netherlands, and more. You can find more details about their availability here. The devices will be making their way to more than 130 countries and over 400 carriers by the end of this year.
The prices of the new iPhones remain the same as their predecessor. The base model iPhone 6s will be available for $199 on a two-year contract, while the base model iPhone 6s Plus will be available for $299 on a two-year contract across all the major carriers.
|Contract Price||Unlocked Price|
|iPhone 6s (16GB)||$199||$649|
|iPhone 6s (64GB)||$299||$749|
|iPhone 6s (128GB)||$399||$849|
|iPhone 6s Plus (16GB)||$299||$749|
|iPhone 6s Plus (64GB)||$399||$849|
|iPhone 6s Plus (128GB)||$499||$949|
Additionally, Apple also announced its new iPhone Upgrade Program that will allow you to own an iPhone 6s for as low as $32 per month. You will be purchasing the handset directly through Apple and it will be unlocked, so you can use it on any carrier you wish to. It will also come with AppleCare+ protection plan pre-bundled.
You will also be entitled to upgrade to the new iPhone that Apple unveils every year. iPhone Upgrade Program will be available in the United States later this year through Apple’s retail stores.
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