A Review of the iPhone 6S smartphone with 4K video camera
In contrast to their usual habit of making S device releases that are only minorly better than what was previously the latest, Apple has gone further ahead with the iPhone 6S than we’d have expected and added in some truly interesting and powerful new modifications.
The iPhone 6S is not only a superb improvement for users who still have their iPhone 5S in their pockets and handbags, it’s also a great phone by itself, with some notable improvements from even what came in the iPhone 6. Outward design does remain the same but a lot of the internal goodies in this little device have gone further ahead, including a nicely enhanced touchscreen and the addition of a powerful new 4K video shooting camera that can also capture 12 megapixel photos.
Coming in two slightly different versions as the iPhone 6S and the iPhone 6S Plus, this new smartphone actually comes pretty close to living up to the words of Apple CEO Tim Cook, who said that “the only thing that has changed is everything”.
The first good thing on the newest iPhone version from Apple is the fact that while the phone looks virtually the same on the outside (for those who like the original iPhone 6 design) there a lot more than meets the eye beneath the surface, even in design terms. This is because the iPhone 6S chassis has been built with a different, superior grade of aluminum that’s also commonly used in the aerospace industry and which has also been implemented in the Apple Watch Sport. Thus, the 6S should at least be a bit more bend resistant than the iPhone 6 was –it received a number of owner complaints of the phone bending after being sat on.
Next up, there is the new touchscreen of the 6S and 6S Plus, which now includes a technology called “Force Touch”, which is also found in the Apple Watch and a few Mac trackpads. In the iPhone 6S line, Force Touch goes under the name “3D Touch” and is essentially a mechanism for bringing up secondary menu options and screen actions with pressing down on segments of the screen and holding there.
This feature is genuinely useful and allows for things like pressing down for context-specific menus, app switching and deeper photo examination and manipulation. Furthermore, the 3D Touch function lets users access shortcut options from the home screen for the actions they most frequently perform and functions they most often use. Other examples of 3D Touch in action include pressing harder on a specific app for much wider options for that app and pressing on an email inbox message element for more information from previous emails to that same person.
Finally, while we’ll cover both of these in greater detail further down, the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus have come with some serious camera revamping that lovers of high resolution photos and 4K video will love. New additions here include a front facing 5 megapixel camera for selfies and a much augmented 12 megapixel rear camera. Additionally, this is the first ever iPhone to come with native 4K ultra HD video recording capacity, which is something that finally puts the iPhones video camera into the top tier of the latest flagship cell phone cameras.
Also, on a final note for the sake of avoiding serious confusion, the main differences between the iPhone 6S and the iPhone 6S Plus are that the latter comes with a larger 5.5 inch screen, a slightly higher screen resolution and a battery that offers 2915 mAh of power instead of the 1715 mAh of the iPhone 6S. In pretty much all other specs and features, the two phones are identical.
The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus are both kings of light design and heavy power in true Apple style and using them is for the most part a complete joy, so there really isn’t much to call crappy about these two phones. However, a couple minor deficiencies do stand out in our view.
For starters, for the price you’re going to pay for this phone and for the sheer processing power its new A9 chipset offers (more on this further down), Apple could have really invested in a more powerful camera. The company has a track record of being staying low on the resolution list with its phones’ photo shooting capacities and only now have they finally moved up from the 8 megapixel sensor the iPhone has had for years. With the 6S/6S Plus phones we finally see the 8 MP benchmark move up a few notches to 12 megapixels but it could have gone higher still. Apple doesn’t have to reach for the massive power of Sony’s 23 megapixel sensor that’s found in the Xperia Z5 Premium phone with 4K display but they could have gone for 15 to 18 megapixels without a problem.
Furthermore, the new 4K video recording capacity on the iPhone 6S’s camera isn’t something you can switch over to right within the phone’s phot/video app. Instead, you need to go right into Settings, bring up the camera controls and manually switch over to 4K video resolution. This is a bit cumbersome and annoying in our opinion, though it’s also understandable to an extent since Apple probably doesn’t want users accidentally activating the 4K video on their camera app and eating up their storage with footage that they thought was just HD.
Display size: 4.7 inches
Video Resolution: 3840 x 2160/ 1920 x 1080
Screen Resolution: 750 x 1334 pixels
Video frame rates: [email protected], [email protected],[email protected], [email protected]
Processor: 64-bit A9 processor
Front Camera: 5 megapixels
Rear/Main Camera: 12 Megapixels
OS: iOS 9
Internal Storage: 16, 64 and 128 GB variants
External Storage Capacity: NA
Battery: 1715 mAh
Dimensions: 5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28 in (138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm)
Weight: 5.04 oz (143 grams)
Visually, the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus are externally identical to the iPhone 6 from 2014, so what you’re getting in the box won’t be any kind of surprise at first glance. The same slightly protruding camera and brushed aluminum metallic body are the case here and if placed next to an older iPhone 6, the only way by which the 6S/6S Plus would really look different is in its slightly greater thickness, which we suspect was added in for the sake of fitting technology for the 3D Touch we’d already covered above.
Nonetheless, because the original iPhone 6 was a delightfully thin, light model, so too is this version. It feels like a premium phone that’s light in the hands without feeling grossly flimsy or cheap. Furthermore, the new, superior and reinforced 7000 series aluminum that was used for the chassis of the 6S/6S Plus phone offers even more strength without affecting appearance and weight in any notable way.
