While most of us members of Camp Android would never be swayed by an iPhone, we still find it interesting to see what the competition delivers each year. Last year, Apple brought forth a pretty big change with the introduction of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, with both phones offering considerably larger displays than ever seen before in the world of Apple phones. This year, the changes are much more incremental.
Dubbed as the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, the newest additions to the iPhone family borrow the same design language as found in the original iPhone 6 series. In fact, the only real difference is the addition of a new color that was first seen with the Apple Watch. There are four color choices in total: silver, gold, space gray, and rose gold. While the outside might be largely unchanged, inside you’ll find several key improvements to the iPhone experience. Let’s jump in and take a look.
iPhone 6S and 6S Plus specs and software
At least on paper, the Android world offers considerably faster multi-core processors, plenty more RAM, and other hardware features that Apple has been slow to react to. Instead, Apple focuses on deep software optimization, which allows it to offer similar or arguably better performance with much more modest components. That said, Apple is finally making some changes that help close the spec gap a little.
First off, the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus both offer an Apple A9 chipset, which is said to boast 70% faster CPU performance and 90% GPU performance over the Apple A8. There is also believed to be 2GB of RAM according to the rumor mill, though Apple has yet to confirm the specifics here. For those into fingerprint scanners, Apple also promises double the speed with its 2nd-gen scanner.
The camera package is getting a sizable update this time around. Apple has always provided pretty high-end camera experiences, despite sticking to the 8MP standard, but with the new iPhone family we now see a 12MP camera that is capable of 4K recording. While it is hard to say how much better the camera is, Apple tends to do pretty well here, and we imagine the same story will apply with their new 12MP iSight cam. On the frontside you’ll find a 5MP front cam that promises a great selfie experience.
Beyond this, most of the spec improvements are fairly minor. The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus retain the same screen sizes and resolutions as their predecessors, at 4.7-inch with 720p and 5.5-inches with a 1080p display. No QHD or 4K here. One interesting new feature is 3D Touch, however.
Apple first offered Force Touch functionality with its Apple Watch and now they have rebranded it as 3D Touch, which allows the phone to distinguish between a deep press and a tap. As you can imagine, this opens up the door to new ways to navigate around your apps and the UI itself. On the homescreen, you can bring up shortcuts to the things you do most frequently, and you can even lightly press on your apps to get previews to the content or specific tasks within apps. Holding down longer can be used to pop into content, such as messages within an app, and the list goes on. We imagine there will be plenty of other interesting in-app uses for 3D Touch as well, dependent on how app developers decide to utilize it.
On the software front, the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus will arrive with iOS 9, which was first introduced at WDC this summer. The overall UI remains about the same as its predecessor, but the OS update does introduce new split-screen app modes for select devices, Apple Map improvements, a new “News” app, picture-in-picture video, Apple Pay improvements, and more.
iPhone 6S and 6S Plus price and availability
The iPhone 6S starts at $199 on contract for the 16GB model, with the larger iPhone 6S starting at $299 for the same storage configuration. The 64GB model brings the contract price up $100, and another $100 after that for the 128GB model. You can expect the latest phones to hit store shelves on September 25th, with pre-orders scheduled to begin on September 12th.
For those that prefer payment plans, Apple is also introducing a US-only program in its retail stores called the “iPhone Upgrade Program”. With this leasing program you can get a new iPhone each year, can choose your carrier and receive an unlocked phone, and the service inlcues AppleCare+. Pricing begins at $32 a month.
The new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus do not offer massive upgrades, even for existing Apple users, nor did we expect them to. The “S” entries are always incremental improvements, but Apple still made a few welcome improvements such as bolstering up the RAM and introducing 3D Touch to its phone family.
For Android users, there’s obviously little to see here. Everything that Apple presented has been available to us in one form or another for a while, and there’s still a lot missing from the iOS experience that most of us couldn’t live without. On the other hand, for Apple fans who skipped the iPhone 6 generation, the 6S and 6S Plus could provide compelling upgrade choices.
What do you think of Apple’s latest? Let us know what you think in the comments.