Alongside its bigger brother, the iPhone 6S Plus, the iPhone 6S is now on sale. The problem is this also means Apple now sells no less than five different models of iPhone: the iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 5S. Upgrade decisions have never been more complicated…
So today I’m going to ignore phablets and look at your smartphone options to help you decide whether or not the iPhone 6S is worth the upgrade. To do this I’m lining the iPhone 6S up against the iPhone 6, iPhone 5S and iPhone 5. If you use an iPhone 4S or older, I would automatically suggest that a 4+ generation jump is worth the upgrade.
For everyone else, let’s start breaking things down…
Design And Size – Bigger, Heavier But Stronger
Despite many complaints, Apple has so far shown no interest in making another circa 4-inch iPhone. This means any potential iPhone 6S upgraders will have to accept a bigger handset. What’s more the iPhone 6S has put on a little more size and weight since the iPhone 6:
iPhone 5 – 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm (4.87 x 2.31 x 0.30 in), 112 g (3.95 oz)
iPhone 5S – 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm (4.87 x 2.31 x 0.30 in), 112g (3.95 oz)
iPhone 6 – 138.1 x 67 x 6.9mm (5.44 x 2.64 x 0.27 inches), 129g (4.55 oz)
iPhone 6S – 138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1mm (5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28in) and 143g (5.04 oz)
Let’s be real here: moving from an iPhone 6 to an iPhone 6S you aren’t likely to notice the size increases, but weight is a different issue. The iPhone 6S is over 10% heavier than the iPhone 6 and nearly 30% heavier than the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S.
For the latter group of upgraders in particular, this is potentially an issue. Apple has been criticised for not producing more compact designs and given the 5.7-inch Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ is just 10g (0.35 oz) heavier than the 4.7-inch iPhone 6S, it is easy to see why.
Couple this with Apple’s ongoing determination to make iPhones as slick and slippery as possible and it means you going to need a case with the iPhone 6S, which will again be heavier than a case for the 4-inch models. But unless Apple magically produces a new 4-inch model next year the only option will be to wait and see if a redesigned iPhone 7 makes more nips and tucks.
On the plus side, the iPhone 6S retains Apple’s outstanding build quality and this time it’s tougher than ever. Following the ‘Bendgate’ fiasco, the new iPhone 6S is constructed from Series 7000 Aluminium (used in aerospace) which makes it so much stronger than its predecessor that video evidence shows bends are a sign of the past.
Displays – Is 3D Touch Worth It?
Looking at the iPhone 6S display on paper nothing seems particularly revolutionary to what has come before:
iPhone 5 – 4 inch LED-backlit IPS LCD, 640 x 1136 pixels, 326 pixels per inch (ppi)
iPhone 5S – 4 inch LED-backlit IPS LCD, 640 x 1136 pixels, 326 ppi
iPhone 6 – 4.7 inch LED-backlit IPS LCD, 750 x 1334 pixels, 326 ppi
iPhone 6S – 4.7 inch LED-backlit IPS LCD, 750 x 1334 pixels, 326 ppi
Furthermore in comparison to many iPhone rivals using 2K (and even 4K) native resolutions the tech here looks positively dated. So as much as Apple has optimised the iPhone 6S display to be as good as it can be, it isn’t going to be ousting the likes of the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+ from their eye candy top spots.
That said the iPhone 6S display is ‘good enough’ and it features a potentially revolutionary feature: 3D Touch.
Quite frankly, if you’re in the market for the iPhone 6S, it is highly likely ‘3D Touch’ is one of the big reasons why. The science behind how it works isn’t radically new, but how Apple plans to integrate it into iOS 9 has the potential to change the smartphone landscape.
Positioned in addition to iOS’s recognition of short and long presses (also common to Android and Windows Phone), 3D Touch measures the pressure with which you touch the screen to bring up extra options. This has been compared to a right mouse click and Apple demonstrates this with its integration into core apps, such as:
Pressure touch to peak into emails in Mail
Pressure touch to jump to GPS navigation in Maps
Pressure touch the camera icon to jump straight into different modes
Pressure touch photos to view ‘Live Photos’
…and so forth. But the real 3D Touch benefits will only come when app makers (in particular games makers) hop aboard. Create some truly compelling examples in very popular titles and new iPhones will fly off the shelves even faster than anticipated.
But how realistic is this to happen? I’d suggest it is inevitable, but the bigger question is time. A handful of major apps like Dropbox, Instagram, Shazam are already aboard, but it will take much longer for smaller developers to adapt and caution will be expressed by some knowing usability must remain equally intact for older iPhones – which still make up the vast majority of users.
In short: 3D Touch is unlikely to come into its own until the iPhone 7, but that doesn’t mean eager upgraders won’t enjoy it over the next 12 months.