The first reviews of Apple’s new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are in, with most critics giving them a mixed reception.
Some journalists are very taken with the new handsets, while others believe they aren’t worth the extra cash in comparison to their respective predecessors.
A new era of tech events has begun
We’re back in New York this November for the 4th edition of our growth-focused technology event.
Live photos, upgraded cameras and of course, 3D Touch, are the main features Apple is bringing to the table this time round. So far, Live photos appear to be hit and miss, 3D Touch is proving impressive and the cameras are a welcome change.
But who has time to read all the reviews? Not you, that’s for sure! We’ve scoured the internet so you don’t have to.
“[The iPhone 6s Plus] is the best iPhone ever made, and it is right now the best phone on the market.” – The Verge
Nilay Patel, Editor-in-chief of The Verge, has decidedly pegged the iPhone 6s Plus as the best phone on the market. He notes that he says the Plus, rather than the iPhone 6s because in a year or so, Patel reckons all of our phones will be plus-sized: “The future is here. You should face it with a gigantic screen.”
Regarding 3D Touch, he thinks it is fun but only really useful if you’re using Apple’s own apps for now as developers have yet to master how to utilize the pressure-sensitive interactions. He likened 3D Touch to the right click function on OS X – “the interface is designed to be used without it, but once you realize it’s there, it’s incredibly useful, and you want every app to make solid, consistent use of it.”
Walt Mossberg also did a review for his column on The Verge and found the 3D Touch function to be useful, although it took a few days to get used to. Mossberg noted that his favorite aspect is “…if you press down hard on the keyboard while writing or editing, it becomes a trackpad, for easy and precise cursor placement and text selection.”
“iPhone 6S is the most exciting S model for a long time.” – Pocket-lint
Over at Pocket-lint, Stuart Miles seems to have really fallen for Apple’s latest offering. Typically the ‘s’ models from Apple offer slight improvements and new features but Miles thinks the iPhone 6s has kicked this trend “delivering a phone that will offer plenty to iPhone users new and old alike, with 3D Touch a principle new feature that will lead iPhone functionality going forward.”
Interestingly, Miles reports that he found the new features, including 3D Touch, to have had no damaging effects on the battery life. That’s despite a 5 percent dip in battery capacity in comparison to the iPhone 6. He credits the longevity to the introduction of Low Power Mode, which is available to all phones running iOS 9. Miles reports that the iPhone 6s used only 15 percent battery with Low Power Mode turned on and the iPhone 6s Plus used 29 percent battery in 24 hours.
“3D Touch is likely the biggest innovation to the iPhone UI since the iPhone UI.” – Buzzfeed
Echoing The Verge and Pocket-lint, Buzzfeed’s John Paczkowski reckons 3D Touch is truly an innovation worth getting involved with.
Paczkowski’s review pegs it to be the transformative feature we’ve been waiting for. He describes it as “surprisingly useful” and admits to “already using it constantly.”
He also comments on what everyone wants to know – how long can the battery hold out before dying? Well, going by Buzzfeed’s review, you can use the iPhone 6s Plus for almost two days without needing to plug in. Paczkowski says, “I used the iPhone 6s Plus all day long doing all sorts of stuff with it, and forgot to charge it that night as I typically do. The following day, I again used it to do all manner of stuff; truthfully, I used the hell out of it. Then I plugged it into a car charger on my way home from work, because it occurred to me to do so — but I didn’t urgently need to.” Promising.
“3D Touch is a genuine innovation, and the [iPhone 6s] works fluidly at nearly every task – but it’s very similar to 2014’s model.” – TechRadar
TechRadar’s Gareth Beavis hasn’t had the same impression as The Verge, Buzzfeed and Pocket-lint though, he reckons you wouldn’t be missing out on too much by opting for the older iPhone 6 instead of the 6s.
He notes that while on paper, the improved structure, cameras, new interface and Live Photos sound great, the only thing that really struck him as an upgrade was 3D Touch. And sadly, the privilege of 3D Touch will cost your battery’s longevity, according to Beavis, so he doesn’t think it’s worth the buck.
