Review: Updated: iPhone 6S Plus

Introduction, design and display

In 2014 Apple finally gave us an iPhone which offered a display to rival its Android flagship counterparts, while enabling you to really take advantage of the apps, games, movies and TV shows in its expansive libraries.

The iPhone 6 Plus was expensive, but there’s no denying it was well received. Android fans will continue to berate Apple for its seemingly copy-cat ‘innovation’, but the plain fact is that the 6 Plus was a great handset, with all the power of the iPhone and a much longer battery life.

It’s no surprise then, that Apple has returned in 2015 with the refreshed iPhone 6S Plus.

The iPhone 6S Plus inherits the price tag of its predecessor, which means you’re looking at some lofty SIM-free figures. The 16GB model comes in at $749, £619, AU$1,129, but you’ll probably want a bit more storage than that.

In which case the 64GB iPhone 6S Plus will set you back $849, £699, AU$1,379, while the 128GB model – which we tried out for this review – is $949, £789, AU$1,529.

iPhone 6S Plus review

Unsurprisingly that puts the 6S Plus up against the top phones on the market, rubbing shoulders with the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+, Galaxy Note 5 and Sony Xperia Z5 Premium in terms of price.

It’s also gunning for the LG G4, Moto X Style, OnePlus 2 and Huawei Mate S with its 5.5-inch full HD display.

As you’ve probably guessed from the ‘S’ handle in its name, the 6S Plus is more of an incremental upgrade over the 6 Plus rather than a reimagining of Apple’s smartphone range.

It might be a stretch for current 6 Plus incumbents to justify upgrading to the new iPhone 6S Plus, but it’s got a few fancy features you won’t find on older iPhones.

iPhone 6S Plus review

Design

There’s no mistaking the incremental credentials of the iPhone 6S Plus when it comes to design. It looks identical to the iPhone 6 Plus, and I mean identical. Remember the iPhone 4 and 4S? It’s like that.

In fact, the only obvious marking that differentiates the 6S Plus is the small ‘S’ logo on the rear below the word ‘iPhone’ – although it will be covered by your hand 90% of the time (or 100% of the time by a case).

iPhone 6S Plus review

The sleek, rounded metal body continues to look and feel premium, with the build quality you’d expect from Apple. After last year’s unfortunate ‘bendgate‘ fiasco, Apple has looked to reassure people that its latest smartphone duo are tough. This isn’t strictly necessary, given that we’d have expected last year’s models to be strong enough to get through a couple of years of use, but some clarification was needed.

Both the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus sport what Apple is calling ‘7000 series aluminum’, which it claims is a lot stronger. Who wants to volunteer up their new iPhone 6S Plus for a bend test?

The 6S Plus is still a beast in the hand, with Apple’s insistence on the sizeable bezels above and below the display ensuring its supersized dimensions.

iPhone 6S Plus review

The 6S Plus is ever so slightly thicker than its predecessor, gaining an additional 0.2mm in girth. You won’t notice the addition, and I suspect Apple needed a little extra space to squeeze in its 3D Touch technology.

iPhone 6S Plus review

It’s also piled on the pounds, gaining 20g on the 6 Plus, which sees the iPhone 6S Plus tip the scales at a hefty 192g.

It’s fair to say, then, that you’ll notice the 6S Plus in your hand and pocket, and it can get a little tiring on the wrist to hold it for extended periods one-handed. Most of the time I found I had to employ both mitts to keep it steady and reach all areas of the screen.

The flat rear and rounded metal edges offer little in the way of grip, which makes the iPhone 6S Plus a bit of a slippery eel. A tight grasp is required to ensure it doesn’t make a dash for the floor, although Apple’s silicon case provides both protection and in-hand security for $39 / £29 / AU$59.

iPhone 6S Plus review

Apple’s stuck with the same button placements too, with power/lock on the right and the volume keys on the left, just below the mute switch. During one-handed use I found I needed to stretch a little to reach them, and those with smaller palms will struggle more.

There is a silver (actually, pink) lining though: the iPhone 6S Plus has a new color! In addition to gold, silver and space grey you can now pick up Apple’s latest supersized smartphone in a fetching shade of ‘Rose Gold’… also known as pink.

The familiar design of the iPhone 6S Plus will be comforting to the Apple faithful, while outsiders may look on with raised eyebrows, mumbling something about a lack of progression from the Cupertino firm. And they may have a point.

iPhone 6S Plus review

Display

On first viewing the screen on the iPhone 6S Plus is the same as its predecessor, with the 5.5-inch panel sporting a full HD resolution and 401ppi pixel density.

That makes it sharper than the smaller iPhone 6S, which only musters a 1334 x 750 resolution, resulting in 326ppi.

Text and images are crisp and clear, colors are vibrant and images pop, especially if you whack the screen brightness up (just keep an eye on the battery life if you do).

iPhone 6S Plus review

The IPS screen is covered in toughened glass with fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating, and it does a better job than most at keeping the display relatively print-free.

