Apple iPhone 6s vs iPhone 6
The new 12-megapixel camera captures surprisingly similar images to the 8 MP iPhone 6 snapper. For the most part, you won’t be able to tell the difference between the two. 4K video, however, is a game changer.
iPhone 6s comes with a bump in resolution: it now features a 12-megapixel iSight camera, up from the 8-megapixel rear shooter on the 6. Both are identical in size, 1/3" sensors, with f/2.2 lenses. The larger pixel size, however, has forced Apple to use smaller pixels: 1.22μm on the 6s, down from 1.5μm on the 6. Just in case you were wondering, neither the iPhone 6s, nor the iPhone 6 have optical stabilization. Looking at the front, there’s an even bigger upgrade in the selfie camera: it goes from just 1.2-megapixels to 5-megapixels.
Before we look at the actual images, let’s take a look at the camera app itself and its features. No surprises here: the camera apps on the 6s and the 6 are practically identical save for the Live Photos feature and 4K video recording that are only possible on the 6s. In terms of manual controls, you have a convenient slider to easily control the exposure of an image – make it brighter or darker. If you want a full-on manual ride, though – with control over ISO, white balance temperature, and shutter speeds – you’d need to use a third-party application from the App Store.
So is there any huge difference in the quality of the pictures? To put it simply, not really. We took heaps of images with both phones and pictures mostly look… the same. Starting with the colors, dynamic range, sharpness, everything just seems identical. You can even look up close, hunting for differences and you’d be hard pressed to find anything. If you do look at minute details, though, you will notice that the 6s looks sharper at the edges, where the iPhone 6 has slightly softer detail.
Then there is 4K video. You may wonder whether it makes a difference; after all, most of us still have 1080p monitors and TVs. It does. And it looks excellent. 4K video appears much sharper and much better defined than 1080p, even when you look at the footage on a 1080p screen. It’s a difference that’s immediately clear: no need to peek and look into fine details to see it. Also, it retains the super fast continuous auto-focus speeds that you are used to from before, no issues in this regard.
At the same time, 4K is also crazy big in terms of file size. A minute of 4K video takes up 375MB of storage space, so you can record less than 30 minutes 4K total on the 16GB iPhone 6s. In comparison, 1080p at 30 fps on both the iPhone 6 and 6s takes an average of around 130MB, nearly three times less. All video is recorded using the H.264 codec.
However, if you are a video enthusiast, it makes sense you'd want to record in 4K. And in that case you might want to get a 64GB or even a 128GB iPhone 6s.
With Apple Music now part of the Music app, the media apps look better than ever on both phones. The iPhone 6s, however, shines with a brilliant new speaker.
With Apple Music, Apple is trying to move into the future of music, which is clearly streaming. Both the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6 support the app and it’s working mostly great. Yes, it has some shortcomings when compared to rival Spotify, but Apple has quickly moved to address most of them and it has the important advantage of having Apple Music as part of the first-party Music app that is seamlessly integrated in the iOS ecosystem. This will win a lot of users over. The interface and functionality is straightforward, with large and good-looking image art and nice categorization and playlists.
Then, the Photos app. It is largely the same affair on both phones, simple and easy to use. What’s annoying on the iPhone 6s gallery, particularly in the grid view, is that there is no indication which of your images are Live Photos and which are just static, so you have to manually 3D Touch each one to see. Bummer!
The videos app is also simple and straightforward on both phones: it’s great for looking through your own videos and has simple sharing options.
Finally, the loudspeaker. Both phones have a single, bottom-firing speaker but it’s improved in the iPhone 6s, with a bit more depth and clarity to it than on the 6. It’s one of the best sounding speakers we’ve tested.