iPhone 6s full review
Apple's latest generation of iPhone devices, the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus are now on sale. You can pre-order the new iPhone from Apple, using the website or Apple Store app.
Two models of iPhone are available (in varying colours and internal storage sizes): the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. The key difference is the size of each device, with the iPhone 6s Plus being noticeably larger. Each model is larger than the iPhone 5S/5C and earlier iPhone devices.
Thinking of buying a new iPhone? Thinking about buying a new iPhone? Here's how the new ones compare with the old ones: iPhone buying guide: Should you buy an iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, the iPhone 5s, an older iPhone, or wait for iPhone 7?
iPhone 6s vs iPhone 6s: size matters
The chief difference between the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus lies in the size and weight of each device. The iPhone 6s Plus is a bigger and heavier device, with a bigger screen, a bigger battery and a bigger price tag.
- Size: 67.1mm x 138.3mm x 7.1mm (width, height, depth)
- Weight: 143 grams
- Display: 4.7-inch
- Resolution: 1334x750
- Retina Display: 326 ppi (pixels per inch)
- Contrast: 1400:1
iPhone 6s Plus
- Size: 77.9mm x 158.2mm x 7.3mm (width, height, depth)
- Weight: 192 grams
- Display: 5.5-inch
- Resolution: 1920x1080
- Retina Display: 401 ppi
- Contrast: 1300:1
The iPhone 6s Plus is a noticeably bigger device, with a much larger screen. Both devices match their respective predecessors so you should be able to get a feel for them by visiting the Apple Store (or by asking around if a friend owns one). This year's iPhones are slightly heavier than those launched in 2014, but in terms of dimensions you'll get a very close imitation of the iPhone 6s by playing with the iPhone 6, and of the iPhone 6s Plus by trying out the iPhone 6 Plus.
There is a tradeoff to each device. The larger screen on the iPhone 6s Plus makes it easier to use the keyboard, and photos, videos and games look more impressive. The resolution is higher on the 6s Plus than on the 6s - not just high enough to compensate for the larger space the pixels take up, but actually more pixels per inch - although both are pleasingly sharp and we find it hard to notice a significant difference here. The contrast is slightly sharper on the smaller iPhone 6s model, but again we find it hard to tell any difference in real-life usage.
We find the iPhone 6s Plus too large to comfortably fit in a pocket, and it's actually a bit larger than ideal for holding against your head when making phone calls. It is also cumbersome if you want to strap it to your arm while exercising. But the larger screen does offer notable usage gains.
Both models are larger than the iPhone 5s/5c models that were launched in 2013 (and remain Apple's most recent 4-inch iPhones). We think the best thing to do is visit an Apple Store and have a good hold of both devices and see for yourself how the physical dimensions will work for you.
iPhone 6s vs iPhone 6s Plus: camera, photographs and video recording
Both the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus feature improved cameras and enhanced video recording options.
The iSight camera (the main one for taking photographs with) is now a 12-megapixel sensor with 1.22u pixels. The upgrade is identical on both devices.
Both devices also feature Apple's new Live Photos feature. When taking a photograph, it captures a few stills on either side of the photograph and stores them. When using the new 3D Touch feature on the phone (by pushing firmly on the display) you will see a photograph animate, and come to life.
Both phones also sport Apple's new 4k video recording mode (3840x2160 at 30fps). Being able to record 4k video on a mobile phone is nothing short of remarkable, although you'll need to be careful about how much space it takes on your iPhone.
Here is how much storage a minute of video takes up:
- 60MB with 720p HD at 30 fps
- 130MB with 1080p Full HD at 30 fps
- 200MB with 1080p Full HD at 60 fps
- 375MB with 4K at 30 fps
While that doesn't sound much, you can only record around 30 minutes of 4K video per 10GB of space free on your iPhone. (Bad news if you've got the 16GB model, which we'd hoped would be replaced by 32GB.)
One notable difference between the two models is that the iPhone 6s Plus has optical image stabilisation. This means that it records smoother video, especially while zooming in. While most of us won't appreciate the difference, it may be enough to swing a professional photographer or videographer to plump for the iPhone 6s Plus.
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 vs iPhone 6s Plus: power and battery
Power and battery is one area where the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus diverge quite sharply. The larger iPhone 6s Plus has a bigger battery, and even though it has a bigger screen there's plenty left over for longer battery life.
Apple lists the following battery information on its website:
iPhone 6 battery
- Talk time: Up to 14 hours on 3G
- Internet use: U to 10 hours on 3G, up to 10 hours on 4G LTE, up to 11 hours on Wi?Fi
- HD Video playback:Up to 11 hours
- Audio playback: Up to 50 hours
- Standby time: Up to 10 days (250 hours)
iPhone 6s Plus battery
- Talk time: Up to 24 hours on 3G
- Internet use: Up to 12 hours on 3G, up to 12 hours on 4G LTE, up to 12 hours on Wi?Fi
- HD Video playback:Up to 14 hours
- Audio playback: Up to 80 hours
- Standby time: Up to 16 days (384 hours)
We haven't put these claims to the test yet, but we've noticed Apple tends to be quite conservative with its battery estimates. In real-life usage, we tend to get more than that from new iPhones.
The amount of battery life does decrease over the years. Both the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s have smaller batteries than the models they replace. The smaller internal battery may exacerbate the reduction in battery life over time. If battery life is a genuine concern then going for the iPhone 6s Plus makes sense.
iPhone 6s vs iPhone 6s Plus price UK: How much does the new iPhone cost?
The pricing for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus matches the price for the models it replaces. While there are no major price increases, the iPhone remains at a premium price point.
The iPhone 6s starts at £539 while the iPhone 6s Plus starts at £619. Breaking that down further:
- 16GB: £539
- 64GB: £619
- 128GB: £699
iPhone 6s Plus
- 16GB: £619
- 64GB: £699
- 128GB: £789
These are the prices for an unlocked iPhone direct from Apple. Of course, it is possible to pick up an iPhone locked to a carrier and pay a monthly subscription cost. Carphone Warehouse has iPhone 6s models available for pre-order with prices starting from £44 per month.
What is the best iPhone 6s colour?
The iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus are now available in four colours:
- Space Grey
- Rose Gold
All four colours are available across both models, so which one you pick is very much a matter for personal preference. Rose Gold is the new colour, and matches a Rose Gold Apple Watch now on sale. Rose Gold looks somewhat between pink and copper, depending on the light. We thought it wasn't the colour for everybody, but it was the model that first went from 25/9 to 2-3 Weeks during the pre-order period.
One thing to take into account is the front plate. On the Silver, Gold and Rose Gold models, the front of the iPhone is white, while the Space Grey model has a black faceplate. Some people prefer the lightness of the white model, others prefer the way the black screen blends into the black case on the Space Grey model.
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!