Apple iPhone 6s review and latest news

Facebook Messenger adds 3D Touch features for iPhone 6s and 6s Plus users

4
Price 
£516
ex VAT (64GB version)
Pros 
Unparalleled performance; Excellent build quality; 3D Touch is a real time-saver
Cons 
Battery life isn't as good as the iPhone 6; 16GB doesn't provide nearly enough storage
Verdict 
It doesn't have as much stamina, but this is still a worthy successor to the iPhone 6

Click here to jump to the full review.

Latest News

14/07/2016: Facebook has added Apple's 3D Touch features to the Messenger app for iPhone 6s and 6s Plus users, making use of the smartphone's pressure-sensitive screen.

The app already supported 3D Touch for Quick Actions, but has now extended that support to inside the app, reports 9to5Mac.

Users can 'Peek and Pop' inside Messenger to preview and view information using the feature, and now also make use of 3D Touch for contacts, conversations, photos, videos, stickers, links and locations. 

The update from Facebook also includes a fix for layout bugs on the iOS beta preview.

13/07/2016: Apple is facing a lawsuit by Texas-based company Somaltus LLC, claiming that the iPhone 6s' charging system violates a patent owned by Snap-On Technologies since 2010.

The technology in question is what allows the iPhone to charge quickly up to the point of 80 per cent, reports 9to5Mac, after which it switches to a slower method that improves battery performance over time.

Somaltus LLC's use of the 'integrated battery service system' does not appear to be related to smartphones, tablets or computers, but the company has previously sued Nissan, Ford and others with it alongside Apple, Asus, Lenovo, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba.

Somaltus is seeking royalties on the sale of Apple's infringing devices, or an unspecified amount of damages.

26/05/2016: Alphabet boss Eric Schmidt admitted that he uses an iPhone 6s rather than an Android device.

In an interview with CNBC on stage at the Startup Fest in Amsterdam on Tuesday,he said that he uses the Apple device as well as a Samsung Galaxy S7.

"Samsung S7 is better. It has a better battery. And those of you who are iPhone users (know) I'm right," Schmidt told conference attendees. He said nothing about owning a Nexus, which is Google's own smartphones running a stock version of Android.

06/04/2016: 24 hours after it was discovered, Apple has fixed the hole in its security that gave access to contacts and photos without the use of a password on the iPhone 6s.

The security breach was reportedly fixed on Tuesday morning according to The Washington Post.

The hack required multiple settings to be enabled for it to completely work, but what this hole in Apple's iOS 9.3.1 proves is that iPhones are still far from being immune to hacking.

Apple also subtlety fixed another bug that allowed users to turn on the Night Shift feature with the assistance Siri, while the device is in lower power mode according to 9to5Mac.

Still hungry for more information about the iPhone 6s? Pop over to our sister site Know Your Mobile, which is dedicated to all things mobile 

05/04/2016: The iPhone 6s has a security hole that gives hackers access to contacts and photos without the use of a passcode, according to bug hunter Jose Rodriguez.

Attackers can tell voice assistant Siri to search Twitter for any email address by holding down the home button. Once they find one, 3D touching the email contact will bring up a menu that enables the creation of a new contact.

From here, the hacker can access all of your contacts and, if you’ve given permission for your contact app to access your photos, they can also browse your photo library.

The bug was discovered by Rodriguez, who also found a security breach just last year with the iOS 9 operating system.

You can secure your 6s by changing privacy settings to deny the Contacts app from having access to your photos. It is also possible to avoid this security breach entirely by disabling Siri within Settings.

iPhone 6s: full review

Apple's 'S' series iPhones have consistently been better than their predecessors with faster performance and a swathe of new features. It might not look like it from the outside, as the 'S' series share exactly the same chassis as its previous model. Inside, however, it's a whole different story, as this year's iPhone 6s includes a brand new processor, an improved camera and Apple's pressure-sensitive 3D Touch technology.

We've covered most of the major new features in our iPhone 6s Plus review, but the 6s differs from its larger cousin in a number of key areas. It has a lower capacity battery, a smaller, lower resolution screen, and its camera lacks optical image stabilisation. It is, however, easier to hold than the 5.5in iPhone 6s Plus, making the jump from outgoing iPhone 5c and 5s handsets far less jarring for those looking to upgrade.

3D Touch

3D Touch is the iPhone 6s's biggest new feature. Much like Apple's pressure sensitive Force Touch technology on the Apple Watch and 12in Retina Macbook, 3D Touch allows you to press harder on the screen to access different shortcuts and options.

On home screen app icons, it works in a similar way to right-clicking an icon on a Mac or PC, allowing you to jump to certain tasks straight away without having to navigate to them manually within the app. For example, you could go straight to video recording in the Camera, or send a direct message in Twitter. In-app, 3D Touch doubles up as a preview tool, allowing you to peek into emails and URLs with an initial firm press, and then opening them fully by pressing even harder.

