iPhone 6s & iPhone 6s Plus Review: The One With 3D Touch…

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Apple’s iPhone 6 range caused quite a few upsets for longstanding iPhone users. For the first time in the iPhone’s history, you couldn’t get an iPhone with a 4in display. People weren’t happy. This is why we got the iPhone SE; it was an apology from Apple to its fans.

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Everybody has acclimatized now, however, and small phones like the iPhone SE are essentially a dead technology. But it was the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6s range initiated this change of the guards inside Apple’s ecosystem. So how do the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus shape up from the perspective of 2019?

Are they still worth a buy? They’re certainly cheap. But do they still got the mustard in today’s market? First, let’s take a look at how they compare and how they’re different. And the best way to do this is a table…

iPhone 6s vs iPhone 6s Plus – Specs & Features Compared

iPhone 6iPhone 6s Plus
Display: 4.7 inches (1,334 x 750 pixels)Display: 5.5 inches (1,920 x 1,080 pixels)
Dimensions: 5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28inDimensions: 6.23 x 3.07 x 0.29 in 
Storage Options: 16, 64, 128GB 16, 64, 128GBStorage Options: 16, 64, 128GB 16, 64, 128GB
CPU: A8 CPU: A9
RAM: 2GBRAM: 2GB
Camera: 12MP rear, 5MP frontCamera: 12MP rear, 5MP front
Battery Size: 1715 mAhBattery Size: 2750 mAh
Price: 
Price: 

Design

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Like the iPhone 6 range before it, Apple hardly touched the design of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. As the “S” name suggests, these handsets are incremental updates over what came before. Dimensions, screen size, and internal storage all remain the same.

Both feature a Home button too, a feature missing on ALL iPhones after the iPhone 8. This means you have things like TouchID instead of FACE ID and a clicky home button for navigation instead of gestures. Old school? Yes. But plenty of users prefer their iPhones with a home button – just look at how well the iPhone 8 still sells.

From an overall design perspective, there’s not really much to go on here; both phones look more or less identical to their predecessors. The iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus are slightly thicker than the iPhone 6 range, thanks to 3D Touch (more on that later). But to the average viewer, they are more or less impossible to tell apart.

Other improvements to the physical design of the iPhone 6s range, again, aren’t really visible. Apple made these handsets from 7000 Series Aluminium which, at the time, was the strongest material available. This update makes the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus more durable and less likely to bend if kept in your back pocket and sat on.

As for everything else, it is more or less exactly the same deal as before – clean lines, inch-perfect proportions, outstanding machining, and a thoroughly premium look and feel throughout. I do still like the “classic “ design language, I still like using TouchID, and I think, given just how cheap these phones now are, anyone looking to pick up an iPhone on the cheap would be remiss not to at least have a look at either the iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus.

Display

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The iPhone 6s features a 4.7in LCD 720p display. The iPhone 6s Plus has a larger, 5.5in LCD 1080p display. By 2019 standards, both are pretty low-grade. They still look OK, but compared to handsets like the Google Pixel 3a, which has an OLED display and costs only $399, they’re starting to show their age…

The iPhone 6s Plus is the one to go for here; its display is larger and has a higher resolution (1080p). For most users, this will be adequate enough for apps, web browsing, video, and gaming. I do feel as if the smaller iPhone 6s is a bit too antiquated now, given that you can pick up mid-range Android phones with QHD OLED panels for around the same price.

Where things get a little more interesting is Apple’s newly implemented 3D Touch. The iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus were the first iPhones to feature this technology and, as you might expect, it proved to be a very popular development inside the iPhone ecosystem. So what is 3D Touch? In its simplest form, 3D Touch is basically a third layer inside the iPhone 6s’ display that lets you poke “into” what’s being shown on the screen.

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Example: say you get an iMessage and it has a link inside it. With 3D Touch, you press on the link, holding it down, and a preview window will pop up, so you can quickly glean information about what the link is about. Apple calls this “peek and pop”, and it works across the entire iOS UX, as well as some third-party applications.

It takes a bit of getting used to, but once you’ve got the action stored in your muscle memory, you wonder how you ever lived without it. I find it invaluable. I use it in email, in IM, when browsing online – all the time, basically. But 3D Touch really comes into its own inside the Mail app; you can preview emails, delete emails, and achieve emails all without ever actually having to open them.

