Earlier today, Apple finally unleashed the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus to the rabid public. With 3D touch, an improved 12 megapixel camera, and faster internals, these new smartphones are thoroughly impressive. But are the improvements worth investing in if you already have an iPhone or Android handset?
As a long-time iPhone user, the most intriguing addition to this year’s model has to be 3D touch. The pressure sensitivity opens up a lot of possibilities for clever new apps, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this become an industry standard over the next few years. That being said, it’s not quite enough to persuade me to invest in a new phone this year. Like most smartphone owners, I typically wait at least two years to upgrade, and this release cycle is no different. After all, 3D touch will still be around next year when I consider buying an iPhone 7.
Itching to see how the new camera holds up? Our sister site PCMag’s Jim Fisher took the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus for a spin, and compared the results against the Samsung Galaxy S6. Neither Apple or Samsung deliver a flawless photographic experience, but the results are pretty close. The S6 is slightly superior to the new iPhone cameras in certain lighting conditions, but the edges of the image tend to be a bit blurry. For most people, this is a toss-up. All of the cameras are solid, so just stick with the platform you like best.
If you’re looking at the cameras from an upgrade perspective, the improvements here aren’t necessarily worth the cost of a new smartphone. The 6s and 6s Plus take slightly clearer still images than the last-gen models, but it’s not going to be a night-and-day difference. However, the addition of 4K videorecording is a pretty sweet bonus. If that tickles your fancy, the upgrade might be worth it for you.
As for the new A9 SoC, Apple claims that the CPU is 70% faster than last-gen, and the GPU is 90% faster. Many outlets are reporting that Apple’s new smartphones are actually faster than their Mac counterparts, but PCMag’s Sascha Segan has effectively debunked that idea. The single-core performance stats for the A9 are outstanding, but don’t expect that to outpace your MacBook Pro.
Both the LTE and WiFi radios have been improved, and Apple is promising some pretty impressive download speeds. LTE Advanced connections can see speeds of up to 300Mbps, and 802.11ac connections can get up to 866Mbps. Of course, real world limitations like thick walls and network congestion will likely drop those speeds down a bit, but you can still expect superb performance in your day-to-day experience.
By all accounts, the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are splendid smartphones. If you’re still on an iPhone 5s or earlier, you can definitely feel good about stepping up to a new model. But if you’re happy with your iPhone 6, 6 Plus, or current Android phone, there’s not enough here for me to recommend buying in. Just sit tight, and wait for the next big release.