Apple iPhone 6s Plus Review

Call Quality

Same acceptable results as last year, but this time the speakerphone takes a hit with its weaker performance.

The iPhone has never been known to be the best of the best when it comes to call quality, but for the most part, it does well in handling conversations. Similar to what we came across last year, the iPhone 6s Plus delivers an acceptable performance through its earpiece, which happens to deliver strong tones that make it audible in noisy environments. Sure, there’s a little bit of crackle in the voice of our callers, but generally speaking, there’s good enough fidelity and clarity to carry on conversations.

However, while the speakerphone does sound very well, it's sad to see some of its loudness being sacrificed.

Battery

Outstanding, Apple has improved the battery life significantly to offer us considerably longer usage on a single charge.

The iPhone 6s Plus appears to come packaged with the same battery capacity as its predecessor, based on its similar profile thinness and whatnot, but that’s not the case. Shockingly enough, they’ve put in a slightly lower-capacity, 2750 mAh cell, which is rather concerning knowing that last year’s model didn’t fare well in our benchmark test. Don’t be alarmed now, because Apple has significantly improved its longevity.

Not only do we get all-day usage from a full charge, even with constant email checking and surfing the web, but it proves to be just as formidable as the Note5 in this particular category. Many folks complained (including us) about the iPhone 6 Plus’ unsatisfying battery life, but that can all be placed in the back burner because the iPhone 6s Plus is a true beast of a phone when it comes to battery life.

In our custom battery benchmark test, it achieves an admirable tally of 9 hours and 11 minutes, matching the total of the Note5 in the process. That’s pretty significant knowing that it’s carrying a lower capacity cell, proving that it’s way more energy efficient.

Battery life (hours) Higher is better
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 9h 11 min (Good)
Apple iPhone 6 Plus 6h 32 min (Average)
Samsung Galaxy Note5 9h 11 min (Good)
Charging time (minutes) Lower is better
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 165
Apple iPhone 6 Plus 171
Samsung Galaxy Note5 81


Conclusion


Another year, another new iPhone – that’s just the way the world runs. Being the year of the ‘S’ for Apple, it means that the we’re given the same looking iPhone from the previous year, but with some upgraded hardware in the necessary areas, so that includes the processor, camera, and much more. In true fashion, the iPhone 6s Plus hits the mark in those crucial areas, cementing itself as a strong competitor in the field for those who happen to love, you know, big phones.

For us, the biggest changes include its intuitive 3D Touch feature and the improved battery life. Starting with the former, it’s an inventive new way of interacting with the phone, adding a totally new dimension to the experience. By now, the fundamental principles of touch interaction are embedded in all of us – so that includes pinch gestures, swiping, long pressing, and tapping. With 3D Touch, however, Apple introduces the notion of ‘pressing in’ to some elements for additional functionality. It’s a cool implementation, but its purpose is still fairly limited right now, which means that it’ll be up to developers to really take it to a higher level.

Secondly, we have to applaud Apple for significantly improving the battery life as well for the iPhone 6s Plus, seeing that its predecessor didn't particularly excel in that department. Now, though, its tally is indicative of what we’d want to achieve for a phablet. However, it lacks some of the modern conveniences that we’re starting to see on some high-end smartphones – such as wireless charging.

iOS 9 isn’t a huge overhaul to the typical experience, as most of its exclusive functionality here with the iPhone 6s Plus relates to its 3D Touch features. While the new additions of it are still greeted with open arms, we feel that the iPhone 6s Plus lacks the multi-tasking prowess of many of its Android nemeses. For a phablet with a huge screen, it’s very beneficial to be able to have side-by-side operation of two applications on the same screen.

Generally speaking, the iPhone 6s Plus delivers all the necessary improvements that make it a viable offering to choose in the space. It’s premium in design, incredibly responsive with its performance, and it even does a commendable job with its battery life and camera quality. Fundamentally, it has all the ingredients of being a wonderful phone. However, as we’ve seen this year, carriers have moved away from subsidy pricing, which means that phones are now purchased through these financing deals – or outright, that’s if you have the disposable income to splurge.

Those considering buying the iPhone 6s Plus, just know that its price ranges from $749 to $949. Don’t bother choosing the base $749 16GB model, since you’ll blow through that tally very quickly. Rather, think about going with the 64GB or 128GB versions, which sell for $849 and $949 respectively. Basically, you’ll need to fork over close to $1000 to pick up the iPhone 6s Plus, provided you don't opt for Apple's new yearly upgrade program.

So, is it worth upgrading to the iPhone 6s Plus if you have the iPhone 6 Plus? That’s tough, just because at the end of the day, the experience is pretty similar with the two – save for the improvements with its camera and battery life. Sure, 3D Touch is cool and inventive, but its purpose right now is still sparse, so for the most part, your trusty iPhone 6 Plus will prove to be perfectly adequate for the time being. We really wouldn’t suggest snapping at the opportunity to make the upgrade, especially knowing its hefty cost upfront. Still, if you’re piqued by the new features and improvements, while also having that disposal income on hand, it never hurts to go with it.

Apple’s new phablet is indeed an improvement over its predecessor, it’s better, faster, and stronger in every respect. Then again, can’t we say the same thing about each successive iPhone ever? Still, the competition makes for a compelling argument as well – more so when some of them match, or even surpass the iPhone 6s Plus in some categories. But we find ourselves struggling when trying to think of any other handset which is this well balanced in everything that it does.

Software version of the review unit: 9.0.1 (13A405)



UPDATE: You can now read our iPhone 7 review and iPhone 7 Plus review!

Pros

  • 3D Touch adds a new dimension to interacting with a smartphone
  • Great battery life
  • Great all-around performer with its camera
  • Incredible performance
  • Premium design
  • Smoother and shake-free video capture
  • Touch ID is even more responsive
  • Quality loudspeaker

Cons

  • Heavy weight
  • Base storage option is still 16GB
  • iOS 9 doesn’t have side-by-side multi-tasking on the 6s Plus
  • Weaker loudspeaker output than before
  • No wireless charging

PhoneArena Rating:

9.2

User Rating:

9.2
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