It’s not perfect, and there were still times I had to give it a quick wipe, but compared to many of its Android rivals the iPhone 6S Plus is less of a smudge magnet.

As I’ve mentioned, hold the iPhone 6S Plus side by side to the iPhone 6 Plus and there are no visible differences between the two, but the 6S Plus has a hidden bonus feature: 3D Touch.

3D Touch

3D Touch is Apple’s latest innovation, and it’s the headline feature in the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. The clever screen technology has previously been found in the Apple Watch and the track pad of the new MacBook Pro – it’s dubbed ‘Force Touch’ in both cases.

It enables the new iPhones to recognize the level of pressure you’re applying to the display, and react differently depending on how much force you’re using.

Apple isn’t the first manufacturer to bring this pressure-sensing tech to the screen of a smartphone, with the Huawei Mate S pipping the Cupertino firm to the post with a launch a week before the new iPhones.

Huawei’s implementation isn’t anywhere near as comprehensive as Apple’s however, with the iPhone 6S Plus offering a wide range of 3D Touch features throughout the interface.

Don’t get too carried away, as 3D Touch itself isn’t fully formed – the technology is still very much in its infancy, but it’s the potential it carries with it that’s the really exciting thing.

While Apple has baked 3D Touch functionality into a number of the native iPhone apps, we won’t really know its full potential until developers have had a good play with it, and built it into their apps and games.

But it does show there’s life in the old smartphone dog yet – adding in a new dimension of touch could really change things.

Peek and pop

At a very simple level, Apple has divided 3D Touch into two core functions: the nauseatingly-named ‘Peek’ and ‘Pop’. The best examples of these can be found in the Messages and Mail apps.

When presented with your inbox of read and unread messages, a forceful hold on a particular communication will see it expand into a preview bubble on the screen, giving you a quick peek at its content.

From here you have a few options. Releasing your finger will see the message minimize back to its slot in your inbox, while sliding your digit up will bring up options such as reply and forward.

iPhones 6S Plus review

Within the Mail app a left slide of your finger will archive the email, and a right slide marks it as unread.

If you fancy investigating a particular text or email further, increase your finger pressure on the display during your ‘peek’ and it will ‘pop’ into full screen, enabling you to scroll, read and react.

As I’ve said, 3D Touch is only enabled in some of Apple’s native apps for now, so trying the same tricks in apps such as WhatsApp will be fruitless.

iPhone 6S Plus review

This is a little frustrating, as it’s a feature you really need to work at in order to make it a natural experience when using the iPhone 6S Plus. You won’t have interacted with a smartphone in this way before, so at first it feels unnatural.

Once you get used to it, however, there’s a noticeable disconnect between the apps that do and don’t support it.

Learning curve

I found myself forgetting about 3D Touch for the first few days, as my muscle memory is so used to just tapping. The more I played though, the more the benefits of 3D Touch became apparent.

It makes one-handed operation easier, without the need for you to be constantly reaching to the top of the display for the back button – something which is tricky to do without a good deal of palm shuffling with the supersized iPhone 6S Plus.

I found I was able to flick through emails and messages a lot more efficiently, and the quick swipe sideways to delete or mark as unread in the email client was especially useful.

iPhone 6S Plus review

The peek and pop technique also works on images in the Camera and Photos apps, allowing you to get a larger thumbnail of a shot without having to leave the page you’re on. In Safari, 3D Touch allows you to peek URL links – showing you the site you’ll be taken to if you decide to click.

The iPhone 6S Plus can also pick out dates and times in your emails and text messages. They’ll appear as hyperlinks in your message stream, and if you press down on them you’ll be able to peak at your calendar for the time/day. It even recognizes the word “tomorrow”, giving you an overview of your schedule for the next day.

Super shortcuts

You can use 3D Touch to access shortcuts directly from the app icons on your home screen. Hold down on an icon with more force than you’d use to make it jiggle ready to move, and some will bring up a small menu of actions.

There’s no way to control the options which appear here, which is a little frustrating as there are a few options I’d like to see included, and others I don’t use.

Not all of Apple’s default apps have shortcuts built into them, but most do. For example, 3D Touch the camera icon and you’ll get four options: take selfie, record video, record slo-mo and take photo.

iPhone 6S Plus review

The last one is a little redundant as it provides the same function as tapping on the app and opening it normally, but having quick access to video and selfie modes will certainly suit some iPhone users.

Perform the same action on the Maps icon and you’ll be able to quickly get directions home, pin your location and easily share your location too.

Again, these take a little getting used to, but once you’re aware that the options exist it can make things a lot quicker.

Mighty pad

There’s greater control over your cursor when typing too, with the inclusion of iOS 9 on the iPhone 6S Plus allowing you to use 3D Touch for precision placement. Hold down on the keyboard and the characters will fade away, leaving you with a track pad to expertly line up the blinking vertical line.

