Apple’s iPhone 6S and 6S Plus: The reviews are in

September 22, 2015, 7:30 PM UTC
Courtesy of Apple

Ben Bajarin, Techpinions: New iPhones, New Behaviors. I’ve spent a little more than a week with the new iPhones. My first impression was, “Apple was not kidding when they said the only thing that has changed is everything”. This is the first iPhone experience I’ve had in quite some time where I felt a leap forward in user experience. The kind where you realize your behavior has changed, in a positive way, and you wonder how you lived without some of these new features. I’ve always considered it a good sign when a new feature is added to a device that makes you like it so much you wish you’d had it for years. The new iPhones bring several of these experiences.

Niley Patel, The Verge: Apple presses forward. This is an S year for the iPhone, which means the basic physical design of the phone has remained the same while the internals have been substantially revised and made faster. S iPhones may lack the punch of a new design, but Apple says they actually sell better and last longer in the marketplace than non-S iPhones — these are the phones that stick around. This year there are also two changes to the exterior: the glass screen is now stronger and more shatter-resistant, and the case is made of a tougher aluminum that will presumably be less prone to bending.

Walt Mossberg, re/code: The iPhone 6s Keeps Apple on Top in the Smartphone Race. The new model’s most important new feature: The multitouch screen now gains a new system-wide capability — it reacts to the force of your finger, a feature called 3D Touch. For instance, if you press just a bit harder than usual on an email in a list, 3D Touch will give you a peek into its contents, including any photos it contains, and then, when you release your finger, you’ll be right back where you were. This is one of those potentially huge user behaviors — like swiping, or pinching and zooming — that seem odd or minor at first, but which Apple historically is able to make deeply important and useful.

David Pogue, Yahoo: A Spectacular Phone Gets Better. The biggest new thing is speed. There’s a new processor in the iPhone 6s family; Apple says it’s “up to 70 percent” faster. If you operate an iPhone 6 side-by-side with an iPhone 6s, the difference hits you between the eyes. Opening apps, switching apps, processing things—it all happens faster on the 6s. (You can see this side-by-side comparison in my video, above.)

Brian X. Chen, New York Times: The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are being equipped with two signature new tricks: 3D Touch, which brings up different functions by pressing hard or softly on the touch screen; and Live Photos, which lets you snap photos that essentially turn into miniature videos. After testing the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus for two weeks, I had mixed feelings on the usefulness of the new features. I found that Live Photos quickly became an enjoyable, integral part of shooting photos with an iPhone. But I couldn’t get into the habit of using 3D Touch.

John Paczkowski, BuzzFeed: Yet another iPhone 6S review: I’m already using [3D Touch] constantly, and I am impressed with how good it is at interpreting the force of my touch. It’s very much an Apple innovation — a seemingly subtle change so thoughtfully executed that it proves transformative. Does that also sound like Jobsian hyperbole? Probably. But I think 3D Touch is likely the biggest innovation to the iPhone UI since the iPhone UI.

Joanna Sterne, Wall Street Journal: A Slightly Better iPhone 6. If you have an iPhone 6, you won’t be overly jealous of those who get a 6s—maybe just a tad envious of those Live Photos. If your iPhone is more than two years old, this is the phone to get. Just make sure to pay Apple’s ransom for the 64GB version.

Sam Grobart, Bloomberg Business: Come for the New Features, Stay for the Screaming Speed. The new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus are great. If you’re in the market for a smartphone, you should buy one—but not for the reasons you might think… With prodigious speed, well-thought-out interfaces, and flawless hardware-software integration, these new iPhones provide the tool for whatever it is you’re doing and just let you do it. The best thing about the 6S and 6S Plus isn’t all the new stuff to pay attention to, it’s all the stuff you never notice.

Matthew Panzarino, Techcrunch: New iPhones and a new tempo. I have a theory, just between you and me, that the new iPhones we’ll be seeing from Apple are never going to go back to the ‘tick/tock’ cycle. Competition is too fierce, the scope of Apple’s other ambitions is ever increasing, and with chip design in-house and clearly firing on all cylinders, the company has the resources and tools to introduce the most rapid refinements to the iPhone than ever before. We’ll see if that’s true next year. But for now, both the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus are worth your attention and, if it’s in your budget, a purchase. The camera alone is worth the price of admission — it’s truly great — the glimpse into the future of three dimensional computing is just a bonus.

Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter at @philiped. Read his Apple (AAPL) coverage at or subscribe via his RSS feed.

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