In what has become one of the more predictable, yet still anticipated, launches of the year, Apple has once again chosen September to reveal its newest iPhone. Er, iPhones. The exteriors of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus are identical to the current iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, save for a Rose Gold color option that’ll be available on the new models. In other words, you won’t be able to tell the new handsets apart from a glance. What’s new lies within, and we’ve broken down the pros and cons as you mull over yet another upgrade come September 25.
The Details: The iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus will be available in gold, silver, space gray and the new rose gold metallic finishes for $0 down with 24 monthly payments starting at $27 and $31, respectively, on September 25. If you’re curious about real pricing without all of the monthly smoke and mirrors, the iPhone 6s will go for $649 (16GB), $749 (32GB), and $849 (128GB), while the iPhone 6s Plus sells for $749 (16GB), $849 (64GB), and $949 (128GB).
If you’ve utilized Force Touch on the Apple Watch, you’re already familiar with 3D Touch. Oddly enough, Apple renamed the tech for its iPhone implementation, but the execution is the same. On the new phones, you’ll be able to press downward on the display, and it’ll track the amount of pressure you’re applying. This enables apps to create widgets with action shortcuts depending on how hard you press, and it also allows you to more easily switch between apps and toggle actions within them. The sect that’ll appreciate 3D Touch most is the gaming crowd. Now, you’ll be able to accelerate more accurately, zoom with touch, and generally do a lot less tapping.
There’s an all new processor in here, the A9, which is roughly twice as potent as the A8 present in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. We never felt that the current iPhone needed more horsepower, but it’s impossible to have too much. This should make apps load more quickly, freezes less frequent, and allow games to feel much smoother. Actually, we should probably mention “gaming” as a theme — Apple spent an inordinate amount of time today showcasing how its newest products will benefit casual gamers.
It’s hardly a quantum leap, but this year’s duo has a 12MP rear-facing camera (up from 8MP) that supports 4K video recording. We’re expecting the next overhaul of the iPhone, likely happening at this time next year with the iPhone 7, to contain a far more impressive upgrade in optics. But if you’re dying to shoot in 4K on your iPhone, or you’re too lazy to take selfies with the better of the two cameras, the new iPhone is for you — there’s an upgraded 5MP front-facing camera on the 6s and 6s Plus, but you should question everything about your attention to detail if you’re settling for the weaker lens rather than mastering the reach-around.
iPhone Upgrade Program
Quietly tucked away at the end of Apple’s keynote was this: a new payment structure that’ll only be available through retail Apple Stores in the United States (not online, and not international). What’s impressive is that this payment plan closely mimics the one you’re probably already on through your carrier, but Apple’s scheme allows you to get an unlocked phone every single year, and one with AppleCare+ insurance to boot. The “unlocked” part is special. Unlocked phones are crazy expensive, but crazy useful for jetsetters. You’ll need an unlocked phone to use SIM cards from foreign carriers when traveling abroad, and unlocked phones are easier to resell globally due to the lack of carrier constraints. It’s a major step in putting US carriers where they belong: sitting squarely as a utility.
We’re months away from 2016, and Apple’s baseline iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus ships with 16GB of storage. That is unequivocally unacceptable, and frankly, baffling. This is from a company that has built entire farms of storage in the wilds of North Carolina. To boot, one of the newest features — Live Photos — enables users to capture images with 1.5 seconds of video before and after the shot. That’s high-def video, which eats up a truly shocking amount of space. Apple’s mainstream user base isn’t apt to know all of this ahead of time, which could cause an uproar amongst those who realize Apple shouldn’t be allowed to hawk a flagship phone this day and age with only 16GB of storage.
The Joke of iCloud
In the past 12 months, both Google and Amazon have opened up free, unlimited storage for photos to their respective users. The Google Photos app for iOS automatically uploads every photo one takes on their iPhone’s camera for safe keeping. And yet, Apple — with its aforementioned storage farms — refuses to get with the program. It remains inexplicable that each new iPhone doesn’t ship with at least enough free iCloud space to back up its internals — so, 16GB of iCloud space for a 16GB iPhone. To add insult to injury, Apple actually took time to update its iCloud pricing today, which doesn’t even warrant discussion due to its inability to address such a basic backup need. One of Apple’s target metrics is customer satisfaction. What’s more satisfying than providing enough iCloud storage with an iPhone to prevent a customer coming to a retail store and weeping because “they’ve lost everything?”