iPhone 6s review

The Apple iPhone 6s is yet another strong product from the technology giant, continuing on the legacy of producing hugely popular smartphones in the market.

However, there is nothing dramatically different or better with this model, merely useful improvements on the previous versions. Apple’s slogan for this latest phone was “The only thing that’s changed is everything”, but I disagree.

Although it does come with a hefty price tag, it performs very fast and smoothly overall, with the main downside being its poor battery life.

    Pros

  • Quality materials
  • Performance
  • Well designed
  • Apple Pay

    Cons

  • Price
  • Battery life
  • Gimmicky Live photos
  • 3D Touch

    Rating

  • Performance:4 out of 5 stars
  • Features:4.5 out of 5 stars
  • Design: 3.5 out of 5 stars
  • Value:3 out of 5 stars
Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

What we think

The iPhone 6s is pretty much as we expected – a high quality smartphone, but with a high price tag. If you want to splash out on a new phone, especially one you can use comfortably with one hand, you won’t be disappointed with this one.

However, its battery life is disappointing, and for not much more money you could get a larger version (the 6s Plus), or even see about a Motorola equivalent.

Design

With a similar design to all of the iconic iPhones, especially the previous iPhone 6, the 6s is available in a silver, gold, space grey or rose gold colour, all of which are aesthetically pleasing.

It is a sleek, smooth and light phone (although it is slightly heavier than the last model, weighing 143g). If you want a phone you can comfortably use with one hand then this is a good option, and in this respect, it’s a point in its favour compared to the 6s Plus. The 6s measures 138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1mm (5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28 inches).

The screen is a 4.7 inch LED-backlit screen with a resolution of 750 x 1334 pixels, a resolution which lets it down compared to other models out there. There are many phones with 1080p resolution, for less money, overshadowing the 750p resolution of the 6s.

The screen is not as sharp as you would want, or quite frankly expect, from such an expensive and modern phone, which is disappointing, even though it is still a nice screen – we just expected better. Apple claims the glass is the strongest ever used in a phone though, which is impressive.

The buttons are as they normally are on iPhones, with the home button on the front at the bottom, the screen lock on the right side, and the volume controls on the left side.

The main camera is in the top left corner on the back of the phone, and the 3.5mm headphone jack is located on the bottom of the phone.

The back of the phone cannot be removed, something which I personally don’t really like, as it means you cannot access the battery. This is, it seems, becoming the norm for smartphones however.

Features

The big change with this phone is the addition of a feature called 3D Touch, which “senses how deeply you press the display, letting you do all kinds of essential things more quickly and simply,” according to Apple’s website.

This feature does indeed seem to work well, and is a welcome inclusion to the phone and how it operates. If you are on the home screen and touch an app with a certain amount of pressure, then it will give you several specific options.

Although the feature will take a while to get used to, once you master it you will appreciate this addition. You can ‘peek’ at content and ‘pop’ it into view if you press harder, making it quicker to move around the phone.

However, it remains to be seen how popular this feature really is, as not everyone will bother using it, especially if you aren’t particularly tech-savvy (there is no tutorial on how to use 3D Touch). For now, not many apps are really built for 3D Touch, so we may find it is not until later down the road that we see this feature really take off.

For the 6s, the voice-recognition system Siri is always on now, unless you manually turn it off. As someone who doesn’t really use voice features on phones much, I decided to switch Siri off, and didn’t feel I missed out at all.

When you buy this phone, it comes with a pair of free Apple earphones, which is quite nice as they are expensive to buy outright, especially as they aren’t great earphones.

Operating system

The 6s operating system is iOS 9, the first iPhone to come with this version from the get-go. It is the ninth version of Apple’s iOS mobile operating system, and focuses primarily on optimisations, as well as improvements to the battery, rather than introducing new features.

It is also meant to improve security with the device. Touch ID-enabled devices (where a fingerprint recognition feature is present) have new six-digit pass codes, up from four.

Apple Pay is also possible with this operating system, allowing users to pay for certain things using the app on their phone.

Camera

There is a 12MP camera located on the back of the smartphone, in the top left corner. As cameras on phones go, this is among the best, but it is not significantly ahead of the competition. Unfortunately there is no optical image stabilisation.

There is also a 5MP camera on the front which you can use for selfies and face-timing friends and relatives, which is fairly standard.

A new addition to the iPhone is Live Photos. This is where a 3Mb photo is taken, but the moments immediately preceding and following it are recorded too, with sound and movement being captured. These live photos can then be ‘played’ by tapping the photo.

Honestly, this feels like a gimmicky demo for the 3D Touch. The quality is quite poor, and it quickly becomes boring. Also, it can only be viewed on Apple devices anyway, so you can’t share them as much as you would want, and you may as well just take a short video.

You can also shoot 4K video with the 6s, which will take up 300Mb of storage space for every minute of footage.

Battery

Unfortunately, the non-removable Li-Po 1,715 mAh battery on this phone lets it down quite a lot. It doesn’t charge up as fast as other phones, and it doesn’t last as long as you would want it to.

I found with moderate use during the working day, it generally needed charging a bit before leaving work, to be sure of it lasting until I arrived home.

Even on a day when it was hardly used, the phone would drop down from 100% charge in the morning to roughly 30% at bedtime.

For those who use their phone a lot, you might want to look elsewhere for a longer-lasting phone which has similar capabilities. If you go on a night out, you may find the phone dies before you get home, which can be incredibly annoying.

Apple state that the HD video playback time is up to 11 hours, 14 hours for talk time, and 10 hours for internet use, approximately.

Memory and Processing

There are three options for memory space with this phone – 16Gb, 64Gb or 128Gb.

Obviously the more memory you have, the better, but you will also want to balance this out with the cost. 64Gb might be more than enough for you, so going for the 128Gb will be a waste of money.

There isn’t an option for expandable memory with this phone, however, so I would strongly recommend you do not get the 16GB version, which frankly will struggle to cope with the amount of memory space needed on a smartphone nowadays, especially one as advanced as the 6s.

The 6s uses a dual-core Apple A9 processor, and has 2GB of RAM. The phone’s speed is very quick and impressive, with few issues experienced.

Price

Upon release, the iPhone 6s cost £539 for 16Gb, £619 for 64Gb, or £699 for 128Gb, when bought outright.

Obviously these are high prices, as is the norm with Apple and their image as a luxury retailer. If you have the cash to splash then by all means go ahead, but if you have more of a budget then you would do better to look at alternatives from rivals such as Samsung and HTC.

Conclusion

On the whole, this is a very impressive smartphone, and if you don’t want one of the very large phablet sized phones currently on the market then this could be exactly what you want. The battery life is disappointing, but if we’re honest, all new smartphones seem to suffer from poor battery lives at the moment.

If you are on a bit of a budget, I would not recommend the 6s, but if you’re looking to treat yourself then you will be very happy with this purchase.

If Apple had managed to make the battery life last, it would easily be a major contender for the best smartphone available, although it doesn’t really improve all that much on the iPhone 6.

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