Apple iPhone 6s And 6s Plus Preview: Sensory Overload

Apple's iPhone 6s Might Just Be A Masterpiece In Disguise

Apple has unveiled the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus at a special event in San Francisco.

While on the surface it looks as though the new smartphone is no different to its predecessor the iPhone 6, Apple has in fact done something of a magic act, hiding beneath the surface one of the best smartphones they've ever made.

Yet Apple seemed keen, almost desperate in fact, to show off that despite the current global downturn in the technology industry, the iPhone was powering ahead.

Slides showing huge growth in China while rivals suffered was the epitome of this, and while analysts might argue that a justification was necessary, the average punter isn't going to care. It's a new iPhone, it's better than the last one, and as such I'm going to buy it.

Having spent some time playing with Apple's new iPhone this conclusion is an accurate one. It is new, and while it does look the same, it is justifiably better than the iPhone 6.

Hold it in the hand though and you'll immediately wonder if it's worth the money to upgrade. The new iPhone 6s is in fact marginally thicker than the previous model and a tad heavier, not that you'll notice.

The phone feels identical to the 6 as well. Apple has in fact switched over to the same 7000 series aluminium that's used on the Apple Watch, so while it feels identical it should be more robust.

Things start to feel noticeably different however when you turn on the screen and unlock the phone.

3D Touch

Described by Jony Ive himself as 'the next generation of multi-touch', this new screen technology allows the iPhone to detect not just touch, but also how much pressure you apply to the screen.

First introduced on the Apple Watch as 'Force Touch', this new technology goes quite a bit further on the iPhone. It's intrinsically built into every part of iOS 9 allowing you to access shortcuts, 'peek' at emails and more.

Apple have outdone themselves with 3D Touch. It's so spectacularly easy to use that despite being a new technology, you almost wonder why it hasn't been present from the start.

In Messages for example, anything that's underlined can be 'Peeked'. See a flight number, just press down firmly on the flight number and your boarding card or flight information will just pop up in a window. See a date someone has sent you, a firm press brings up the calendar allowing you to quickly create an entry.

Thanks to the three forms of pressure you can then push harder still and it'll switch to the corresponding app you need by making the window fullscreen.

We tried out a few apps with it and in all of them it felt like a natural part of the user experience. If we're honest, it's going to be hard going back to a device that doesn't offer it.

Camera & Photos

Apple has given the rear-facing iSight camera a boost to 12MP. Apple's iPhone cameras have always managed to defy the numbers game, consistently showing that 8MP can still take better photos than even some standalone models so the shift up to 12 is hopefully a well considered one.

Using it the pictures seem to be noticeably sharp, however it'll be impossible to know for certain until we've had a proper play.

What that camera does do however is open up the possibility of 4K video recording, something which until now has eluded the iPhone.

We watched a few conveniently pre-recorded examples and unsurprisingly they looked excellent. Despite our cynicism the iPhone's video-recording has been consistently excellent on the iPhone 6 so we're not that worried.

Next up is Live Photos, a new feature which captures 1.5secs of moving pictures along with every photo you take. This short moving clip can then be set as either wallpaper on your iPhone or Apple Watch.

Apple's properly selling this as the future of photography and if we're honest, we're just not sold yet. We don't care how many times they say it's not a video, it's a picture. Sorry, it's a video.

HTC tried something similar last year and it didn't kick off even slightly. It's a neat trick and Apple's getting developers to take full advantage of it. For now we're remaining fully skeptical until we've spent some proper time spamming people with them. Only then can we know if Live Photos isn't just another buzz word for 'tiny video'.

Power & Battery Life

This is Apple's most powerful iPhone yet thanks to a new A9 processor. That power increase doesn't just help with speeding up the interface, it also makes the iPhone one of the most impressive mobile gaming platforms we've ever seen.

To help us get an understanding of just how graphically capable the 6s really is we tried out a game called Warhammer 40K Freeblade.

As you can see from the video the game runs incredibly smoothly while textures and animations have been given a significant boost. Of course high-end gaming might not be enough of a reason for you to upgrade and thankfully the A9's benefits go beyond just making Angry Birds look prettier.

The M8 motion coprocessor that gave previous iPhones their fitness tracking is now built into the new A9, giving the 6s some much needed efficiency.

Worth the upgrade?

If we have one concern it's storage. All these new features are going to to be so storage intensive that really, the only models you should even consider for the 6s are the 64GB or 128GB. Honestly we're even worried about the 64GB model, we have a 6 and that has filled up scarily quick thanks to an overabundance of pointless video-taking.

3D Touch feels impressive now and this is only the technology in its first iteration. Whether or not we'll be using it every single day will become apparent when we get some proper time with it.

Honestly though in the short time we've spent with the iPhone 6s this is the most significant leap on an 's' model we've ever seen.


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