At the latest Apple event taking place on the 9th September, CEO Tim Cook announced pretty much what we were all expecting: a refreshed set of iPhones with a near identical exterior with the ‘S’ moniker slapped onto it. Cook gleefully announced that, “the only thing that has changed is everything,” which is typical of Apple’s ridiculously positive marketing approach, but also it’s evidently not true. This doesn’t mean that this next lot of updates to Apple’s flagship smartphones aren’t anything to shout about however: the incremental updates to the 6S and 6S Plus will be enough for some to merit the upgrade, but they’re not for everybody.
So the phones’ appearances are nothing new, but this is something we’ve come to expect ever since the iPhone 3GS was released in 2009. The key changes this time are under the hood, and perhaps won’t leave owners of last year’s vanilla 6 and 6 Plus rushing to their nearest genius bar. On the other hand, analysts still expect record sales in the phone’s release weekend.
But, as ‘S’ stood for speed back in 2009, this remains the same in this update. The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus comes packing a considerable spec upgrade in relation to the previous model: for the same price, you’ll be happily taking home a 12MP camera and new 3D Touch screen to compliment an overall speed boost from the new A9 chip. The last ‘S’ model (the iPhone 5S) was the first iPhone to come packing Touch ID after all, so this year’s refresh could be much bigger than you’d think.
The 3D Touch screen feature takes many cues from the Force Touch capability Apple have included in their latest MacBook laptops. Essentially, your shiny new phone will now be able to sense the amount of pressure you’re exerting on the screen and then the phone responds accordingly. In other words, you can now do different things with your phone with a slightly harder or lighter press, rather than tapping more buttons and taking more time to complete the same task. God we’re lazy aren’t we?
On top of a little haptic feedback (vibration) to let you know your 3D touch was successful, a key feature made possible is named ‘Peek and Pop’, sounding a little like the next show on the CBeebies schedule after Balamory. But, I digress, as it actually sounds quite handy. 3D Touch allows you to ‘Peek’ or preview your content (for instance an email or website) without opening it fully. Then, if you want to look more closely you ‘Pop’ or press the screen harder. Like Touch ID, such a seemingly small upgrade will make your life that bit easier, and will become second nature very quickly.
The other significant upgrade is the 12MP iSight camera. Made up with what Apple call ‘Focus Pixels’ alongside new state-of-the-art sensors and a new image signal processor. For the non-techy amongst you, that means it’ll make your photos much more prettiful, or you’ll be able to make out the goon photobombing you in Unit 1 slightly better.
More interesting, though, is ‘Live Photos’, which adds to your photos the opportunity for you to turn it into a type of GIF. When you take your snap, also captured is the sights and sounds of that moment. So, if you select ‘Live Photo’ you can replay that moment in a mini-video or GIF-like form. If you’re photo is especially good, you can even set it as your next snazzy lock screen.
Nevertheless, Apple won’t be releasing everything consumers might want at the moment. Unlike two years ago, there appears to be no answer to the budget 5C, a very popular phone that allowed new demographics to be welcomed into the Apple fold. What we have instead is a spruced up version of last year’s resident ‘phablet’ the iPhone 6S Plus. Those looking for a budget iPhone might be forced to stick with their 5S’ or find a used standard iPhone 6, and might feel a little alienated.
Also, increasingly iPhones are only the preserve of people with big monkey hands: both phones coming in at screen sizes of 4.7 and 5.5 inches respectively. People cursed with small hands holding out for a new phone and hoping for a more compact model will either have to deal with the pain (physically and when their phone inevitably slips out of their hands) or look at smaller phones like the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact.
While it is clearly not the case that, “the only thing that has changed is everything”, there is plenty here in the iPhone 6S/6S Plus for you to take the plunge and update your smartphone. However, as is the case with every ‘S’ update, there probably isn’t enough new for you here to update from last year’s models. But, for those who have waited out their 2 year contracts like the patient souls they are, or have waited even longer, you’ll be benefitting from a good range of hardware and software updates to make your purchase worthwhile.
Oh, yeah, and it’s also available in Rose Gold, just in case you forget your eyes on the way to the Apple Store.