iPhone 6S Plus
We got our hands on a shiny new iPhone 6S Plus which we have been testing for a couple weeks now. Here are our first impressions.
Physically, the iPhone 6S looks the same as it’s predecessor. But as soon as you get it in your hand you FEEL the difference. No really. It’s a little bit heavier, noticeably so and I like it. The iPhone 6 form factor is so ‘slippery’ for lack of a better word, so the added thickness and heft the 6S brings is a welcomed change. This extra weight/thickness is mostly due to the added display tech, as well as the Taptic Engine. Previously known as ‘Force Touch’, the z-axis based touch tech is now dubbed ‘3D Touch’
In a previous blog I discussed the potential that 3D Touch has and how much I enjoyed it’s application within the Watch. Out of the box, 3D Touch on the iPhone 6S has few applications, but it's quite easy to tell that this technology will be ubiquitous in the smart phone world within a few years time. People have equated 3D Touch to the ‘right-click’ function on computers. This isn’t quite accurate. Right clicking on a computer gives you a menu of extra options that would be otherwise inaccessible to the user. 3D Touch within iOS, however, is more of a short cut. Things that used to take several taps can be condensed to a much quicker action. For example, someone sends you an iMessage of a picture that you wish to save to the ‘Photos” app.
The pre-3D Touch way: Unlock phone > tap messages > tap the conversation in question > tap the image within the conversation > tap on the image again after it has filled the screen from the conversation view > tap the share button > tap the save image button.
7 steps without 3D Touch.
The 3D Touch way: Unlock phone > tap messages > tap the conversation in question > press on the image which will ‘pop’ and expand into a larger view, once in this view and without lifting your finger, slide upward on the image revealing menu > tap save image in this menu.
5 steps with 3D Touch.
I know, it doesn’t seem like much, but the utility of this ‘press’ and ‘pop’ hardware Apple has added saves time at every turn. It’s somewhat difficult to get used to, and there isn’t much 3rd party support yet, however from what I have seen 3D Touch is going to be so useful we will wonder how we functioned without it.
Camera and Live Photos
While 3D Touch is amazingly convenient, by far my favorite feature of the iPhone 6S is Live Photos. Live Photos are a new setting you can turn on and off just like HDR within the camera app. A Live Photo is a 12mp still image with a 3 second MOV file layered over it. This essentially turns every photo you take into a GIF. These magic moving Harry Potter pictures are viewable on all devices running iOS 9 and on Macs through the Photos app.
Apple pitches the utility of Live Photos as ‘capturing the moment’ rather than just an image, and honestly, thats pretty spot on. Watching your photos move and gaining context for the moment in which they are taken is a pretty amazing thing. The subtle movements of your child or pet on top of an amazing still image really adds more than I ever thought it would. If you’ve taken a Live Photo you can animate the image by ‘pressing’ on the display, this in turn plays the MOV file within.
These Live Photos look even better thanks to the upgraded 12mp rear camera. The quality of these images are quite stunning, and according to some sources, come close to DSLR quality. Although, the front facing camera might steal the show, getting a HUGE upgrade from 1.2mp to a 5mp camera with ‘Retina Flash’. Retina Flash allows the display of the phone to flash in a ‘true tone’ color that makes for a brighter, more natural looking image, and it really does work. The result, FaceTime and selfies look great even in low light.
Other added benefits worth mention are the ability to take 4K videos at 30fps (finding a 4k display to play it on might be difficult), and the added benefit of optical image stabilization for still images AND NOW video on the iPhone 6S Plus. I believe this is the sole reason why the 6S Plus would be worth the upgrade over the 6S. Maybe the 1080p display can entice you as well, but the OIS is really what makes the 6S Plus shine.
The ’S’ Argument
There are two kinds of iPhone people. The sort that upgrades on the ’S’ year, and the sort that upgrades on the model year. Every ’S’ year, Apple reuses last year’s design and adds some sort of tech or feature that entices you to buy. The 3GS was speed, the 4S was Siri, the 5S was TouchID and now we have 3D Touch on the 6S. In the years between the ’S’ models, Apple changes the physical look of the phone. Personally, I am of the belief that the ’S’ year is the year to upgrade. This is always the year that the best tech, and consequently, the best value is added to the phone. This year is no exception. In fact, I would argue that this is the most compelling year to upgrade since the 4S. If you can resist the look of a new phone, skip the model year, and get the better 'S' iPhone that may not look new.
Bottom line: do your research when buying new tech and avoid upgrading every year. Also, let your devices live long happy lives through use of repair. It’s good for your wallet and the planet.
-Shatter Buggy, Denver