Every year iPhone owners are faced with the same conundrum, ‘should I upgrade?’ Well, hopefully we can answer that for you right now.
The iPhone 6s does sport a different design to last year’s model, but unless you’re Mr Holmes himself, you’d be hard-pressed to spot the changes that have been made.
Aesthetically Apple’s simply repurposed the same design as that of the iPhone 6; a slim metal body with heavily rounded corners and sides, a small camera bump, pillowed surface glass on the front and of course, the singular home button. That’s by no means a criticism however as it’s still one of the most elegant looking smartphones out there.
Sadly there’s been no attempt to slim down those unsightly thick antenna break lines running across the metal back, but there is a new rose gold options that’s turning heads and we’re big fans of the addition.
Aside from the small ‘S’ scribed onto the newer iPhone’s back, there’s one notable difference that you can’t see. Whilst our iPhone 6 didn’t succumb to the woes of Bendgate, some user’s phones did and in an attempt to avoid any such repeat bad publicity, Apple’s strengthened the body of the 6s.
The main structure is now hewn from stronger 7000 series aluminium and the biggest problem areas of the 6’s body now posses a thicker internal structure. The 6s is also technically bigger than its predecessor, but we’re talking a matter of micrometres in all directions, so only accessories with the tightest of tolerance might not be fully compatible if you decide to upgrade.
Whilst the differences in design are slight, when it comes to the screens on these phones they’re non-existent. Apple’s stuck to its guns, giving you the same 4.7-inch Retina HD panel including its unorthodox 1334×750 resolution.
In practice it’s still a very beautiful screen, with accurate colours, low reflectivity, great overall brightness and the best viewing angles around, but beside the Android and Windows Phone rivals with their larger Full HD, 2K and in the case of the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium, 4K displays, it feels like it lags behind if it’s impact you’re after.
The iPhone 6 launched on iOS 8 but made the jump to iOS 9 just ahead of its successor’s arrival, so for the most part both phones feel like they’re on a level playing field.
Looking ahead, when Apple does decide to turn off the update tap for the iPhone 6, it’ll do so one year earlier than for the 6s, unsurprisingly giving you better future proofing by adopting the newer handset.
Whichever iPhone you favour, you can expect slick navigation, clear iconography and handy features like Siri Suggestions, which collate recommended apps, contacts and news stories in one place, as well as Apple Pay which has a massive lead on the mobile payment game in the UK against the likes of Android Pay and Samsung Pay.
The biggest differentiator is of course 3D Touch – a new ability facilitated but a specialised capacitor layer behind the 6s’s screen. Push pushing with greater force on app icons, links in emails and messages and more, you can call up a different set of behaviours, options or previews unavailable to the iPhone 6.
It’s an addition that’s certainly nice to have, but won’t show its value until next year when developers have had time to implement worthwhile functionality for the feature into their apps.
The 6s gets a faster 64-bit dual-core A9 processor and an additional 1GB of RAM compared to last year’s A8 chip, so performance is better across the board. You’ll only see a marginal boost in responsiveness throughout general UI navigation, but it has more of an impact in multi-tasking and intensive app usage including 3D gaming.
Connectivity is a tricky one to test, but support for 4G and WiFi speeds have also been doubled thanks to the new chipset, so theoretically, browsing and streaming on the 6s should feel faster in the long run.
One area where performance has remained level is battery longevity. General usage should see both iPhones last around a day, but the 6s actually packs a smaller cell than the 6 (1715mAh versus 1810mAh) as a result of the extra gubbins needed to make 3D Touch a reality.
Even if this does technically suggest the 6s’s innards are more power efficient, you won’t feel like it’s any better when you’re using it.
The iPhone 6 may have launched with some of the best smartphone cameras around, but an 8-megapixel rear shooter and a 1.2-megapixel front-facer in 2015 aren’t going to cut it against newer rival flagships.
Shots still looks great in most conditions, you’ve got some of the best slow-motion recording capabilities on a phone and the shutter is blazingly fast, but the resolution is easily the 6’s biggest shortcoming today.
Luckily the 6s brings 12 and 5-megapixel cameras to the back and front respectively, with unprecedented image quality that places the iPhone back amongst the top dogs in the smartphone camera space.
The shutter on the new iPhone is just as fast as last year’s, handles colour and contrast with great accuracy and thanks to the faster processor and higher resolution sensor now adds 4K video recording into the mix.
Whilst we weren’t expecting a complete redesign and are in fact thankful for the near identical form the 6s brings to the table, there are certainly a handful of tweaks that Apple could and should have made but didn’t, cosmetically at least.
Beyond that the company has ironed out the iPhone 6’s weakest attribute in its cameras and made everything from general performance to connectivity faster. The fact that you’re getting charged £539 for a phone with 16GB of storage in 2015 is particularly egregious, but that’s clearly a move to push potential iPhone 6s owners to fork out for a larger capacity version or more iCloud storage.
If you’re using an iPhone 6, provided you’re happy with the camera experience, there’s little reason to upgrade despite the improvements the 6S possesses on the inside. Instead save your money and buy a decent compact camera, simply hold off until next year or maybe even the year after, the 6 has still got plenty of life left in it.