The iPhone 6S & 6S Plus: Better, Faster, Stronger

Photo: Courtesy Christina Bonnington.
You can finally retire your poor old phone with the cracked screen. Today, Apple announced its next generation of iPhones, the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus. While they look the same as the iPhone 6, you're going to be able to do so much more with them.

The new iPhones take a few pages out of the Apple Watch book. First, they're made out of aluminum that's 60% stronger than other alloys. This means they should be better protected against dents and scratches than the iPhone 6 is. The 6S and 6S Plus are also available in a lovely, rose-gold hue in addition to the current color options: silver, space gray, and gold. The newbies are sized the same as the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but are fronted with stronger glass.

The 6S and 6S Plus screens can detect two new pressure-based gestures, thanks to something called 3D Touch. You can now “peek” and “pop” instead of just tapping and swiping. Press lightly to get a "peek" at content, such as a preview of an email you just got; press more deeply to "pop" into to the content itself. These gestures act as shortcuts for navigating your phone. For example, on a photo, you can get options to share that image without having to tap and swipe into another menu. In Messages, you can take a peek at your Calendar to check your schedule before responding to whether or not you can attend a party later that week. 3D Touch seems like it will eliminate a lot of unnecessary taps, but will take some getting used to first.

And then, there's the camera. The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus house a 12-megapixel shooter that can capture HD and 4K video — 4K video has eight million pixels in every frame for an absolutely insane level of detail (unfortunately, all that detail will also translate into huge video file sizes). Apple also added a feature called Live Photos. This lets you capture a short burst of video along with your image, so it’s like a photo that comes to life. You switch on a Live Photo by tapping and holding on an image. By default, the phone will capture these Live Photos automatically.

The front-facing camera also got an upgrade: It can take 1080p video and 5-megapixel images. It also gets a boost with some new features, including selfie panoramas, slo-mo, and a hack that lights up the screen to illuminate your face for nighttime selfies. Apple says it matches the ambient lighting for this, so you don’t end up looking like a flash-faded ghost.

To support all these new features, Apple updated the iPhone's internals with a faster A9 chip. This phone is 70% faster than the iPhone 6 for CPU tasks, and 90% faster for GPU tasks. It’s also got a new TouchID sensor that’s twice as fast as the old one.
Photo: Courtesy Apple.

For Android users thinking of switching to iOS, Apple announced an Android app that will help make your transition smooth.

The new iOS 9-running iPhones go up for preorder on Saturday, September 12 and go on sale on September 25. Pricing starts at $199 for 16 GB, $299 for 64 GB, and $399 for 128 GB for the iPhone 6S, and $299 for 16 GB, $399 for 64 GB, and $499 for 128 GB for the larger iPhone 6S Plus (with a two-year contract). At Apple Retail stores, you can also participate in the iPhone Upgrade Program, which lets you update your phone each year, choose your carrier, and get an unlocked phone — and it starts at $32 per month.

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