iPhone 6S Review – The iPhone 6S is no longer available from Apple and there are plenty of newer alternatives such as the iPhone XS, but the 6S can still be found in some stores and at a much lower price than it once had. You can also update it to the latest software – iOS 12.
Apple’s iPhone 6S pitch was ‘the only thing that’s changed is everything’, highlighting that it knows this is phone looks an awful lot like the previous model.
It makes sense that Apple would try its hardest to show that, despite the handset looking identical to the iPhone 6, there have been loads of changes under the hood that make this an attractive phone in its own right.
The chassis is stronger, the camera sharper – with a new Harry Potter-esque way of capturing your snaps – and there’s even a completely new way of interacting with the screen. On paper, it’s an impressive upgrade.
Of course, it’s also getting on a bit now. So much so that Apple itself no longer sells the iPhone 6S. By iPhone standards it can be considered a budget option – and that may suit you, especially as it’s still a solid handset, as this review shows.
If you do go for the iPhone 6S then you’re looking at prices of around $370 / £300 / AU$630 for a 32GB model, which at the time of writing seems to be the most widely available model if you’re hoping to buy new rather than refurbished. There are also 16GB, 64GB and 128GB versions though.
All ‘S’ phones look like their forebears and the iPhone 6S is no different. The fact that Apple still uses the basic iPhone 6S design for the iPhone 8 shows how much it believes in it.
The flat back, curved sides and large bezel around the display have become iconic traits that have stood the test of time. The phone’s design still measures up against more modern looking phones for the most part.
Not all is top-drawer though. The antenna bands that snake their way around back and sides are hideously ugly, breaking up the otherwise seamless look.
On the side you’ve got the power-button and volume keys, with the headphone jack and Lightning connector on the bottom. Below the display is the home-button with an integrated Touch ID fingerprint sensor.
Unlike on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8, the button here is a physical key that moves when you press it. Removing the mechanical button allowed the following iPhones to boast a water-resistance rating.
The screen on the iPhone 6S seems to be identical to the iPhone 6’s: we’re talking a 4.7-inch affair with 750p resolution, which keeps it firmly in the ‘Retina’ range that the firm debuted all the way back with the iPhone 4.
It’s hard to rate the display, as while it fails on resolution (quite spectacularly actually – phones a seventh the cost of the iPhone 6S offer 1080p screens, Samsung’s cheaper phone has four times the resolution of the 6S and Sony has, inexplicably, launched a 4K phone) it doesn’t drop too badly on performance.
The iPhone 6S display is clear, bright, laminated to the glass and insanely colorful. The first time I saw it on the iPhone 6 I thought it was a fake picture stuck on top of a dummy unit, such was the clarity on offer.
So to use the same thing on the iPhone 6S makes sense – after all, the lower pixel count means it can be thinner and the battery can last longer, thanks to having fewer pixels to drive.
12 megapixel rear sensor
5 megapixel front camera
4k video support
While the two cameras on the iPhone 6S look the same as those on the iPhone 6 from the outside, both rear-facing and front-facing cameras have been improved. The rear camera now uses a 12-megapixel sensor, up from 8 megapixels, and comes with the usual Apple tweaks to get the most from the scene in front of you.
Photos are natural in their colors and tones, with the iPhone 6S performing as well as many compact cameras we’ve seen. In terms of performance, it’s able to cope well with a multitude of different shots.
We’re impressed with the autofocus too – it actually focuses on the subject, rather than trying to make the whole scene sharp – and copes with an array of lighting scenarios including low-light.
Although the default camera app doesn’t allow you granular control over things like white balance and ISO levels, there are plenty of third-party apps that allow you to do just that.
On the front the 6S has a 5-megapixel iSight camera, but most important is a new feature that turns the entire phone screen into a sort of flash for those perfect selfies. Press the shutter button and the phone will analyze the light needed and then change the hue of the white accordingly. We’ve seen bright clean whites to creamy tones depending on the ambient light situation.
The improvements on the iPhone 6S over the iPhone 6 can be clearly seen, and Apple has continued to move the capabilities of the camera forward in its latest. Shots aren’t just bigger in terms of output size, they’re better as a result of all those additional tweaks.
Other camera advancements include bigger panoramas that capture even more detail. The main absence is a lack of optical image stabilization, which the larger iPhone 6S Plus offers, and the more recent iPhone 7.
The iPhone 6S is hell-a-fast, which is apparently not as fast as “stupidfast” but is nonetheless pretty nippy.
Apple’s A9 SoC (System on a Chip) houses a shiny new PowerVR GPU and two CPU cores clocked at 1.8GHz each, up from 1.4GHz, and there’s 2GB of RAM.
Having two whole gigabytes of RAM isn’t a big deal these days, Android phones generally have at least 4-6GB. But the iPhone 6S runs fine with it.
With the iPhone 6S, I’ve managed to switch between as many as 10 tabs in Safari simultaneously loaded tabs without any reloads.
They’ll still reload if you leave the app and come back some time later, but in the time you’re active within Safari it handles the workload well.
Apple may have brought down the battery capacity on the iPhone 6S, but the battery life is the same. The 1715 mAh battery on the iPhone 6S runs for about a full day, on regular usage.
With 12 phone calls, uploading 25 photos to Facebook and lots of messages on WhatsApp, and 10 minutes of gaming, the phone ran for 16 hours. With the low power mode on, the phone can go an hour or two over a day. So, for all general purposes, the iPhone 6S can run for a full day. What’s worth appreciating is how well iOS manages battery drop during idle hours. The iPhone drops less than 2% battery over 8 idle hours every night.
For the current RRP of £449, the iPhone 6S is far too expensive. There are just too many better options out there for the same price. iOS 12 will likely make it a much better device, but that isn’t here yet and there are notable performance problems on older iPhones with iOS 11. If you can pick the iPhone 6S up cheaper and you simply must have an iOS phone then you might even see benefits with installing the iOS 12 public beta. Hope that our above iPhone 6s review will useful for you!
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