iPhone 6s Plus full review
I want an iPhone with a big screen. Should I get the new iPhone 6s Plus, or last year's iPhone 6 Plus?
Which is the best iPhone model to get: the new iPhone 6s Plus or the older iPhone 6 Plus? If screen size is the most important thing, you might be wanting to know why you should spend more on the newer iPhone 6s Plus.
Our comparison review looks at the new iPhone 6s Plus and compares it to the year-old iPhone 6 Plus, and we have spent considerable hands-on time with both Apple phones and can provide a clear overview of what you get for your money.
This is the definitive review of the iPhone 6s Plus and iPhone 6 Plus. Make sure you read our findings before purchasing a new iPhone.
iPhone 6s Plus vs iPhone 6 Plus: Size matters
Apple makes two different types of iPhone: the iPhone and the iPhone Plus. The "Plus" moniker signifies the real difference between the two phones. The iPhone Plus is a much larger device with a whopping 5.5-inch display.
The iPhone Plus was introduced for the first time last year with the iPhone 6 Plus. Apple has followed its usual pattern of introducing a new model with the same design, but new features and faster innards. This is the iPhone 6s Plus.
Both are much bigger than the standard-size iPhone, whether the iPhone 6 or the iPhone 6s, with their 4.7-inch screens. (In fact, the iPhone 5s, 5c and 5 are smaller still, with 4-inch screens, and the iPhone 4s and earlier had 3.5-inch displays).
The larger screen on the iPhone 6s Plus bulks out a lot of other parts of the phone too. It has a larger frame, it's heavier, and it costs more.
Each new model is available in 16GB, 64GB or 128GB configurations.
Annoyingly there is no 32GB configuration, and we generally advise people to steer clear of the 16GB version (it almost certainly won't have enough storage space for all your photos, apps and other documents).
Read next: Want to know what to expect from the next iPhone Plus? Read our iPhone 7 Plus release date and new features rumour roundup for the latest clues.
iPhone 6s Plus vs iPhone 6s: Physical differences and prices
The iPhone 6s Plus and iPhone are essentially identical on the outside, although the newer iPhone 6s Plus is reportedly 0.2mm thicker. We cannot tell any difference in holding both phones.
It's on the inside where the real differences can be found. The older iPhone 6 Plus has slower components, and doesn't pack new features such as Apple's 3D Touch interface.
But there is a price difference too. Apple is still selling the older iPhone 6 Plus at a reduced price. So the question is, are the new features worth the extra money?
iPhone 6s Plus models and pricing
- 16GB: £619
- 64GB: £699
- 128GB: £789
iPhone 6 Plus models and pricing
- 16GB: £539
- 64GB: £619
iPhone 6s Plus and iPhone 6 Plus: Available colours
Apple has also restricted the colours available on the older models.
iPhone 6s Plus: colours
- Space Grey
- Rose Gold
iPhone 6 Plus: colours
- Space Grey
Space Grey has a black faceplate, and the black screen blends nicely into the case (an effect that some people love). The other three models all have a white faceplate. Rose Gold is the new colour, and seemed to be the most popular choice in pre-ordering. Rose Gold shines very definitely pink in the sun and both Rose Gold and Gold are great, if slightly ostentatious, colours. Silver is light but muted. As you'd expect from Apple they all look fantastic.
The iPhone 6 Plus used to be available in Gold, so if you're buying a second-hand model you can pick up an iPhone 6 Plus in the gold variation.
iPhone 6s Plus vs iPhone 6 Plus tech specs
While both phones look identical, once you dig inside it's pretty clear that these are different phones.
The iPhone 6s has a faster Apple A9 processor, twice as much RAM and a six-core graphics chip. All of this combines to make the phone faster to use, and crucially it'll have a much longer usable lifespan.
Interestingly the battery is smaller on the new iPhone 6s Plus, but it promises the same battery life (because the newer technology is more efficient).
Both cameras (front- and rear-facing) on the new model are more impressive, and the more vain amongst us will appreciate the higher-quality 5-megapixel FaceTime camera. Photography experts will appreciate the 12-megapixel iSight camera on the iPhone, although in truth both models produce excellent photographs and regular users shouldn't care too much either way.
3D Touch is a weightier matter. Apple's new interface enables you to push firmly on the screen to perform additional gestures. A whole new interface style is evolving and it's tremendously exciting (as well as useful) to have 3D Touch on your iPhone. The 6s Plus gets 3D Touch, while the 6 Plus doesn't.
Speaking of weight, the new iPhone 6s Plus also weighs considerably more than the old model, an extra 20 grams. While that doesn't sound much it all adds up to a fairly hefty phone.