In most cases, 3D Touch is a great addition. It not only saves time, but it's also extremely practical, particularly if you're using the phone single-handedly. Its a shame not all apps work with 3D Touch right now, but this is sure to change over time. Likewise, Apple's clever haptic feedback system lets you know whether or not you’ve pressed the screen with enough force. 

However, the 4.7in screen also has its downsides when using 3D Touch, as preview windows could often be obscured by our thumb. This is less of a problem on the larger 5.5in 6s Plus, but it's easy to work around once you get the hang of it. Overall, 3D Touch was very accurate during testing and it quickly became an integral part of how we interacted with the phone. 

Screen, casing and Touch ID

Underneath, the iPhone 6s uses exactly the same 4.7in 1334x750 resolution display as its predecessor. The resolution is a little low compared to other Android phones of this size, but it’s hardly noticeable in everyday use. Plus, the iPhone 6s's display is still one of the best in its class, delivering bright, accurate colours, excellent contrast and wide viewing angles.

Since it's much smaller than the 6s Plus, its lighter, narrower chassis is a much better fit for those with small hands. However, we found the 6s's slim, curved edges could still be quite slippery if we didn't have a firm grip on it, so you might want to consider buying a case for it despite the increased durability allegedly provided by its '7000-series' aluminium frame and Ion-X coated glass.

The iPhone 6s is noticeably more compact than its phablet counterpart

Camera

Apple's put a lot of work into the 6s's camera, fitting it with a larger 12-megapixel sensor this time instead of sticking with the 6's eight-megapixel sensor. This increases the amount of detail present, but its lack of optical image stabilisation means its low light performance isn’t a match for the 6s Plus.

In bright light, it's a much closer run contest, as Apple's managed to improve the camera's overall contrast and colour accuracy without dramatically increasing noise levels. Photos can still look a touch over-processed in places, but the added sharpness is a welcome change from the excessive smoothing found on its Android rivals.

Another new feature for the iPhone 6s is Live Photos. This rather gimmicky mode records 1.5 seconds of video footage before and after you press the shutter button, creating a short GIF-like video. It's fun in theory, but less useful in practice, as the low 15fps frame rate isn't a good match for moving targets and the lack of visual feedback when it's active makes it difficult to frame shots well and know what you've actually captured.

They also take up twice as much space as a standard photo, creating a deadly combination for those who opt for the cheapest 16GB variant 6s. 16GB just isn’t offer enough room for a flagship smartphone, and Live Photos presents yet another reason to opt for the 64GB model, the next one up in terms of price, as you can’t add more storage later.

Performance and battery life

Apple's new dual-core 1.8GHz A9 processor offers a considerable boost in speed over the iPhone 6's 1.4GHz A8 chip. In both our JavaScript and 3D graphics tests, the iPhone 6s was over 50% faster than its predecessor, and almost twice as fast when running multithreaded apps. This compares well with other Android phones, too, as even the fastest Android flagships still have some way to go in all three tests before they can catch the 6s.

The only downside is that all this extra power comes at the cost of battery life. In our continuous video playback test, the 6s lasted 11h 18m with the screen set to 170cd/m2, which is almost two hours behind the iPhone 6 when tested under the same conditions. This should still be just about enough to last a full day for light users, but if you're already underwhelmed with your iPhone's battery life, then the 6s won't be any better.

Conclusions

Taken as a whole, the iPhone 6s offers plenty of advantages over the plain old 6. 3D Touch is a genuine time-saver and the improved camera and performance give it the slick, modern feel we've come to expect from Apple flagships. The phone's reduced battery life is our only major complaint, and it's here where the temptation of switching to Android, or even opting for the still-available iPhone 6, starts to become a lot more attractive. The base 16GB model also continues to be very restrictive in our eyes, particularly when you take into account the added pressure from iOS 9's bulky Live Photos.

Still, look past its slightly diminished battery life and the iPhone 6s continues to be one of the best smartphones you can buy today. If you have big hands then the 6s Plus is the better all-round package, but the iPhone 6s is a great alternative for those who don't want the extra hassle of using a phablet.

Specifications 

OS: iOS 9 (preloaded)

Display: 4.7in, 1334 x 750 (326ppi)

Processor: 1.8GHz Apple A9 dual-core 64-bit + M9 co-processor

RAM: 2GB

Biometrics: Touch ID fingerprint sensor

Storage: 16/64/128GB

Camera: 12-megapixel with autofocus, flash, five-megapixel front-facing

Connectivity: Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, 4G, GPS/GLONASS

Ports: Lightning connector

Dimensions: 138 x 67 x 7 mm (WxDxH)

Battery: 1715mAh

Weight: 143g