“It would be wiser to hold off until the next version…” – The New York Times
Brian Chen of The New York Times didn’t get acquainted with 3D Touch as much as some other reviewers, despite two weeks of using both the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus.
“It was fun experimenting with 3D Touch, but I rarely felt compelled to use it. With my camera, my instinct continues to be to open the camera app by swiping up on the shortcut on the iPhone’s lock screen. When using email, I don’t bother to peek; I just open them.”
He did however praise the new Live Photos feature – “…there will be tiny moments in life where you would never have guessed you wanted to shoot a video, and now Live Photos has a chance to capture them.” Chen says that Live Photos quickly became an enjoyable and integral part of shooting photos on mobile for him.
He notes that you do need to get used to the new shooting mode first, as he learned after ruining several captures by putting the phone down too quickly afterwards. However, he says Apple is planning to fix this in a future update, so it’s nothing to worry about too much. Some other features he would like to see added to Live Photos are the ability to disable sound and more editing options. At the moment you can only make minor adjustments to the brightness and contrast and all Live Photos include audio.
“If your iPhone is more than two years old, this is the phone to get.” – The Wall Street Journal
While Joanna Stern thinks the iPhone 6s is the best iPhone yet, she also thinks it’s worth holding out for the next release if you already have an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus. Like Chen from The New York Times, Stern really fell for the Live Photos.
“The absolute best thing about the 6s is Live Photos… They’re awesome for reliving fun moments, especially of an active puppy or child,” she says.
One good thing Stern notes as well, is that anyone with iOS 9 can view the Live Photos, so it’s not futile to send them to friends and family using an older model. The only downside to them, as Stern notes, is that they take up more space than a regular still shot, but as long as you don’t go for the almost redundant 16GB, it’s fine.
Testing the batteries on both the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, Stern reports that the 6s lasted 8 hours and the 6s Plus lasted just 20 minutes longer when browsing the Web. In a video playback test however, the 6s Plus lasted a full hour longer than its smaller counterpart.
While that sounds pretty decent, it’s still no better (or worse) than both predecessors.
“The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus represent a new tempo for Apple.” – TechCrunch
Matthew Panzarino, Editor-in-chief at TechCrunch, thinks Apple has broken its ‘tick/tock’ release cycle with the latest handsets, saying “Competition is too fierce, the scope of Apple’s other ambitions is ever increasing, and with chip design in-house and clearly firing on all cylinders, the company has the resources and tools to introduce the most rapid refinements to the iPhone than ever before.”
His thoughts on 3D Touch: ‘It’s not the new right-click.’ Noting that he thinks comparing the two is too easy and not accurate, Panzarino says, “Right-click is about adding actions and complexity, a 3D Touch shortcut is about taking away actions and reducing complexity.”
And that’s exactly how he used it; cranking the sensitivity settings all the way up to detect even the lightest press, Panzarino says he found himself using the peek and pop functions more than other shortcuts – “Firing up a new email without having to even see my inbox, for instance, was a surprise productivity booster. Getting a message sent without having to wade through messages is sweet.”
He found the iPhone 6s to be similar to the iPhone 6 in terms of battery life, just as Apple spec’d it to be, saying “Going from a heavy day of email, shooting pictures of my kid, meetings at companies like Facebook, video at a baseball game and late night Slacking all felt roughly identical on the iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6s Plus. No appreciable difference.”
Overall, the general consensus seems to be that the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are solid upgrades, even for s models. The standout feature is clearly 3D Touch, with Live Photos coming in at a close second. The new features are slowly making the 16GB models seem more and more redundant though.
As always, opinions on battery life question are divided. New features will naturally use more power, but coupled with iOS 9‘s Low Power Mode, both the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus appear to last no longer or less than their predecessors, just as Apple intended.
Still unsure if you should take the plunge? Check out our 10 second guide to help you make up your mind.
The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus officially go on sale this Friday, starting from $649.
Image credits: Apple