Apple iPhone 6s, 6s Plus review: new camera welcome but not much else to entice

Saturday marked the biggest day in the tech calendar for the UAE with the official release of the new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus.

Unlike the comprehensive design overhaul of last year’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the latest upgrades to its smartphone range are, as expected, on the subtler side. But while Apple’s assertion that “the only thing that’s changed is everything” is stretching things a little, there are some significant changes worth considering.

The 6 and 6s retain the much-loved design of last year’s devices, give or take a millimetre here and there. One noticeable difference however is weight, especially with the S Plus, which is 20g heavier than its predecessor.

In addition to last year’s silver, gold and space grey trims, the 6s range now comes in “Rose Gold”, otherwise known as “pink”.

Other modifications introduced by the 6s range are evolutionary rather than revolutionary, with two major exceptions, namely an upgraded camera and the new 3D touch system.

Despite its impressive “Shot on iPhone” advertising campaign, Apple’s cameras haven’t had a major upgrade since 2011. This in spite of great strides made by rivals such as LG and Samsung.

It’s a welcome addition therefore to see Apple finally boost its primary camera to 12MP from 8MP and its selfie camera to 5MP, with the added ability to shoot 4K video.

Images are noticeably better than those taken on the 6 range, with a lot more detail and definition, with a particular improvement in low light images.

The second major change is the introduction of 3D Touch, a pressure sensitive touchscreen that lets you gently touch an item (such as a link or a new email) to preview it, and then press a little harder to open it. On some apps, such as Instagram, a light press on the icon will bring up a list of shortcuts.

It’s a genuinely innovative feature, albeit one that developers (and this reviewer) are still getting to grips with. After a day’s experimentation it feels like an unobtrusive feature that genuinely adds functionality to the user experience, without being essential.


How much do they cost?

A 16GB iPhone 6s (with a 4.7 inch display) will set you back around Dh2,599, while a 128GB iPhone 6s Plus (with a 5.5-inch display) will cost an eye-watering Dh3,799. As ever, it pays to shop around, with some nice online discounts available.

So not cheap then. Will you be upgrading?

Having bought a 6 Plus under a year ago, I’m not going to buy a 6s Plus. The camera is much better, and the 3D Touch system offers fascinating potential, but my wife isn’t going to let me spend Dh3,000 when I’ve had my current phone for less than a year.

But what if I want to replace my iPhone 5s?

If you’re looking to stay with Apple then it’s definitely worth the upgrade.

How about if I bought an expensive iPhone six months ago, but now feel an irrational but overwhelming need to buy one that comes in pink?

You mean “rose gold”? You’re in good company. Local retailers say around 80 per cent of new iPhones sold are in the new colour range, which is especially popular with female customers.

And how many of the new iPhones have been sold here so far?

Apple announced 13 million global sales in the three days after launch, but didn’t give details for the UAE. Local retailers say that sales in the first few days have been high, if a little below what we saw with the 6 range last year.

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