Despite being an “S” release, the iPhone 6s has a surprising amount of new features to seem like it actually could be worth an upgrade. Let’s dive right in and find out.

3D Touch

Force Touch seemed like it wasn’t that great of a feature on the Apple Watch and the new MacBook, so Apple brought it back to the drawing board and enhanced it. I’ve heard other tech pundits call 3D Touch a gimmick, which it is – right now. Of course it feels gimmicky, it’s a brand new feature and only a handful of apps support it. Give it time and I think you’ll find that 3D Touch is a completely new way to interact with your iPhone. Apple even lets you customize the sensitivity of 3D Touch. Go to Settings>General>Accessibility>3D Touch to set the level of sensitivity to your liking – Light, Medium, Firm.

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3D Touch brings two new verbs: Peek and Pop. Peek happens in certain situations where you can lightly 3D Touch a photo, a link, an email, etc. in order to get a quick glance at the information. Then if you want to fully open up the object, you press a little harder and you Pop into your desired object. Here’s an example: in your Camera Roll, you can 3D Touch a photo in order to get a bigger preview of it. Now, while you’re still in Peek, you can swipe up to quickly copy, share, favorite or delete that photo.

Another handy shortcut is if you 3D Touch an app icon to bring up anywhere from one to four most popular actions, called Quick Actions. A popular example is Instagram. 3D Touching the Instagram app brings up a menu with four selections: New Post, View Activity, Search, and Direct message. So which apps support it? Unfortunately for now you’re just going to have to experiment by 3D Touching practically everything to see what happens.

Camera

iPhone 6s brings the biggest camera upgrade to the iPhone in years. The new camera is twelve megapixels, and while I haven’t really noticed a big difference between the iPhone 6 camera and the iPhone 6s camera, it’s still a great update. For you videographers, the iPhone 6s lets you shoot 4K video, which is enough of an upgrade to incentivize a certain Swiss News Team to completely ditch their traditional recording equipment for the new iPhones. Although many reporters can’t tell the difference between a 4K screen and a 1080p screen, 4K video is a whole new, noticeable level.

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Live Photos seems like a gimmick. I know I said the reason 3D Touch felt gimmicky was only because it’s a new feature, but I’m disappointed with Live Photos – specifically, using a Live Photo as a wallpaper. I was so psyched at first, because I incorrectly thought that it was the same thing as a dynamic wallpaper, something our Android brethren enjoy. But no, it’s not a true dynamic wallpaper, only a pale imitation. In addition, Live Photos can only be truly enjoyed by iPhone 6s users. Facebook says it will support Live Photos “before the end of the year.” It’s unclear how fast (or at all) other social networks will follow suit.

That being said, in order to get the best use of Live Photos requires a tripod, as the iPhone 6s STILL doesn’t have OIS (grrr). Maybe shooting Live Photos is a better experience on big brother iPhone 6s Plus, but for now using a tripod is best unless you have the steady hands of a surgeon.

iOS 9

You can’t talk about iPhones without mentioning iOS. iOS 9 brings great features, like swiping to select multiple pictures in Photos, Apple News (which for some mysterious reason I can’t access), Notes and Reminders with iCloud Sync and options in the share sheet, and a streamlined Settings. Also, the Health app changed the color of the Sleep Analysis card from blue to an ugly magenta.

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Whereas iOS 8 was an incremental improvement on iOS 7, I feel iOS 9 is a worthy update that can stand on its own. Most notable is Split Screen Multitasking on iPads, as well as on Macs with El Capitan (which is definitely incremental). Apple is certainly playing catch up in this area.

Along with iCloud Sync and sharing options, Notes has much needed changes in a direct hit at Evernote. Sketching notes, text formatting, using photos in notes and organizing notes into folders, as well as rich URLs are what iOS 9 users can expect.

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Another new feature is called WiFi Assist, which promises to “automatically use cellular data when WiFi connectivity is poor.” Translation: unless you have an unlimited data account, turn it off. For an unknown reason Apple included Find Friends and Find iPhone as default apps now. Find iPhone I can understand, but Find Friends is completely pointless and will probably end up in an “Apple Junk” folder.

Summary

There’s no compelling reason to get an iPhone 6s if you have an iPhone 6. 3D Touch isn’t going anywhere, and will definitely be included in future iPhones. I won’t even bother mentioning the new Rosé Gold option, since it not only fell out of fashion about twenty years ago, it’s a completely different color than the Rosé Gold of the Apple Watch Edition, so you won’t in fact be matching. I will say that Space Grey is a joke and I want a pure black iPhone.

Tune in next week for my review of an awesome UAG case for the iPhone. Thankfully, despite the slight size difference, iPhone 6 cases will still fit iPhone 6s phones.

 

About the author

Andrew Orr

Andrew Orr is a young man who loves gadgets, photography and cats. You can find him most places under the username @orrandrew91.