Apple iPhone 6s Plus review: Apple’s best big smartphone

Alex Kidman 13 November 2015

Apple’s second take at a "phablet" device, the iPhone 6s Plus sits at the very top of the iOS mobile device family in terms of both features and price. It’s large enough to accommodate a battery that beats the iPhone battery curse, and powerful enough for those who want a truly premium device.

Here are the essential specifications for the Apple iPhone 6s Plus:

AppleiPhone 6s Plus
Screen size5.5in
Display density401ppi
ProcessorApple A9
Rear camera12MP
Front camera5MP

Apple iPhone 6s Plus from Apple

The Apple iPhone 6s Plus comes in Gold, Space Grey, Silver and Rose Gold. It comes preloaded with iOS 9 and introduces new features like 3D Touch, Live Photos and a powerful A9 processor. Click "View Site" to choose between the 16GB, 64GB and 128GB models on Apple's website.

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Upsides: Why you’d want the Apple iPhone 6s Plus

  • Solid battery life: iPhones have a bit of a reputation for being terrible when it comes to battery life, and unfortunately the iPhone 6s Plus’ smaller sibling, the Apple iPhone 6s has this exact problem. Thankfully, the larger physical size of the iPhone 6s Plus means Apple can cram more batteries into its frame, which leads to a huge difference in battery life between the two models.
    As with any smartphone, the battery life you get will vary depending on your usage, but it’s fairly easy to get the iPhone 6s Plus to last an entire working day. Using the Geekbench 3 battery test with the screen dimmed, here’s how the iPhone 6s Plus compares to current popular premium smartphones:

    HandsetGeekbench 3 Battery Test DurationGeekbench 3 Battery Score
    Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+8:24:105041
    Apple iPhone 6S Plus7:48:104681
    Samsung Galaxy S66:51:304115
    Google Nexus 5X7:14:204062
    Google Nexus 6P6:39:203754
    Apple iPhone 6s3:52:102321
  • Good performance: Apple only upgrades its iPhone lines once a year, and it runs off its own ARM-based processors. The latest generation of the A-series processors, the A9 is a powerful processor that scores well in synthetic benchmarks, but more critically also delivers smooth performance in day to day tasks. Here’s how the iPhone 6s Plus compares to a range of current premium handsets in the cross-platform Geekbench 3 test:
    HandsetGeekbench 3 Single Core (higher is better)Geekbench 3 Multi Core (higher is better)
    Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+14924893
    Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge13244626
    Google Nexus 6P12514597
    Samsung Galaxy S613474569
    Apple iPhone 6S25404410
    Apple iPhone 6S Plus24914391
    Google Nexus 5X11883198
  • Best current iOS camera: The smartphone camera has quickly become a key selling point for any given smartphone. The optically stabilised camera module in the iPhone 6s Plus is slightly outdone by cameras in some premium Android phones, but if you’re a heavy iOS user not interested in switching camps for the sake of just the camera, the iPhone 6s Plus represents your best photo taking option.
  • 3D Touch expands your interaction options: The flagship "new" feature of the iPhone 6s Plus is the ability to touch "into" the screen via 3D Touch. It's the same basic idea as found on the Apple Watch, where a harder press on the screen brings up a secondary contextual menu depending on the application you've chosen. On the larger screen of the iPhone 6s Plus 3D Touch makes a lot of difference to usability if you struggle with larger screen phones.
  • Live photos: To supplement the iPhone 6s Plus' optically stabilised camera, the other new fun feature is Live photos. It’s rather like the living images in Harry Potter, in that it captures a few seconds of video around when you take a photo. A 3D Touch press activates the photo, bringing it to life. It's far from essential, but it is fun.

Downsides: Why you might not want the Apple iPhone 6s Plus

  • It's a large phone: This is naturally a matter of taste and preference, but the Plus is in the Apple iPhone 6s Plus' name for a reason. The days when Apple made small phones are well and truly over, but Apple's particular large screen phone packs a little less display real estate into a frame where other makers eke out a little more. This is compounded by the fact that for a large screen phablet-style device, the iPhone 6s Plus' 1334x750 pixel resolution is notably low.
  • It's not a huge jump from last year's model: The S series iPhones are often tweaks to the larger design changes made when Apple switches model numbers, and the iPhone 6s Plus is no exception. 3D Touch and Live Photos are nice, but if you bought an iPhone 6 Plus last year, the impetus to immediately upgrade is fairly minimal.
  • It's premium priced: Apple doesn't play in the budget or even particularly the mid-range categories when it comes to smartphone pricing, and as the most premium of Apple's premium line, the iPhone 6s Plus attracts an outright price point that starts at $1,229 and goes upwards from there.

Who is it best suited for? What are my other options?

If you've already heavily invested in the iOS ecosystem with apps and iTunes purchases and like large screened phones, the Apple iPhone 6s Plus is your best bet for a current Apple handset. Apple doesn't allow any other manufacturers to make iOS devices, so you've only got the iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 6s and iPhone 5s to pick from in current handsets.

Sitting as it does at the top of Apple's iPhone family, the iPhone 6s Plus attracts premium prices, which means that absolutely any other phablet-style phone is within your grasp if you don't mind switching to Android or Windows Phone platforms. From a style point of view the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ is the obvious point of comparison, but there are numerous other large screened phones on the market such as the Google Nexus 6P, LG's G4, Sony's Xperia Z5 Premium or Oppo's lower cost Oppo R7 Plus.

Where can I get it?

The iPhone 6s Plus is available from a wide variety of carriers in its 16B, 64GB or 128GB variants. To find the best deal for you, including whether you’re better off buying outright or going on contract, check out our comprehensive mobile phone comparison tool.

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