The iPhone 6S features Apples’ latest (obviously) iOS 9 mobile operating system and all the technology that goes with that. But what most impresses in the phones new software-based features is definitely the 3D Touch technology that has now been added to the screen.
While in essence 3D Touch is something like the right click on a mouse and at first glance seems like a really simple and slight change to the normal touch features of other Apple devices, it actually does create quite a unique new level of user experience for the next generation of iPhones. One of its technologies is what is called “Peek and Pop”, and essentially involves, applying pressure to any of Apple’s native apps for the ability to see all sorts of internal details appear on the screen without opening the apps themselves completely. This can be used to see a new email with the Email app, and even examine links or other content inside an inbox message, or it can, for example, be used to also open links in messages and emails right in the phone’s built-in Safari browser.
3D Touch also lets users use shortcuts on their 6S screens, basically letting them press a little harder and longer on any 3D Touch-enabled apps and have a list of several Quick Action menu items appear such as playing a recent song on the Music app or quickly posting a photo to Instagram. Again, as we said, a similarity to mouse button right-clicking exists with this second aspect of 3D Touch and while the feature is seemingly simple, it rather impressively changes the on-screen interactivity of the iPhone 6S.
Finally, we should also mention the newly upgraded chipset in the iPhone 6S. In this phone it comes in the form of Apple’s new 4K graphics-capable A9 processing chip and with this addition come some other changes. Overall, this phone runs much faster than the old iPhone 6 and also delivers a much sharper, superior gaming experience for those of you who like that.
Given the chip’s 64-bit architecture also means much smoother app functionality and better overall handling of video and photo media on the iPhone 6S, which is a vital feature in a phone that can record native 4K video.
The 12 megapixel camera of the iPhone 6S is quite a powerful little beast as far as 4K videos are concerned. However, in the photo department, while it does provide wonderfully clear, colorful and vibrant photos, the overall resolution could use a bit of improvement. 12 megapixels is less than we’d like and Apple could certainly do better here by going to at least 15 MP or the 16 megapixels of the Samsung Galaxy S6 flagship phone.
However, what we did like about the rear (main) camera of this iPhone is the fact that it still comes with the same excellent shooting speed for ideal levels of photo clarity even in darker settings and continues to include the same classic iPhone camera features like time-lapse shooting and slo-mo presets. Furthermore, we really like its ability to capture what Apple calls Live Photo, which basically takes a 1.5 second photo on either side of a shot you’re aiming for. While Live Photo has to be manually activated when you want to capture something, it’s useful for creating much more lively, almost mobile images of action sequences like a child playing or maybe one of your pets fooling around.
Finally, as far as video shooting goes, the iPhone 6S can manage the usual mix of different HD formats and even lower than HD video recording, with the front selfie camera being able to shoot video at a rate of 240 frames per second for 720p HD video and 20 frames per second for Full HD 1080p footage. As for the main rear camera, it can do Full HD video at 60 frames per second or 120 frames per second depending on specific settings and manages 4K ultra HD video at 30 frames per second.
And the quality of the 4K video produced is some genuinely impressive stuff. Footage is clear, colorful and ridiculously sharp when shot under ideal conditions, and even if viewed on the phone’s 740 x 1334 HD display looks amazing almost no matter how much you zoom in on a given piece of video.
The iPhone 6S display is the kind of screen we’d expect from an Apple mobile device. Resolution isn’t quite Retina quality but nonetheless looks wonderfully crisp on the 4.7 inch display space. Furthermore, Apple has implemented what it calls ion strengthened glass and oleophobic coating to the screen for maximal strength and crack resistance. There is also of course a display zoom function and the already-mentioned 3D Touch technology built into this phone’s fairly advanced little IPS screen.
The screen of the iPhone 6S Plus is pretty much identical in its qualities to the screen of the iPhone 6S except that it offers a slightly higher resolution and a screen size of 5.5 inches
Apple iPhones have often been the brunt of jokes because of their sometimes short battery lives. While we don’t know if this is entirely justified, they definitely don’t have the lasting power of batteries in some other flagship phones from competitor brands. In the case of the iPhone 6S, the internal 6.9 Wh non-removable Li-Po 1715 mAh battery works decently if the phone isn’t being used for some heavy photo and video manipulation or gaming but it certainly could have been more powerful. Sony’s Xperia Z5 Premium phone, which is that brands current flagship model, offers a battery with almost twice the power and a solid two days of charge-free use under conditions of light to moderate use.
The battery life of the iPhone 6S Plus is 2915 mAh, considerably more powerful than that of the 6S.
Again, the iPhone 6S isn’t anything close to a phone with lots of defects, but to summarize quickly a couple of the things we don’t like about it include its weaker battery life, the camera only coming with a 12 megapixel photo resolution maximum and the fact that shooting 4K video is a bit of a cumbersome process which involves going into the phone’s settings and manually activating UHD video recording.
The iPhone 6S is currently retailing on Amazon.com for $1,450 for the 128GB model, $1,290 for the 64GB model and for about $1,050 for the 16GB version. All are available on pre-order as of this writing, with expected delivery dates on or around the 25 of Sept, 2015.
• Superb 4K video recording capacity
• 3D Touch interface feature
• Excellent photo quality
• Beautiful, light design
• Great apps ecosystem
• Battery is a bit weak
• Main photo camera does only 12 megapixels
• Slightly complicated 4K video shooting process