While it didn't come with enough unique software features to make full use of the large display up front, the iPhone 6 Plus was the litmus that showed both us and Apple that there's pretty big market for phablet-sized iPhones.
Just as we suspected, it seems that the "Apple iPhone 6 Plus" experiment has delivered more than satisfactory results for Cupertino. That's why we are totally not surprised that Apple today unveiled the iPhone 6s Plus
, the second generation of the supersized iPhone that is improved in a surprising number of ways. What got changed and what remained mostly the same? Let's find out!
Being a mid-cycle device, the iPhone 6s
Plus proudly boasts with the very same design language that debuted last year with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Apart from the slightly thicker body, the styling of the exterior is totally similar to the last generation's one. It's a bit thicker, though.
The new super-sized iPhone clocks in at 6.23 x 3.07 x 0.29 inches (158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm), whereas the 6 Plus is still a bit more compact at 6.22 x 3.06 x 0.28 inches (158.1 x 77.8 x 7.1 mm). That said, the 6s Plus substantially heavier than its predecessor - the new one tips the scales at 192gr, while the 2014 entrant weighs merely 172gr.
Apple iPhone 6s Plus
We still get an aluminum unibody with rounded edges on all sides that make the phone extremely comfortable to hold in hand, but this time around, Apple has opted for way sturdier aluminum alloy that aims to put the kibosh on any potential deformations of the chassis. Taking a page from the Apple Watch
Sport's book, the iPhone 6s Plus sturdier features Series 7000 aluminum. The glass at the front is also a tougher one. The 6s Plus will be available in four color options - silver, gray, gold, and rose gold (which is the new one); in the meantime, the 6 Plus offers merely three color options, silver, gray, and gold.
Apple iPhone 6 & iPhone 6 Plus
No surprises in the display size - both the 6s Plus and the 6 Plus come with 5.5-inch IPS LCD displays. There's no bump in the resolution department — we still have 1080 pixels on the horizontal axis and 1920 pixels on the vertical one. This is making up for a pixel
density of 401ppi. Although not perfect, both the 6 and the 6 Plus have two of the more accurate LCD displays around, with very close to excellent contrast, gamma, brightness, color temperature, and accuracy. Although we can't be certain just yet, we suppose that the 6s Plus is mostly similar to the 6 Plus in terms of properties.
Here's are our thoughts on the iPhone 6 Plus' display: Beyond the resolution, the panel is also remarkable for its other impressive qualities. First, the IPS LCD display conjures up a maximum brightness output of 574 nits, enabling its screen to shine brightly under direct sunlight. In comparison to other notable phablets, the screen that’s present here is undoubtedly brighter. Colors are nicely reproduced too, which has been a characteristic of nearly all iPhones. However, color temperature is rather cool at 7300K, not as close to the 6500K reference as we would like.
Naturally, the size alone is something unprecedented for Apple. Directly comparing the display of the iPhone 6 plus to its sibling in the iPhone 6, we do notice that the latter has the stronger brightness output and superior color accuracy. Versus the rest of the competition, however, the 5.5-inch 1080p Retina Display is hardly ground shaking, but we can’t complain either because of its alluring properties of being high quality.
Display measurements and quality
Interface and functionality
On the interface front, there are few differences. Both devices are running the latest version of iOS, which brings a large host of major and not-so-major improvement to the platform: there are multiple updates to Siri, which is now proactive and smarter than before, improved Spotlight search, multitasking for select iPads, and battery-friendly Low Power mode.
Additionally, Apple Maps and Apple Notes got enhanced with many new features and UI improvements, better security, and a revamped app switcher. We also have live wallpapers that are similar to the ones that were introduced on the Apple Watch.
One of the highlights of the iPhone 6s Plus is the 3D Touch on board. This feature which is similar to the Force Touch one on the Apple Watch allows the iPhone 6s Plus to distinguish different levels of screen presses and intros two new iOS features - Pop and Peek, which will be exclusive to the 6s and 6s Plus.
What does 3D Touch on the 6s Plus allow you to do by pressing the screen harder than an usual tap? Here are some of the more important features: Quickly access handy shortcuts on the home screen icons, switch between apps, and more.
Apart from that, both phones employ touch-based fingerprint readers that not only allow you to conveniently lock your device with a fingerprint, but also make use of Apple Pay, Cupertino's home-grown payment system. Note that the one on the 6s Plus is touted as being twice as faster as the one that is embedded inside the home button of the 6 Plus. Additionally, both phones can be paired with an Apple Watch and co-operate on providing you with basic biometric insights like steps taken or your heart rate.
