For the past three years, the most meaningful change lớn the iPhone has been the form size of its screen. After years of sticking with a 3.5-inch display & watching Android-powered competitors bite off a piece of the market with ever-larger screens, táo relented ever-so-slightly with the 4-inch iPhone 5 and 5S, and then finally gave in to lớn obvious trends with the much larger 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and massive 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus.

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Big screens are all people really wanted in a phone; when they couldn’t get big screens from Apple, they bought big screens from Samsung, và when apple finally put out big screens, Samsung’s sales tanked.

So now we have an iPhone with a big screen, with skyrocketing sales. There’s no obvious reason to make it better; almost every major competitor has actually put out multiple high-end phones this year in an effort lớn compete and it still hasn’t been enough. What’s Apple’s next move?

Turns out that the answer isn’t a taller or wider display — it’s a deeper one.

This is an S year for the iPhone, which means the basic physical thiết kế of the phone has remained the same while the internals have been substantially revised & made faster. S iPhones may lack the punch of a new design, but táo bị cắn says they actually sell better and last longer in the marketplace than non-S iPhones — these are the phones that stick around. This year there are also two changes lớn the exterior: the glass screen is now stronger và more shatter-resistant, & the case is made of a tougher aluminum that will presumably be less prone lớn bending.1

Last year we reviewed the iPhone 6 và 6 Plus separately — the notion of a giant iPhone was novel enough lớn warrant an independent review. A year later, and the novelty has worn off. The Plus-sized phone is very much just an iPhone with a bigger screen. The extra space allows for an optically stabilized camera that performs slightly better in low light và a more capacious battery, but there are few particularly notable apps or features that rely on the bigger screen, even though táo apple made kind of a big giảm giá khuyến mãi about it last year. Và there"s nothing in ios 9 or this refresh that affects the phones differently, so we"re reviewing them together this year.

These are welcome tweaks, but it’s too bad that the iPhone 6 kiến thiết remains Apple’s least elegant design since the plastic blob of the iPhone 3G & 3GS, thanks to lớn its slippery shape, camera bulge, & weird antenna lines. The 6S Plus feels particularly surfboard-y in comparison to lớn the Galaxy note 5, LG G4, & Moto X, which all manage large screens in less ungainly packages. You get your choice of silver, space gray, gold, and now a very pink rose gold iPhone, but it feels lượt thích these phones were designed to be put in cases no matter what color they are.

Both the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus are both tangibly heavier và thicker than their predecessors. If you’ve spent any time handling the older models you will feel the added heft. It’s nothing major — I actually think the extra weight makes the 6S feel more substantial and easier khổng lồ hold than the whoops-there-it-goes iPhone 6 — và what you get in return promises to 3d for it.


That extra weight comes from 3d Touch, which is the highlight feature of the iPhone 6S. 3d touch makes the iPhone screen pressure-sensitive, literally adding a new layer of interactions và information lớn iOS. The iPhone 6S is the third major táo apple product line to lớn gain pressure-sensitive touch after the táo Watch & MacBooks introduced Force Touch, và it is by far the most successful at integrating the feature into the natural flow of the interface.2

Also, how much better of a name is touch 3d than Force Touch? Force cảm ứng was the nadir of Apple"s stream of uninspired branding around the hãng apple Watch; we can only hope touch 3d overtakes it across Apple"s products in due time.

So what can you do? On the home screen, ứng dụng icons can show quick actions when you push them. Pushing on a calendar entry shows you more information about it, và pushing on a map pin lets you jump straight lớn directions. Pushing on a message in Mail opens a preview that you can slide lớn either side lớn delete or archive, & pushing harder opens the message. It"s the same in Safari: pushing lightly on a liên kết opens a preview, and pushing slightly harder actually opens the page.3

I would pay khổng lồ watch webcam footage of Apple"s designers debating whether to xuất hiện peek-and-pop Safari windows in the same tab or a different tab. Blood had to have been spilled.

That preview-and-open dynamic — what táo apple calls peek và pop — is really the key to 3d Touch. It does far more than just turning pixels into buttons — it turns them into dynamic objects. The entire system is the biggest step along a path Apple’s been on since tiện ích ios 7 — the idea that the interface should be about abstract layers of information, not simulations of physical objects. It’s not some insane lightning bolt of inspiration; Google is doing something very similar with Material Design, and Microsoft has been sliding things all over the screen since someone was drunk enough to approve the name “Windows Phone 7 Series.” But cảm ứng 3 chiều is by far the most aggressive and interesting step in this direction anyone has ever taken.


