Review: iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus | iLounge

Review

Review: iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus

A-
Highly Recommended

Company: Apple

Models: iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus

MSRP: $649-$949

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Phil Dzikiy

Pros: Upgraded cameras bring higher-quality photos and video to the iPhone. Live Photos are a neat, new feature. 3D Touch display adds a new dimension to the user interface, which makes navigating the home screen easier and opens up a number of new possibilities within apps. The A9 processor and 2GB of RAM make for a faster overall experience. Touch ID is super-fast and easy. The new aluminum alloy feels a bit nicer to hold. Both 6s phones appear to fit well in the vast majority of 6 cases and many 6 Plus cases.

Cons: Battery life in the iPhone 6s takes a step back. 16GB models aren’t worth it; we consider the 64GB model a better option by far. A lack of third-party apps supporting 3D Touch thus far make the feature a bit limited at this time. The iPhone 6s speaker is a bit disappointing — and the smaller phone doesn’t have quite the feature set of the 6s Plus.

Though 3D Touch may get most of the love — and it is cool — the upgraded cameras on iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus will probably matter more to the most people. Both cameras get the bump up to a 12MP rear iSight camera from 8MP. The camera boasts improved noise reduction, improved local tone mapping, and larger panoramas — up to 63MP. Video recording can now be done in 4K at 30fps, and slo-mo supports 1080p at 120 fps or 720p at 240 fps. iPhone 6s Plus still has optical image stabilization — iPhone 6s still doesn’t — and also picks up optical image stabilization for video, cutting down on the shakiness effect.

Since the 6 and 6 Plus cameras were already very good, sometimes you’ll see differences between the past cameras and the newer cameras, and other times it won’t be so obvious. (Aside from the fact that the newer photos are, of course, larger in size.) Below we have two shots — iPhone 6s on the left, iPhone 6 on the right. We think there’s a bit more detail on the left, and the yellow/beige colors at the top of the wild grasses on the right seem a bit subdued and muted in comparison.

Below is a closer, more detailed comparison between the 6 Plus and 6s Plus camera. Zoomed in to show detail on tree bark, we see the 6s Plus camera on the top, and the 6 Plus on the bottom. Again, you can see more detail on the left. Now, for those who only care about social media photo sharing, this kind of detail may not matter so much now. But serious photographers will be pleased — and we’ve now reached a point where these cameras have ventured further into the “serious photography” zone.


The front camera finally gets an upgrade, too. iPhone no longer has an outdated 1.2MP FaceTime camera. In this selfie age, a 5MP camera is a most welcome upgrade. One could even argue Apple could have gone even further with this camera’s specs, but most won’t mind, as the upgrade is obvious. The FaceTime camera also now uses the whole screen as a flash. We’re still not crazy about iPhone flash photography in general, but there’s no doubt it’s an improvement.

Below, two shots from a selfie-taking cat: first from the 6s Plus, then the 6 Plus. The difference is clear, as the bottom photo clearly doesn’t compete. Selfie mavens will definitely see the difference in the 6s and 6s Plus.


There’s been much discussion about the new Live Photos feature — take a photo and a few moments of video are added before and after the shot. Press the photo and you’ll see that before-and-after glimpse. It’s a neat little trick meant to bring photos to life, as it were, and it’s easy to use (just remember to let the camera linger until the word “LIVE” disappears from the top of the screen). We think Live Photos is a cool feature, but we also think it’s best to use sparingly, in particularly active moments. Live Photo after Live Photo in one’s camera roll can be a bit much, not to mention that it takes up twice the space as a regular photo. Being able to use Live Photos as your iPhone’s wallpaper is another nice touch.


Video recording has also been upgraded with the new cameras, as the new iPhones offer playback zoom, more slo-mo options, and 4K video recording. 4K video quality is high, but at this point, considering the space it takes up, we don’t think it’s necessary for most video clips you’ll be filming. Those looking to do more serious video work will certainly be happy with the addition, however. We do wish there was an easier way to switch between video settings — you currently have to dip into Camera settings. Hopefully an iOS update will make it easier to switch between 720p, 1080p, and 4K.

It’s also worth noting that the iPhone 6s Plus is the only iPhone with optical image stabilization for video. We ran while filming, and the phone did a great job of keeping things steady. Active video users — or those filming particularly active subjects — will certainly appreciate this feature.

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Editors' Note: iLounge only reviews products in "final" form, but many companies now change their offerings - sometimes several times - after our reviews have been published. This iLounge article provides more information on this practice, known as revving.

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