The first batch of iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus reviews are out just days before the devices are scheduled to be available in retail stores and make their way to doorsteps of customers who had pre-ordered it.
So, how good are the new iPhones? Is 3D Touch a gimmick or is it actually useful? Is the 12MP camera with 4K video recording a huge upgrade over its predecessor? We roundup the reviews of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus from some of the major publications out there, which will hopefully answer all your questions.
Nilay Patel writing for The Verge says that while the new iPhones are stronger than their predecessor due to the use of their Series 7000 aluminium, they still feel like they are meant to be put in a case. He adds that the extra weight is a positive change since it makes the iPhone 6s easier to hold.
As for 3D Touch, he says that while it is impressive, it is very limited right now since it can only be used across the stock Apple apps, which is hardly used by power users.
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. It’s a feature that will be most useful to power users at first, and Apple’s apps and services are the weakest part of the iPhone if you’re a power user.
For the upgraded cameras, Nilay says that the jump in resolution for the front-facing FaceTime camera is the highlight. It allows the iPhone to go from taking pixelated selfies to actually taking usable selfies.
Let’s be real for a second: the front-facing camera upgrade to 5 megapixels from a paltry 1.2 on the iPhone 6 is the biggest news here. Selfies and Snapchats and video chats are part of the fabric of modern communication, and Apple’s been way behind the curve with its front-facing cameras. The improvement in quality from the iPhone 6 to 6S when using the front camera is just tremendous; it takes realistic and usable photos now, not just pixelated approximations of moments from the past.
The 12MP rear camera while impressive, is not that much better than the 8MP shooter on the iPhone 6.
The actual photos from the iPhone 6S aren’t dramatically better than the photos from the iPhone 6 — they’re better, but not so much intensely better than you’ll notice a difference if you’re just sharing them on Facebook. I noticed slightly better macro performance and slightly better bokeh in a few shots, but Apple’s been taking iPhone 6 photos and blowing them up to put on billboards for a year, so the bar is pretty damn high.
In the end, this is what Nilay had to say about the new iPhones or rather the iPhone 6s Plus specifically:
So I’m just going to put this out there, and then we can all handle the emotional consequences together: if you are thinking of buying a new phone, and you have anything older than an iPhone 6, you should buy an iPhone 6S Plus. It is the best iPhone ever made, and it is right now the best phone on the market. If you’re upgrading from an iPhone 5S or anything older, it will blow your mind. There just aren’t other companies that can roll out a feature like 3D Touch and make it work in a way that suggests the creation of entirely new interface paradigms, and every other phone maker needs to figure out exactly why Apple’s cameras are so consistent before they can really compete.
Joanna Stern starts her review of the new iPhones by saying that they don’t offer better battery life than their predecessor. While the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus managed to last longer in WSJ’s battery test, the increase is not something that makes a day-and-night difference. However, considering that the new iPhones come with a smaller battery capacity than their predecessors, it is impressive that they manage to deliver better battery life.
Strangely, although Apple says that the 6s Plus gets hours more battery life than the 6s, repeated testing on multiple devices reveals a slimmer difference. In a Web surfing test, the 6s on average lasted for 8 hours, while the 6s Plus went 20 minutes longer. In a video playback test, the difference was an hour.
Thanks to the A9 chip and 2GB RAM, the new iPhones are also significantly faster than older iPhones. Joanna says that exporting an HD video on the iPhone 6s was three times faster than the iPhone 6 and so was jumping through apps and browsing in Safari. The new Touch ID sensor is also extremely fast and unlocks the device almost as soon as you place your finger on the button.
She also praised 3D Touch and now finds the feature becoming a part of her muscle memory while using the iPhone.
Press hard on some app icons or other spots and you get quick access to shortcuts. I had to remind myself to use 3D Touch at first, but after two weeks, it’s becoming part of my iPhone muscle memory. In Mail, I now press hard on a message to preview it, then swipe left to delete. I love how you can hold down on a link to see a preview of the website, without leaving the app you’re in. Press harder and you can “pop” into that app. Third-party app support could make it even more useful.
As for Live Photos, Joanna says that it is the “absolute best” thing about the new iPhones since they are awesome at reliving the moment when you shot the photo.