From a giải pháp công nghệ perspective, the main part of touch 3d is a network of sensors under the screen which track the distance between the cover glass and the backlight.4

Aside from the slight increase in weight và thickness, there’s no real difference from previous iPhones — screen overlays that follow Apple’s guidelines will work fine with 3 chiều Touch, and screen replacements will run $129 for the 6S & $149 for the 6S Plus, or $20 more expensive than the 6 and 6 Plus.

When you push down on the screen, the distance between them changes, và the phone can bởi things based on how hard you press, with precise bits of haptic feedback from Apple’s Taptic Engine vibration system. Apple won’t say exactly how many levels of pressure-sensitivity there are, but it’s definitely so many as to feel almost analog, like the interface is reacting in real time lớn physical pressure — the homescreen blurs in & out in response khổng lồ how hard you press on an icon, for instance. Perhaps most impressively, 3d touch has accessibility built in — it can be activated by Assistive Touch, blind users can have VoiceOver read peek previews và quick kích hoạt menus, and the force needed lớn activate it can be set to light, medium, or firm. This sort of impossibly tight integration of hardware and software is what hãng apple does best, and it is ridiculously impressive in action.

In actual use, though, it’s kind of easy to forget about 3d Touch, because only a selection of Apple’s apps tư vấn 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, & you want every app to make solid, consistent use of it. In that sense, cảm ứng 3 chiều 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 lớn power users at first, và Apple’s apps và services are the weakest part of the iPhone if you’re a nguồn user. Google’s Inbox and Microsoft’s Outlook are light years ahead of Apple’s Mail app, Sunrise and Fantastical are far superior lớn Calendar, và Google Maps still wipes the floor with táo khuyết Maps. If you’re lượt thích me và the first thing you vì chưng with a new iPhone is hide all of Apple’s apps away in a folder, it’s going to lớn be a minute before touch 3d really does anything for you.

That also means what touch 3d actually does in various apps will be all over the maps as developers try it out, because there aren’t a ton of rules for how anyone should use it outside of the peek & pop và quick action APIs. It’s a wild new interface paradigm with a ton of potential, và that means developers are going to lớn have to experiment before settling on a common language. I think that process is going to lớn be really fun, just lượt thích developers using multitouch for the first few years was really fun.

Even still, cảm ứng 3 chiều already feels much more natural than Force cảm ứng on the táo bị cắn Watch, & companies like Pinterest & Instagram & Dropbox are already showing off interesting demos. (I"m sure 3d Touch-enabled apps will be in the app Store the second the phone actually goes on sale.) và the potential for pressure-sensitive gaming is off the charts; touch 3d might make gaming on a iPhone something much more interesting than furiously swiping on the screen.5 There are a lot of things that have khổng lồ fall into place, but touch 3d overall feels lượt thích one of those ideas that only táo apple can push into the mainstream — if Samsung or Huawei had delivered a similar feature, it would almost certainly be a gimmick. But the foundation for cảm biến 3 chiều is solid và well-considered, và it’s easy khổng lồ see how the latent potential can turn into reality.


The only other changes to lớn the iPhone 6S really và truly worth discussing in detail are the cameras. I’ve been interested in switching to android for the better part of a year now, but there isn’t a single app android phone that consistently takes great photos the way the iPhone does. Some take great photos — the Galaxy S6 and chú ý 6, LG G4, and Sony Xperia Z4 all have excellent cameras — but it’s the consistency that matters. The iPhone takes excellent, realistic photos in virtually every situation, & no other phone comes close.

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So the new cameras on the iPhone 6S — a new 5-megapixel front-facing camera, and a 12-megapixel unit on the rear — are a big deal.6

Look for our full-on camera shootout between the new iPhones và the other flagship smartphones on the market later this week.

Let"s be real for a second: the front-facing camera upgrade lớn 5 megapixels from a paltry 1.2 on the iPhone 6 is the biggest news here. Selfies & Snapchats and đoạn phim chats are part of the fabric of modern communication, và Apple"s been way behind the curve with its front-facing cameras. The improvement in chất lượng from the iPhone 6 lớn 6S when using the front camera is just tremendous; it takes realistic & usable photos now, not just pixelated approximations of moments from the past.7

It would have been nice if the company had gone even farther; there"s a real argument lớn be made that the front & back cameras on any modern phone should be exactly the same.

