Five things to love about the new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, five to hate
My early impressions after a day with Apple's latest:
Five things to love about the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus
1. 3D Touch. A new, more sensitive display couples with iOS 9 to give you more options, depending on how hard you press on an icon. For example, when you push the Camera icon hard, options like "Take Selfie," "Take Video" and "Take Photo" appear on a drop-down menu. Similarly a new "peek and pop" feature lets you preview the contents of, say, an email and quick-response or filing options, or press harder again to go into the email proper. For now, 3D Touch options are mainly supported by Apple apps, but the API has been made available to third-parties and some like Instagram are already taking advantage of the new capability.
I feared 3D Touch would be like the over-complicated gimmicky interface features Samsung likes to overlay on Android, but it's pretty easy to get to grips with. Occasionally I have had to try a couple of times to select icons in the right manner to get them into "wobble" (move or delete) mode
2. Better cameras. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus already had the best cameras in smartphone land. The new "s" models boost megapixels (to 12 rear and five front) but also offer better HDR (for better photos at low light) and take advantage of the beefier processor to reduce (or Apple says eliminate) pixel noise.
3. 4K video. Some Androids already had 4K or Ultra HD video, now the new iPhones let you shoot video in 4K too. It looks brilliant, and you can zoom in on 4K footage as you play it back on your phone, or play two 4K clips at once. 4K TVs are increasingly cheap, so it's great to have the ability to shoot in 4K.
4. Snappier graphics. Apple says the new models' A9 processor and M9 motion processor are both nearly twice as fast as the A8 and M8 that powered their predecessors. The new oomph under the bonnet helps power that 4K video and better photo and video features (such as motion stablisation for time-lapse video). But it also means smoother transitions when you flip your 6s or 6s Plus from landscape to portrait (I found the 6 and 6 Plus sometimes took a beat to auto re-orientate).
5. Faster Touch ID. There was nothing wrong with Apple's fingerprint logon with the 6 and 6 Plus. It was fast and (unlike some rivals) reliable. But with the 6s and 6s Plus, it's instant. Magic. Great alternative to entering a PIN every time.
Apple has also released a new range of Lightning Docks ($95) for charging or easy connectivity to external speakers.
Five things to hate
1. The price. The iPhone 6s Plus is the best smartphone on the market, and the hippest — and Apple is milking that status for every cent. A top-spec iPhone 6s Plus costs $1799.
2. Poor badging/bragging rights. There is a fractional difference in size over the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus (0.1mm — too small to affect cases), but beyond that the 6s and 6s Plus are near-identical to their predecessors. The only way for friends and colleagues to now you've got one of the new models is this little "S" on the rear. Where is the snob value?
3. 4K video is a space hog. Sure it looks gorgeous, but 4K or Ultra High Definition video also takes up about 2GB of space per minute (4K is four times the resolution of HD - which means it's four times the file size). You could soon fill up your phone, and swamp your iCloud account. Mindful of this, Apple sets its new phones to HD video by default.
4. Battery life. There's no rated improvement over the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which like all modern smartphones can't last a full day with intensive use. Apple never promised any improvement with these S year models, still I lived in hope. Apple does say that iOS 9 (also available for older iPhones) boosts battery life by an hour with smarter power-saving measures.
5. No wireless charging. Samsung's latest Galaxy models feature fast charging (10 minutes gives you four hours' battery life) and an optional wireless charging pad option. Apple is still keeping its powder try on the wireless charging front. But imagine one day when you could get one wireless charging mat that you could plonk your iPhone, iPad, iPod and Watch on to recharge. Get busy, Tim ...
The iPhone 6s is available in gold, silver, space grey and the new rose gold metallic finishes for $1199 (16GB), $1399 (64GB) and NZ$1599 (128GB).
The iPhone 6s Plus is available in the same finishes for $1399 (16GB), $1599 (64GB) and $1799 (128GB).