So while the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus’ displays might not match up to current standards, they do feature one of the most useful and innovative display technologies ever created. 3D Touch is a brilliant feature, one that really sets the iPhone 6s apart from the crowd and also its predecessor, the iPhone 6.

Performance

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When Apple releases a new iPhone, performance is never an issue. Several years later, however, things can start to change. Does Apple’s A9 chipset hold its own in 2019? For the most part, yes – it’s plenty powerful and is ideally suited for most tasks.

Is it as good as the company’s A10, A11, A12, and new A13 chipset? Lord no! It’s not even close. The difference is night and day, like a Porsche 911 compared to a Hyundai. But for most people, and tasks, the A9 is still match-ready. Case in point: my mum now uses my old iPhone 6s, has done for a few years, and she’s had zero problems with it.
There’s no lag, applications and web sites run quickly and smoothly, and iOS is as snappy as ever. It does pale in comparison to Apple’s new A13 chipset, obviously, but that’s kind of a given. What’s important to note here is that, even after several years of innovation, Apple’s A9 chipset can still hold its own in 2019.

Could you say the same for an Android phone released during this period? Probably not. This is the #1 reason why people stick with Apple: you can run its iPhones for years without ever really feeling like you’re missing out on performance. And that is why Apple is the #1 most-trusted phone brand on the planet.

Cameras

  • iPhone 6S Plus: 12-megapixel, phase detection, OIS, dual-LED ‘True Tone’ flash, 4K video, 1.2-megapixel front camera
  • iPhone 6S: 12-megapixel, phase detection, dual-LED ‘True Tone’ flash, 4K video, 1.2-megapixel front camera

It’s a similar story with the iPhone 6s’ camera as well. By 2019 standards, it is distinctly average. The 12MP sensor and integrated Optical Image Stabilization make it very easy to capture great-looking shots that are packed with detail. As a basic shooter, it’s fine. But where things start to fall apart, from the context of 2019, is its feature set – it just seems all too spartan.

There is no dual-lens system on the back, the iPhone 6s lacks OIS, and, as a result, is not as good. You can’t get the same level of detail and quality with the iPhone 6s. It’s still OK, but the iPhone 6s Plus’ camera is vastly superior. When Apple launched these phones, the camera was one of the biggest differences (and the main reason why it cost more).

OIS helps with video and makes low-light performance better. You need it, basically. And if your phone doesn’t have it, your captured images just won’t look as good. Post-iPhone 6s, OIS became a standard feature on all iPhone models, so if you want a smaller iPhone with OIS, maybe take a look at the iPhone 8.

If imaging is important to you, and you’re thinking about the iPhone 6s range, go with the iPhone 6s Plus. It is the superior handset in every conceivable way – from the display and battery life, to the camera performance and overall look and feel. Again, if you do want a smaller iPhone, forget the iPhone 6s entirely and look to the iPhone 7 and/or iPhone 8.

Battery Life

Again, the iPhone 6s Plus is the one to go for here. It has a larger battery that provides better performance. If you’re a heavy user, the iPhone 6s simply will not cut the mustard. The iPhone 6s Plus, however, will easily see you through an entire day’s worth of usage.

Despite ALL the technological advancements we’ve experienced over the years, a big battery is one of the most important things a phone can have. And because the iPhone 6s Plus is larger, it gets a bigger internal battery that provides excellent, all-day battery life.

If you’re a moderate to light user, the iPhone 6s will probably be fine. However, if you’re constantly checking email, social networks, gaming, and browsing online, you’ll simply run out of juice mid-way through the day. The battery inside the iPhone 6s just isn’t big enough for this kind of usage.

Is The iPhone 6s & iPhone 6s Plus Still Worth It?

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If you’re after a massive bargain and you don’t mind using older hardware, then, yes, there probably is a case to be made for buying an iPhone 6s Plus.

However, given that the iPhone 6s range is now four years old, you’re probably far better off going with the iPhone 7 or iPhone 8 – both are newer and still relatively cheap when compared to Apple’s current iPhone 11 range.

The main benefit of going with an older (but slightly newer) iPhone is value for money; these older iPhones are cheaper than current models (by as much as 60%) and they still perform brilliantly. This makes both the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus well worth a look, as they’re both now a lot cheaper than the iPhone 11 but will still get active support for Apple from years to come.

The iPhone 6s range, meanwhile, might not get the same kind of treatment. And you definitely DO NOT want to be running an iPhone that no longer gets iOS updates.

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