Apple’s also taken a great idea from Snapchat and improved it with a feature called Retina Flash: the entire screen blinks trắng when you take a selfie in low light, serving as a makeshift flash. Apple says it’s tuned the screen backlight to lớn go three times brighter than normal when it’s flashing in this way, and it even looks at the màu sắc temperature of the scene lớn color-correct the screen flash in the same way the two-color LED flash on the rear of the phone works. It’s neat, và it works well. You will be the trùm cuối taking selfies with a flashing trắng screen in the bar, but you’ll be the boss with usable pictures the next day.

The resolution of the rear camera is now 12 megapixels, up from 8, và it can shoot 4K video. This is a pretty mild update. 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 khổng lồ put on billboards for a year, so the bar is pretty damn high. Let’s put it this way: the iPhone 6S is the best camera most people will ever own, but it’s not going lớn keep anyone out of the market for a mirrorless rig.


Apple CEO Tim Cook says he thinks Live Photos will be "a new form," but more people will have to be able to lớn watch them before they can blossom as an entire kind of media. Right now, you can chia sẻ Live Photos with anyone using quả táo 9, WatchOS 2, & OS X El Capitan. Táo apple also says it’ll put out an API to let Live Photos work in third-party apps & on the web (Instagram is already signed up), but I’m not really holding my breath for them to lớn take off. If you want to lớn record short videos, apps lượt thích Vine và Instagram already work great, and work everywhere, including game android phones.8

Actually, when you just dump the iPhone 6S camera roll lớn a Mac, Live Photos end up as a regular .jpg and a .mov tệp tin — they just get stitched together in game ios 9 so the .mov plays when you press on the .jpg. Clever!

And Live Photos take up double the space of regular photos, so having every single photo you take include a short clip seems lượt thích major overkill. I would play with it for a while then flip it off and turn it on when you need it. (It would be super rad if the iPhone intelligently turned Live Photos on when the camera detected a face in the scene and turned it off when it didn’t. I have too many Live Photos of whiteboards, and not enough of people.)

It shouldn"t be any surprise that 4K video clip looks great — it"s way higher resolution than what you"re used khổng lồ from a phone, và Apple is very proud of the fact that the iPhone’s A9 processor can vì all of its stabilization and processing magic while shooting 4K. It"s not a RED, but it"s not too shabby either. If you"re a đoạn phim nerd, you"re going lớn have fun with it — the 6S is even powerful enough lớn edit 4K đoạn clip in iMovie. But 4K clip isn"t actually turned on by default — you have to very deliberately flip it on. In fact, Apple"s taken resolution settings entirely out of the camera app & moved them into the Settings app, which seems awfully like the company doesn"t want people with the 16GB iPhone 6S to easily flip the clip camera to the 4K mode that eats up 375MB of space per minute.9 That"s probably fair, since most people don"t have 4K TVs or ultra high-res monitors, but between 4K đoạn clip and Live Photos that eat up double the space of regular photos, it would be better if the richest company in the world took a little loss on its profit margins & sold phones with a reasonable amount of base storage.

Once you’ve got 4K video recorded, there’s no particularly fast way to lớn get it on a 4K TV — Apple’s assumption is that people will just upload everything lớn YouTube và other đoạn phim sharing services. But you can plug your phone into your computer to grab files that way, & Lightning-to-HDMI cables that tư vấn 4K can’t be that far off.


tốc độ speed speed. Talking about the faster processor in an iPhone is a now yearly ritual — táo bị cắn dở loves to tout how insanely fast and powerful its A-line of chips has become, và the A9 in the iPhone 6S is no exception. Apple says it’s up khổng lồ twice as fast as the A8 in the iPhone 6, và it’s obviously the fastest iPhone I"ve ever used. Táo apple won"t confirm a specific increase in RAM, but the reported boost from 1GB lớn 2GB is pretty obvious once you start using the thing. Website pages in Safari reload less often, apps switch a little faster, & the entire phone feels lighter on its feet. Even TouchID has been improved for faster recognition — it"s fast enough to lớn recognize your fingerprint & unlock the phone in just about the time it takes to lớn click the home button & wake the phone up, which means it"s almost invisible if you get the motion down just right.10

Apple has been using the same TouchID sensor across all of its products since the iPhone 5S came out; this is the first new version.

