You know the drill: the new iPhone 6S is magical, incredible, extraordinary and all the other superlatives Apple likes to throw around. But how does it compare to the iPhone 6, Apple’s magical, incredible, extraordinary… we’ll stop now. Let’s see what’s new and what’s worth thinking about.
iPhone 6 vs iPhone 6S: design and display
As we’ve come to expect from S-model iPhones, the iPhone 6S doesn’t appear dramatically different from its predecessor. It’s the same size (albeit very, very slightly thicker) and looks identical. The only glaringly obvious difference is the new and rather tasteful Rose Gold option, although it’s a pretend gold unlike the real stuff in the Apple Watch Edition.
The screen hasn’t changed either - once again it’s a 4.7-inch IPS LCD (5.5 inches in the Plus) delivering 1,334 x 750 pixels at a density of 326ppi - but it’s behind stronger glass, and the way it’s made has changed. The iPhone 6S has 3D Touch technology, which works in the same way as Force Touch on MacBook trackpads and on the Apple Watch: in addition to taps it can also tell if you’re pressing or if you’re pressing hard.
Think of it like right-clicking a mouse. We’ve seen this in other phones, of course - Huawei has force touch in the Mate S which it launched last week - but that’s a Huawei gimmick, not an Android feature. In Apple’s case, though, it’s baked right into the OS and will be on 100% of iPhones made from now on, giving developers a pretty big market very quickly. From what we’ve seen so far it works well, enabling extra options just where you need them and helping you get things done with fewer taps.
The new iPhone has a new Touch ID sensor too. Apple says it’s twice as fast as before. Twice as fast comes up a lot: Apple says both Wi-Fi and 4G are twice as fast too.
iPhone 6 vs iPhone 6S: will it bend?
Any phone bends if you put enough pressure on it, but the iPhone 6S is made of more robust aluminium than the iPhone 6. It’s the same aluminium that Apple uses in the Apple Watch Sport. That won’t stop clowns trying to give it the full Uri Geller in Apple Stores, but it should mean we don’t get a repeat of the overhyped Bendgate “scandal” this time around.
iPhone 6 vs iPhone 6S: processor, RAM and storage
As expected the processor is Apple’s own third-generation 64-bit processor, the Apple A9, which Apple says runs 70% faster than the A8 with 90% better graphics performance. There’s no separate motion co-processor this time - it’s been built into the A9 - and we’re told that RAM has been bumped up from 1GB to 2GB. Storage options haven’t changed, however: the range starts with a stingy 16GB of storage, rising to 64GB or 128GB if you’re willing to dig a little deeper into your pocket or purse. As ever, the storage isn’t expandable via microSD.
The most obvious difference between the two phones is likely to be in multitasking, gaming and using Safari, three areas where RAM and processing power increases can make iPhones happier.
iPhone 6 vs iPhone 6S: camera
The iPhone 6 camera is pretty good - and with optical image stabilisation the 6 Plus is even better - but Apple has been lagging behind in the megapixel stakes, with just 8MP in the iPhone 6. That’s changed with the 6S, which has a 12 megapixel sensor with faster and more accurate autofocus and low noise. It’s the first iPhone to shoot 4K video too. If you want to do that we’d strongly advise against buying the 16GB model.
The front-facing camera is updated too: it’s a 5MP selfie shooter that uses the display as a “Retina Flash” to deliver similar flash effects to the true tone flash on the rear camera.
There’s another new feature, too: Live Photos, which are essentially short Vine-esque video clips produced by the camera shooting in burst mode, which it now does by default. The results are 12MP photos, but the iPhone joins them together in what Apple calls “a space efficient way”. They’ll work on iPads, on Macs and on Apple Watch too, and Facebook is on board to support Live Photo sharing too.
iPhone 6 vs iPhone 6S: battery
If there’s one thing we know about smartphones, it’s that their batteries get bigger with each version. Right? Not this time. Reports say that the battery is actually 5% smaller than before. But before you throw up your hands in horror, that doesn’t mean that battery life is actually worse: the processor is more efficient and iOS 9 more battery-friendly than before, so the iPhone 6S actually delivers better life from a smaller battery. We know what you’re thinking: why not keep the battery the same size so we can have more power? We suspect the answer is that Apple needed to make room for the 3D Touch system or the iPhone 6S would be an awful lot thicker.
iPhone 6 vs iPhone 6S: price and UK release date
Apple sold the iPhone 6 at £539 for 16GB, £619 for 64GB and £699 for 128GB. The iPhone 6 Plus was £619/£699/£789 for the same storage options. According to Phil Schiller, Apple will stick to the same prices while the existing 6 and 6 Plus get a price cut. The new iPhones go on sale on 16 September.
iPhone 6 vs iPhone 6S: should you buy one?
Yes and no. Yes, the iPhone 6S is great and offers even more bang for your buck than the iPhone 6 did, so if it makes financial sense for you to upgrade now you won’t regret it. And no to the 16GB, unless you don’t plan to record video or take lots of photos.