While capturing a still photo, it also captures a bit of live action. They’re awesome for reliving fun moments, especially of an active puppy or child, and anyone with an iOS 9 iPhone or iPad can view them.
She concludes her review by saying that iPhone 6 owners have no reason to be jealous of iPhone 6s owners, though if you own any other older iPhone, the new iPhones are the one that you should get. Preferably with 64GB of storage space.
Mashable notes in its review that the new iPhones feel less slippery than the iPhone 6, which considering how slippery the old iPhones were, is a welcome change.
Although Apple tells us that the aluminum anodization process has remained the same, I couldn’t help but notice the sides of the iPhone 6S feel grippier and less slippery than the iPhone 6, which is great news for those of us who like to let our phones go naked. (I mean, half the fun of buying the gold or rose-gold iPhone is showing it off).
As for 3D Touch, the publication says that it makes the new iPhones feel like a tool for power users and is a serious productivity boost. The reviewer even calls it his favorite feature in the new iPhone.
This sort of functionality really makes the iPhone feel more like a power user’s tool, and it seriously speeds up productivity. Right now, most of Apple’s built-in apps support Quick Actions and third parties such as Pinterest and Dropbox are already available with support.
For me, 3D Touch is something that once you use, you won’t be able to stop. Going back to my iPhone 6 after spending time with 3D Touch on the iPhone 6S, I feel lost. I constantly want to Peek at links in Messages or preview photos.
He was also impressed with Live Photos, though he wishes that there was a way to share them with others and on the web.
I’ve found the most compelling Live Photos to be either those where there’s very subtle movement (think traffic or a waterfall) or quick movements from a person.
In the battery life department, Mashable review corroborates what the WSJ had to say about the battery life of the new iPhones. While the battery capacity of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus are smaller than their predecessor, they still last a tiny bit longer than them.
Christina Warren concludes her review by saying that the 3D Touch feature on the new iPhones can make even the most hardcore Android users consider it.
It feels trite to call the iPhone 6S the best iPhone yet — because, come on, it should be. But at the end of the day, I don’t want to go back to my iPhone 6. I want to take Live Photos. I want to use 3D Touch and I want to take advantage of the great new camera.
Writing for Buzzfeed, John Paczkowski says that Live Photos on the new iPhones is a great new feature. He even says that new parents should consider buying the iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus just for Live Photos alone.
I wish I had Live Photos of my daughters when they were babies. I wish I had a Live Photo of my wife that one time at the Dovre Club years ago when she was still only my girlfriend. I now have multiple Live Photos of my dog behaving like a dope, but I wish I had some from when he was an equally dopey puppy.
He also notes that the new FaceTime and iSight cameras capture more detail and take better pictures than their predecessor that is noticeable even to people who don’t have a photographer’s eye.
What matters is that the iPhone 6s selfie I took with my dog looks better than the one I shot with the 6. Is this because the iPhone 6s’s “True Tone flash” matched the ambient light around my dog and me to deliver more “true-to-life colors”? OK, sure. But again, I don’t care. What’s important here is that iPhone 6s dog selfie > iPhone 6 dog selfie. Also: 4K video sure is nice and crisp; I don’t have a 4K TV. I just want to be able to shoot good video with my phone, and I can.
However, John says that the above features in itself are not enough for him to consider the new iPhones. It is 3D Touch though that easily makes them worth buying.
It is surprisingly useful — particularly for power users who do a lot of work from their iPhones. I’m already using it constantly, and I am impressed with how good it is at interpreting the force of my touch. It’s very much an Apple innovation — a seemingly subtle change so thoughtfully executed that it proves transformative.
Surprisingly, John found the new Rose Gold color on the new iPhones ugly, though his wife and daughter disagrees with him on this point. He also notes that now that he was able to bring up Siri even when the device was sleeping, he found it more useful than before.
His review concludes just like other reviews: you should really consider buying the new iPhone.
So, yeah. It’s a great phone. You should probably buy it if you’re considering buying an iPhone. I probably shouldn’t, but I’m going to anyway.
Not a review, but popular YouTuber MKBHD has uploaded a video detailing his first impressions of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.
What do you think of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus based on the above reviews? Will you be buying one now? Drop in a comment below and let us know!