But the relative speed of the newest iPhone is a tricky thing khổng lồ really talk about now — the major US carriers are all pushing payment programs that let you nâng cấp your phone every year or so, và now even Apple"s gotten into the set with its new iPhone tăng cấp Program. If you"re the sort of person who"s going to lớn actually take full advantage of the enormous amounts of power nguồn that the iPhone 6S offers, you"re probably the sort of person who"ll be upgrading to the newest most-powerful-iPhone-ever next year. And app developers still have to contend with the millions of older iPhones on the market, so few apps will really push the phone as hard as it can go.11

Of course, táo apple still sells the older models of its phones for a couple years after they debut, and there’s a big market for used and refurbished devices. It’s interesting how iPhones tend lớn float around for so long. Someone should track the complete story of a single phone from factory khổng lồ landfill one of these days.

It all adds up lớn what seems lượt thích a chất lượng inflection point in the history of computing: Apple’s shipping the most powerful processor ever in a smartphone, & it kind of doesn’t matter. The tăng cấp cycle has gotten so accelerated that by the time developers make full use of the A9, everyone who cares will have a much more powerful phone. That’s kind of crazy và wonderful; it speaks to Apple’s quality ability to lớn push cutting-edge technology out to a huge market in a fairly natural way.

We have a much more complete game ios 9 review here, but it’s worth taking a moment to talk through how it changes using the iPhone 6S. Quả táo 9 feels a lot lượt thích iOS 8 at first glance, but little changes lượt thích the revised reverse-chronological notifications, the much improved search, và always-on Hey Siri command all địa chỉ cửa hàng up into a seriously enhanced experience. Apple’s also clearly taken the time khổng lồ think through how to lớn streamline navigating between apps, making it easier to lớn flip between apps with breadcrumb links at the top of the screen, và creating a new (very Android-like) tiện ích switcher that seems like a huge mistake until you realize that pushing on the left edge of the 6S screen & swiping brings you back to a previous app. It’s great. It’s also too bad for anyone using an iPhone without a 3d touch display.

iOS 9 also offers Apple"s most comprehensive update to how the iPhone manages battery life. In my testing, I was routinely able to use the iPhone 6S for a full day under normal circumstances. And I could push even farther by turning on the new low nguồn mode, which cuts performance, minimizes animations, and turns screen brightness down. Of course, every new iPhone gets great battery life for the first few months and then starts lớn fade, so don’t get too excited. My guess is that the iPhone 6S won"t offer you a power experience wildly different than previous iPhones you might have owned and used in your particular life / work patterns. Táo bị cắn dở is very much just holding serve here, and if we’re going lớn eventually use our phones as our wallets và keys and everything else, they need to lớn start lasting much longer.12

Phones are now playing so many tricks khổng lồ extend battery life at the kết thúc of the range that it’s actually kind of hard to lớn run a straight battery chạy thử that means anything khổng lồ regular people. What does it mean for a phone to get 10 hours of website browsing battery life and 14 hours of talk time? Is that useful information? I don’t know anymore.

This is a weird year khổng lồ be reviewing an S iPhone, because this is the year that the two-year phone contract appears to lớn finally be dying out in favor of leasing programs that allow you lớn get a new phone every year. I know lots of people who are proudly on the S cycle, happy to lớn wait out the excitement of a new iPhone kiến thiết for the perfected và improved second edition. But Apple and the carriers are making it much easier for us to lớn all pay $27 a month for the rest of our lives to lớn get a new phone every year, obsoleting the entire notion of an S cycle. Now you’re just on the iPhone cycle, & it’s going khổng lồ be fascinating lớn watch that reality change how fast Apple and the rest of the industry change their products over time. It’s a new world.

So I’m just going khổng lồ put this out there, & then we can all handle the emotional consequences together: if you are thinking of buying a new phone, và 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 và 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.

Note that I said the 6S Plus, not the 6S. I am convinced that in another year or so every phone will be the form size of the 6S Plus, so if you’re going to jump in, just go all the way. You’ll get a slightly better camera & a little more battery life out of the giảm giá as well. The future is here. You should face it with a gigantic screen.

But if you have an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus & you’re not ready to lớn sign up for a yearly phone nâng cấp program, you might not feel the usual pull to lớn get a new iPhone unless you really want a better front-facing camera. The speed improvements are incremental, the battery life is about the same, and it’ll take a while for developers to lớn really make use of 3 chiều Touch. Và by the time that happens, it will probably be time to buy an iPhone 7.