What’s the difference between the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6?

Angus Kidman 10 September 2015

What do you actually get if you shift to Apple's newest iPhone?

Apple has officially announced the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, its new flagship smartphones. Pre-orders for the phone in Australia open at 1701 AEST on Saturday September 12 2015, and the phone will be officially released on Friday September 26.

If you're an Apple fanatic, you're likely to buy the new phone without thinking about its features (and the fact that it's cheaper in Australia than the US means it's not worth messing around with imports). But if you're happy with your current iPhone, what actual new features will you see on the latest model?

The most obvious improvement is the camera, which now boasts 12 megapixels for the main camera and 5 megapixels for the front-facing "selfie" camera. The iPhone 6s specs are 8 megapixels and 1.2 megapixels respectively. While that's a welcome improvement, megapixels on their own aren't the best measure of camera performance. The quality of the sensor and the associated software both arguably have a bigger impact, and those are areas where Apple already performs very well.

On the photography software front, the 6s models also introduce Live Photos, which captures the moments immediately before and after a photo is taken. Essentially, you're getting an automatic GIF feature. Like slow motion, we're sure this will be well implemented but most people won't use it regularly. You can also shoot 4K video with the 6s and 6s Plus.

Specs-wise, the major change is the shift to the A9 64-bit processor (and matching M9 motion processor). Apple says that this offers 70 percent faster processing and 90 percent faster graphics, and also claims that the battery life will be improved. We'll have to wait for real-world testing to see if that's actually the case.

It was widely rumoured that the 6s would introduce the "Force Touch" system found on the Apple Watch, which allows apps to react differently depending on how hard you press. The actual implementation is called 3D Touch. A key element of this is "Peek and Pop", which Apple explains this way: "Press lightly to Peek at a photo, email, web page or other content, and press a little deeper to Pop into the content itself." 3D Touch also enables you to set up shortcuts on the Home key based on how long or hard you press it.

The other changes are fairly superficial. There's a new "rose gold" model if you don't like the current colours. The phone is actually slightly heavier and thicker than its predecessor, though not by a highly noticeable amount:

ModelWeightSizeThickness
iPhone 6s143g138.3mm by 67.1mm7.1mm
iPhone 6s Plus192g158.2mm by 77.9mm7.3mm
iPhone 6129g138.1mm by 67.0mm6.9mm
iPhone 6 Plus172g158.1mm by 77.8mm7.1mm

It's often said that iPhones released in odd-numbered years are evolutionary, not revolutionary, and the 6s and 6s Plus continue that trend. If you're coming to the end of a contract for an older model, it's a solid (if expensive) choice. If you're rocking a 6 or 6 Plus, the argument for upgrading is tougher.

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