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Apple iPhone 6s Plus preview

The biggest just got better

The Good

  • Great camera
  • Fast and slick
  • 3D Touch

The Bad

  • Unwieldy
  • Mediocre screen resolution

Just bought an iPhone 6 Plus? Sucks to be you -- Apple's released a new flagship. Here's our initial take on the new 6s Plus.

The iPhone 6s Plus is here. In this, we have a phone designed to be faster, more feature packed, and physically stronger than the model it replaces. But is it the flagship Apple's customers deserve, or a mere stopgap until the iPhone 7 rolls around?

Design

“The only thing that has changed with the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus is everything," say Apple's marketeers. They should probably have added “apart from the looks,” because aesthetically the iPhone 6s Plus is nearly identical to its predecessor.

What has changed is the fact it's now 20g heavier, 0.2mm thicker and the fact it's no longer made of bendy aluminium. The new model sports an aerospace-grade 7000 series aluminium construction, which should mean it's less susceptible to buckling when sat on, although the proof will be in the sitting. Here's hoping it's as tough as old boots – if it's not, then we should all probably start lobbying the aerospace industry to make planes out of something a bit tougher.

Screen

Those hoping for a resolution bump from the iPhone 6s Plus' display, or for a switch to OLED technology, will be disappointed to learn nothing's changed in this department. It still uses a Retina HD display running at regular old 1080p. It's by no means hideous, but some of its rivals now pack far more pixels into even smaller panels to great effect. 

That said, the screen now features Apple's new 3D Touch feature. This allows users to poke and prod the display or, in official Apple speak, 'peek and pop' to reveal and then access new features and information.

In Mail, for example, pushing lightly against an item in your list of messages will cause a preview, or 'peek', window to appear, showing you what's in the message without actually opening it. Release the screen and you'll return to the previous window. Pushing harder against the screen once in peek mode causes the message to open fully, or 'pop'.

Peek and pop also works in your text message lists, where you can push gently to get a quick preview of a message, or push harder to open it fully. 

It might sound like a throwaway feature, and the fact it works with so few apps is frustrating, but we see huge potential in it, particularly in gaming.

Cameras

Apple's improved the cameras on the iPhone 6s Plus significantly. Its selfie camera is now a much-improved 5 megapixels, which produces far more usable snaps than the 1.2-megapixel sensor on the previous model. It's even usable in low light, thanks to the fact the screen turns white, functioning as a makeshift flash in the dark.

The main camera, meanwhile, gets a bump from 5 megapixels to 12 megapixels. The difference is less noticeable than the upgrade to the selfie camera, but it captures plenty of nice detail and provides the flexibility to crop your photos without losing too much detail.

Apple has finally jumped on the 4K video bandwagon. We won't celebrate too hard, seeing as most of us don't have 4K televisions or monitors, but having the option of capturing higher resolution video is no bad thing. Unless you're interested in preserving battery life, of course, in which case we recommend you stick to recording visuals in 1080p.

Battery life

We've not yet had a chance to run thorough battery tests on the 6s Plus – those tests are ongoing -- but expect it to be better than the standard 6s, and worse than the old 6 Plus. Your own mileage will vary, of course, but there's enough juice there for a full day of use, although you'll want to charge it overnight if you want to make it to the office the next day with any juice. 

Speed bump

The iPhone 6 was no slouch, but the new A9 processor at the heart of the new 6s Plus, plus a reported RAM increase (you now get 2GB of RAM) means it's extremely zippy. Pages scroll more smoothly, apps respond with virtually no lag, and web pages load more smoothly. Usefully, the phone unlocks far more rapidly when using the new Touch ID fingerprint sensor – once you've mastered the motion, it'll unlock itself in a fraction of a second.

Outlook

Apple has moved the game forward with the iPhone 6s Plus. Its use of 3D Touch is particularly exciting – we can't wait to see what third-party app developers do with it. Its new cameras are also fantastic, improving significantly on what were already very respectable snappers. It's also faster, and generally slicker in day to day use. We'll reserve judgement until we've spent more time with the handset, but at the moment the 6s Plus is a fantastic top-tier handset that new buyers (if not 6 Plus upgraders) should definitely consider.

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