I got a chance of getting a hold on the brand new iPhone 6S recently and instantly feel how amazing the well-touted Apple product really is. Prior to this I have been using iPhone 5 and didn’t quite bother to upgrade my phone to the iPhone 6 (or iPhone 6 Plus for that matter) when it was released in September 2014.
I have been using my iPhone 5 for some years now and I genuinely love the phone but the battery life is a major set-back to the point that I sometimes feel like smashing it against the brick wall. The phone would just run out of battery without pre-warning and usually when you need it the most – for instance when you want to take a picture of an amazing street performance, or when you want to text a friend to meet up in a certain cafeteria – that’s when iPhone decided to ruin your day and mood.
iPhone 6S – A touch of class
Apple launched the iPhone 6S with the slogan: “The only Thing That’s Changed Is Everything”. Well Tom Cook may have put his spell of wonderful magic to the new iPhone but I remained reserved and sceptical in my judgement, not after I had a first hand experience with the phone myself.
3D Touch offers a new dimension to the display, in that you can push into the screen as well as swiping left and right. Already used on the Apple Watch and the new MacBook, applying pressure to certain icons and links will let you ‘peek’ and ‘pop’ through different apps.
Peek is a preview window – get a weblink or map directions in a text, and you can push it to get a little pop-up window with the info. Fancy having a closer look? An even harder push – which feels terrifying, as you’re sure it’s going to make those swirly rainbow patterns – will let you Pop into the app properly.
Perhaps you’re one of those people with thousands upon thousands of unopened emails that you’ll “get around to reading” one day. You can Peek at these and see if they’re worth the hassle – if not, let go of the screen and they’ll remain unread while you get back to your messy life.
3D Touch takes a while to get used to, but it does become intuitive (when you remember that the option’s there). However, when you poke your finger into the screen to get the preview, you’ll often find your digit obscuring the picture of Web page you’re trying to look at. This can drive some people berserk! But obviously I don’t really mind.
7000 Series Aluminium
[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”200″ size=”18″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]“The new iPhone 6S has a similar physical appearance and form compared to the iPhone 6 and apart from some features like Touch 3D and some improvements on camera and video, they are pretty much ‘identical’[/mks_pullquote]
Apple has made a big deal of the fact that the iPhone 6S is constructed from 7000 Series aluminium, which should make it strong enough to never endure another BendGate scenario. It’s impressive that this new material hasn’t added any weight to the phone! The phone is slightly thicker than the iPhone 6 but definitely slimmer compared to my old iPhone 5.
Compared to iPhone 6 though, the new S phone is pretty much ‘identical’ in physical form. In fact, with the display turned off, you’ll find it almost impossible to tell the difference between the 6 and 6S, apart from the small ‘S’ logo at the back. It’s hardly a surprise, given that this is the fourth time Apple has copied its own design in a ‘new phone’, but having the same screen, size and feel is rather underwhelming.
At least the iOS 9 is packing some nifty new tricks. Siri is closer to being an evil computer villain than ever before. No longer will you find yourself screaming, “NO, CALL MUM!” into your phone, only for it to initiate a Web search for ‘bum’ – the recognition accuracy is unerring. What’s more, Siri is now always quietly listening, so whenever you say “Hey Siri”, the phone will light up and ready for your vocal command.
The search section of iOS 9, a handy screen that sits either one swipe down from the Home screen or at the far right, is meant to be more intelligent too. Apple reckons it’ll work out which apps you use at certain times of the day and at certain locations, so if you always stream music while walking to work, Spotify will pop up.
The suggested apps are useful but feel more generic than targeted; unless the iPhone can read your minds, Apple is never going to be able to achieve what countless other brands have tried to do.
Being able to type in or say things like “Arsenal score” and get not only the full results but also relevant videos and news snippets is cool to say the least – this feels like the phone serving up really relevant content at the right time.
Other than the speed upgrade on TouchID, the rest of the iOS9 improvements are hidden in nooks and crannies throughout the phone. it’s still not perfect – you still need to drop out of the Camera app to make any changes to the settings, but on the whole there’s been loads of Apple-based slicker added.
The camera is another area that Apple has been hard at work improving, with the obvious change being the amount of pixels crammed into the sensor. We’ve now got 12MP on the back and 5MP on the front -and Apple has even tried to fake a flash by setting the screen to blindingly bright for a millisecond when you take a cheeky selfie in a dark club.
On the main camera, things haven’t really changed much beyond a slightly sharper raw image. While the photos are still excellent, full of colour and sharpness, they don’t leap out as a big shift forward – it feels more like Apple is chasing a higher number here for the sake of it. However, the new phone does have a new trick to show off: Live Photos.
The theory is simple: take a photo and the iPhone 6S will save a short 1.5-second video each side of the snap. The picture is locked away in the same resolution, but prod the screen hard and it’ll start moving with sound too, giving you the ‘memory’ of that moment.
Keen smartphone users will note that this is hardly a new idea, though. Nokia, Samsung and HTC have all tried to add video to photos over the years, with the latter even creating its own Zoe app to let users share their creations. Apple’s effort isn’t any better, with most of the Live Photos being juddery (especially in low light), unless you’re using a tripod or bracing the phone against something.
Apple has also jumped on the 4K bandwagon, bringing the super-sharp resolution into the mix for the first time. I don’t really want to say that Apple has “finally” done this because, well, it’s not really necessary, even for phones with QHD screens – let alone this 720p effort. Yes the video looks a little sharper on the screen but the result isn’t that much better unless you’ve got a top 4K TV.
What’s also interesting is that, for the first time in ages, Apple didn’t tout a longer battery life in the new iPhones. Usually, we’re treated to a diatribe on how much better this power pack is at internet browsing, movie watching and general standby, but this year that claim was absent.
The reason is obvious -the battery life on the 6S is no better than last year’s model although perhaps much better than iPhone 5. Nonetheless, with iOS 9, the battery management is meant to be slightly better with Apple finally putting in a low-battery mode to turn off unnecessary things like the always-on Siri to let you stretch your juice out just that little bit longer. It’s nowhere near the performance of something like the new Sony Xperia Z5, but it’s definitely more than passable.
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