iPhone 6s Plus Technical specifications
- Dimensions: 158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm
- Weight: 192g
- Display: 5.5 inches
- Resolution: 1080 x 1920 pixels (401 ppi pixel density)
- Interface: Multi-Touch, 3D Touch
- Chipset: Apple A9
- CPU: Dual-core 1.84 GHz
- GPU: PowerVR GT7600 (six-core graphics)
- RAM: 2 GB RAM
- iSight Camera: 12 MP, 4608 x 2592 pixels, optical image stabilization
- FaceTime Camera: 5 MP, [email protected], [email protected], face detection, HDR, panorama
- Battery: Li-Po 2750 mAh battery (10.45 Wh)
- Stand-by: Up to 384 hours (3G)
- Talk time: Up to 24 hours (3G)
- Music play: Up to 80 hours
iPhone 6 Plus Technical specifications
- Dimensions: 158.1 x 77.8 x 7.1 mm
- Weight 172 g
- Display 5.5 inches
- Resolution: 1080 x 1920 pixels (~401 ppi pixel density)
- Type: Multi-Touch
- Chipset: Apple A8
- CPU: Dual-core 1.4 GHz Typhoon (ARM v8-based)
- GPU: PowerVR GX6450 (quad-core graphics)
- RAM: 1 GB
- iSight Camera: 8 MP, 3264 x 2448 pixels, optical image stabilization, phase detection autofocus, dual-LED (dual tone) flash, check quality
- FaceTime Camera: 1.2 MP, [email protected], face detection, HDR, FaceTime over Wi-Fi or Cellular
- Battery: Non-removable Li-Po 2915 mAh battery (11.1 Wh)
- Stand-by: Up to 384 h (3G)
- Talk time: Up to 24 h (3G)
- Music play: Up to 80 h
iPhone 6s Plus vs iPhone 6s: Battery life
If you take a look at the specs above you'll notice that the new iPhone 6s Plus has a smaller Li-Po 2750 mAh battery than the regular iPhone 6 Pluses Li-Po 2915 mAh.
This smaller battery allows space inside the new iPhone 6s Plus for the Taptic Engine. This is a new device that makes the phone 'tap' you in response to certain actions, and forms part of the 3D Touch interface.
Even though they have different sizes of battery, both phones offer the same amount of battery life. And the numbers in both cases are strong, at least by Apple's standards: the battery life for the iPhone 6 Plus and 6s Plus are longer than the equivalent figures for the smaller iPhone 6s and iPhone 6 models.
iPhone 6s Plus vs iPhone 6s: Interface
The big difference between the two model is the 3D Touch interface. On the newer iPhone 6s Plus you get a 3D Touch interface. When you push down on the screen, the iPhone can now distinguish how hard you are pushing.
This is used throughout iOS to perform new types of gestures. Push hard on the Mail icon, for example, and you get a pop-up menu displaying new messages.
Push on a link in Safari and a preview of the new web page appears, push harder and it pops in to replace the page you're looking at.
These new gestures are known as "peek" and "pop" respectively, and they can be used by developers. We expect games to make great use of the 3D Touch interface. It's also used to create Live Photos (more on that later).
Macworld poll: What do you think of 3D Touch?
Are you impressed by the new features made possible by the 3D Touch interface on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus? We'd like to hear your thoughts.
Holding the iPhone 6s Plus vs iPhone 6s
Both models of iPhone are difficult to grip. For some baffling reason Apple has made both phones out of a material that feels like Teflon.
Both the iPhone 6s Plus and iPhone 6s slip through your fingers and fall on the floor. We found this to be a bigger problem with the heavier iPhone 6s Plus and we wouldn't recommend using one without a case.
The iPhone 6s Plus is heavier, which to our mind makes it slightly worse if anything. It's really hard to hold firm in the hand without a case.
If you like to strap your iPhone to your arm and go jogging, then you'll find the iPhone 6 Plus slightly easier to manage, thanks to its lighter weight. But runners are better off with the smaller iPhone 6s.
iPhone 6s Plus vs iPhone 6s: photography
One key feature difference between the iPhone 6s Plus and the smaller iPhone is the presence of an optical image stabiliser. This can be found on both the iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6s Plus and it really comes into its own thanks to Live Photos.
When you snap a photo on the new iPhone 6s Plus you capture a few seconds before and after the shot. When you push hard on a photo it springs to life, animating through a few seconds. It's a neat gimmick and one that we think most people will love. It's only available on the iPhone 6s Plus and works much better thanks to the Optical Image Stabiliser.
The iPhone 6s Plus also has an improved 12-megapixel camera, versus the 8-megapixel option on the older iPhone 6 Plus. We think both cameras are excellent and don't really gain much from the extra megapixels, although we're sure pro photographers will have other ideas.
A more compelling feature upgrade is the presence of 4K video recording. While you'll need to have access to a 4K television, or monitor, being able to shoot and edit 4K video is a new feature on the iPhone 6s Plus that is astounding. Again, it's something that will only really interest professionals, but it's not to be sneezed at.
Perhaps more down-to-earth is the larger 5-megapixel FaceTime camera. This means that you'll look much sharper and clearer in FaceTime chats and if you take selfies they'll be in much sharper definition.
iPhone 6s Plus vs iPhone 6s: Hey Siri
One last feature that shouldn't go unmentioned is Hey Siri. On the older iPhone 6 Plus you could say "Hey Siri" when the phone was plugged in and charging, and this would activate the virtual assistant without you pressing any button.
On the newer iPhone 6s Plus you can say "Hey Siri" at any time, not just when the device is plugged in. Siri is setup to recognise your voice, and reacts pretty well to us. Being able to use Siri hands-free without a charging cable makes a real difference to how often we use Hey Siri, and it's a valuable feature on the new iPhone 6s Plus.
iPhone comparison reviews
If you've enjoyed this article, perhaps you'd be interested in more iPhone buying advice? We've written a series of comparison reviews, which set various combinations of iPhone against one another, head to head:
- iPhone 6s vs iPhone 5s
- iPhone 6s Plus vs iPhone 6 Plus
- iPhone 6 vs iPhone 6s
- iPhone 6s vs iPhone 6s Plus
- iPhone 5s vs iPhone 6
- iPhone 5s vs iPhone 6 Plus
These may be useful if you're trying to device between two specific iPhone models.
iPhone buying guide, autumn/winter 2015
And for a broader look at Apple's current iPhone range, take a look at our iPhone buying guide video for autumn/winter 2015:
Or, if you'd prefer to see our buying advice in written rather than video form, head over to our iPhone buying guide article.
But now, on to the verdict!