What do you do when your smartphone meets its’ end. Well… after the initial shock and grief wears off. You replace it. Initially, I had no intention on purchasing a new phone this year. My 6 Plus handled all my daily tasks quite well. It didn’t operate sluggishly, battery life was phenomenal and it was still in pristine condition. So why would I change it now. Even faced with the new hardware and features of the iPhone 6s Plus I still didn’t find myself really wanting this new device. But that all came to a tragic end when my 6 Plus suffered an unfortunate and fatal accident in the street. My only recourse at this point other than being without a phone (which of course we all know that wasn’t going to happen) was to purchase a new one. So after several hours of checking in-store inventory online I found the one I was looking for and quickly reserved it for pickup.
Now having been in possession of an iPhone 6s Plus for a few weeks I’m starting to really understand why people are saying its so different. There are subtle changes such as the additional 20 grams of weight due to the extra components that make up the pressure sensing technology used for 3D Touch. Then there’s the much stronger 7000 series aluminum used for the casing. I was particularly interested in this because it’s been used in bicycle frames and parts for well over two decades which I’m particularly familiar with. So unless you are purposely looking to bend and or break it there should be no deformation issues from average everyday use. Although, I still say as with any phone, don’t keep it in your back pocket. Please.
Another notable change can be found in the home button. Along with it needing less pressure to operate, the fingerprint recognition in Touch ID is also improved with a second generation biometric sensor that’s faster and more accurate. After a few uses I see why some people are having difficulties adjusting to it. The sensor is activated almost simultaneous with the press of the home button unlocking the phone instantaneously without even a moment of delay. The only way around it is to either give the home button a very quick tap or simply use the power button.
The 6s Plus itself is also surprisingly fast with it’s dual-core processor running at 1.85Ghz even when compared to some current octo-core processors found in other smartphones. Apple’s custom SoC designs are second to none. While other manufactures have produced faster ARM processors they are also using more cores to accomplish the same tasks at the same speed as Apple’s dual-core processor. That aside, what I’m very pleased with is that the iPhone finally gets 2GB of LPDDR4 RAM. Nothing is nicer than a speedy processor but it means nothing when your web browser for example has to reload a page due to memory constraints or applications don’t have enough RAM to operate properly. Having the extra RAM is an added bonus to an already optimized system giving it the much needed room to breathe and perform to it’s fullest. Apple’s mastery of software and hardware optimization really shines through here.
Also getting a much needed upgrade is the front facing camera moving up to 5-megapixels. Mostly used for selfies, and video chat; images and video finally gets the clarity and crispness of a higher grade image sensor that they deserve. Which brings me to the upgraded rear camera which is now a 12-megapixel sensor at a 1.22 micron pixel size. Another good upgrade but in this case with Apple’s already excellent photo processing the improvements in picture quality is sometimes harder to see compared to the front camera. For the moment it seems the real benefit comes when you need to crop images because you’ll have a much larger canvas to work with on top getting a slightly better image.
I’ve been playing around with the new 3D Touch UI a lot and I must say it’s is quite nice. Although, I’m still getting use to it, it does add functionality that seems to go beyond what you can get from simple mouse clicks. Revealing options for applications by pressing on them or activating the task switcher by pressing on the upper left edge of the display seems a good way to be more interactive with the display while lessening finger movement and the use of the home button. I think as more applications incorporate 3D Touch the more it will become second nature to use.
The last thing I’m going to touch on is battery life because it’s one of those things that’s always important. If a phone can’t last long enough for your work or play day then it’s not worth putting up with no matter how rich a feature set it has. The iPhone 6s Plus has a slightly smaller battery than the 6 Plus weighing in at 2750mAh but battery life hasn’t suffered during my regular usage. I generally do a lot of writing and listening to music and podcasts and haven’t noticed battery life to be diminished due to the smaller size.
There are other changes in the 6s series as well such as the quad-core PowerVR GT7600 GPU, the new M9 co-processor, improved wireless radios and 23 cellular bands that should cover you just about anywhere. My decision to cover the points I did was based on what mattered in my every life and which is most likely what’s important to many others too. I’m really liking this S series and think it’s a worthwhile upgrade even from the 6 just a year ago. If mine hadn’t been trashed I wouldn’t have known what I was missing out on. The upgraded processor, co-processor, GPU, Touch ID sensor and 2GB of RAM really makes this a fast smartphone. 3D Touch is a new and nice way to interact with the phone and battery life is still excellent in my book. So if you’re on the fence my best advice is to check one out for yourself.