Processor and memory
While the iPhone 6 came with a 64-bit Apple A8 chipset coupled with an M8 co-processor, the 6s Plus ups the chipset game with the new, speedier Apple A9 chip.
The latter are built at the 14nm FinFET chipset touted as being 70% faster than the A8 SoC at CPU tasks and 90% at graphics rendering tasks. There is also a new M9 co-processor embedded inside the A9 chip and is in an always-on state, which will allow for Siri to be called with the "Hey, Siri" command if the phone is locked.
The iPhone 6 Plus, on the other hand, comes with a dual-core 1.4GHz Apple A8 SoC that usually beats most of its Android rivals in single-core benchmarks and tests. Moreover, its PowerVR GX6450 GPU is one of the better-performing ones around. This hardware setup is perfectly sufficient for the software needs of the iPhone 6 thanks to the optimization of iOS.
The iPhone 6 Plus comes with 1GB of RAM, yet we are not quite sure whether the 6s Plus has twice the amount or still relies on 1 gig of operational memory. There's also no change in the available storage options - both devices come in 16, 64, and 128GB versions.
Apple iPhone 6 Plus benchmark results
The 2,915mAh battery on the 6 Plus is seems humongous as per iPhone standards, as Apple's phones employed smaller units beforehand. Still, it was not up to the task of successfully rivaling the able-bodied Android offerings on the market, but still, it was the endurance king among all iPhones. It lasted for 6 hours and 32 minutes in our custom battery benchmark test, a hour and ten minutes more than the iPhone 6.
It seems that the 6s Plus comes with the same amount of juice at the back. Apple cites the same official battery measurements for the 6s Plus as it did for the 6 Plus However, due to the more power-efficient Apple A9 chipset as well as the new Low Power mode, we are hopeful that the 6s Plus will succeed to eke out more battery life of the juicer on board. Of course, we will have to put it through our battery benchmark test - be sure we will do so as soon as possible.
The camera is another department in which the 6s Plus brings a much-anticipated improvement. It comes with a 12MP iSight camera at the back, while all iPhones since the iPhone 4s features an 8MP shooter. It's quite the improvement over the Apple iPhone 6 Plus, as it's boasting "50% more pixels and 50% more focus pixels". It also comes with smaller pixels (1.22µ vs 1.5µ), but the maximum aperture has not been increased and is still f/2.2. With such a setup the phone was able to give most of its rivals a run for their money photography-wise, so we expect nothing less from the 6s Plus. Actually, we expect it perform even better than its predecessor photography-wise.
The camera of the 6s Plus also comes with a new feature dubbed Live Photos. Basically, it takes a short video clip right before and after you snap an image. You can view the live photo afterwards by 3D-touching the taken picture in your gallery. It's not a new idea: Microsoft's Lumias have had a similar feature for some time now.
First iPhone 6s camera samples
In terms of video-recording, we once again witness an improvement over last-year's offering. The iPhone 6s Plus supports 4K video recording (3840 by 2160) at 30 fps, as well as 1080p video recording at 30 and 60fps. Slo-mo videos have also seen some love — while the 6 Plus only allows you to shoot 720p videos at 120fps and 480p at 240fps, the 6s Plus welcomes 1080p video recording at 120fps and 720p at 240fps, which is quite the increase in the resolution. On top of that, both devices are equipped with cinematic video stabilization that aims to get rid of those shaky videos once and for all.
At the front, we are greeted by a 5MP selfie-taking front-facing camera with an aperture of f/2.2. Once again that's an improvement over the 1.2MP that has been gracing each and every iPhone since the iPhone 5, and will most certainly improve the general quality of the selfies that future iPhone 6s Plus users are going to snap. The curious thing about this new FaceTime camera is that it will use the display as a two-tone flash of sorts and light it up when the ambient lighting won't suffice for a decent selfie.
It seems that Apple has had a rather prominent champion in the phablet category with the iPhone 6 Plus. Judging from everything we've seen so far, we can safely deduce that the 6s Plus won't be the black sheep in the family. On the contrary, we expect the 6s Plus to sail in familiar waters. It's bringing a pretty ample selection of noteworthy new features that will most probably entice a large portion of the existing iPhone 6 Plus users. Of course, the iPhone 6s Plus might not look like such a major upgrade for some users, but we feel like this "s" upgrade mid-cycle might be one of the best ones in Apple's book. Basically, it's the same phone on the outside, but the insides are vastly different, and naturally, better. Only time will tell if the 6s Plus will turn out to be a massive success.