It brings a new level precision to editing text, something which has been a little hit and miss on previous iPhone and iOS incarnations.

iPhone 6S Plus review

3D Touch also provides you a new way to access the multi-tasking menu, with a hard press and slide on the left edge of the display popping you into the panels of open applications.

This is pretty tricky to do when holding the iPhone 6S Plus one-handed, and I needed to employ both hands to get this to work. Once you’ve got both mitts on the handset it’s easier to just double tap the home button than try and hold down close enough to the edge for the function to trigger.

As I’ve said, 3D Touch is not yet fully formed and even Apple is still in an experimental phase with the technology. There’s a lot of exciting potential here, and I can’t wait to see what developers come up with to utilize the pressure sensitivity in their applications and games.

3D Touch is going to get better and better on the iPhone 6S Plus, so while early adopters may be a little frustrated at its limitations and lack of clear advantages, the future is bright for this chapter of iPhone technology.

Here’s our guide to how 3D Touch works on the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus.

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8CA_RbNXak

iOS 9 and performance

iOS 9

The iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus launch with iOS 9, although they’re technically not the first handsets to run it with the update rolling out over a week ahead of the new iPhones going on sale.

That said, both the 6S and 6S Plus have been made with iOS 9 in mind and it’s only on these two handsets where you’ll be able to experience the 3D Touch features built into Apple’s latest mobile operating system.

In terms of what else it means for the iPhone 6S Plus, it’s not a huge amount. Anyone who’s used iOS 8 will feel perfectly at home with iOS 9.

Of course there are still a host of changes, additions and upgrades under the hood, it’s just that most of them aren’t right up in your face.

iPhone 6S Plus review

One of the handiest new features on iOS 9 for me was the inclusion of battery icons for both the 6S Plus and my Apple Watch in the drop down notification panel. It’s simple, but delightfully useful.

Another clever feature is the lock screen app recognition. Every time I turn on my Bluetooth headphones which have already been paired with the 6S Plus, (or plug in a set of ear buds) the Spotify icon appears in the bottom left of the lock screen. Swipe up from this icon and you’ll be instantly transported to the app.

This is based not on a setting I’ve manually altered, but the frequency I use the various music apps on the iPhone 6S Plus. If I frequented Beats Radio more than Spotify, I’d see the Apple Music app icon on the lock screen instead.

There’s also an easier way to access Apple Pay with iOS 9 too – with a double tap of the home screen when locked bringing up your card on screen, allowing you to tap and pay at contactless terminals.

The Touch ID fingerprint scanner is now twice as fast on the iPhone 6S Plus, allowing your digits to be read and accepted in a speedy fashion when you’re at the checkout. It’s really impressive, with even the lightest touches being registered in normal use.

On screen and you’ll find Passbook is dead, with it being replaced by Wallet. It’s essentially the same app, but now it stores your bank cards alongside your boarding passes and Starbucks loyalty coupons.

iPhone 6S Plus review

Jump into your home screen and besides the iOS 9 wallpaper it’s business as usual on screen – that is until you slide from left to right. Here you’ll find Siri Suggestions – basically contacts and applications frequently used by you depending on your location and time of day.

Below this box you get a news feed, which again tries to adapt itself to your reading habits. It’s all pretty basic stuff, and I didn’t find myself venturing that way all too often.

Keep an eye out for iOS 9.1 update too as it’ll bring with it new emoji including taco, unicorn face, hot dog, popcorn, cheese wedge and the one everyone has been waiting for, middle finger. What a time to be alive.

One of the bigger upgrades in iOS 9 is Siri, and the personal assistant is now always-on. What does this mean? It means you can say ‘Hey Siri’ at any point, and as long as the iPhone 6S Plus can hear you, your assistant will spring into action.

This is useful is you’re driving, or you’re too lazy to get up off the sofa and grab your phone from the other side of the room. Siri is also smarter, so it’ll be able to understand more of your requests.

Location-based knowledge has been improved, as well as its understanding of words such as “this”, allowing you to link commands together while you chat away to your piece of technology.

iPhone 6S Plus review

Apple’s updated its motion co-processor from the M8 chip in the 6 Plus to the M9 in the iPhone 6S Plus, giving you more accurate readings in the Health app, which tracks you steps, flights of stairs climbed and calories burned.

The useful Control Center remains on the iPhone 6S Plus, available to pull up from the bottom of the screen at any point giving you instant access to a variety of quick settings including screen brightness, music controls, volume and a torch.

Reachability also makes the leap to iOS 9, allowing you to access the top of the large screen on the iPhone 6S Plus by allowing it to jump down half way with a light double tap of the home button.

As mentioned in the 6 Plus review, it’s a feature which is certainly useful, yet lacks the normal Apple implementation with a finish which feels clunky in a world of slickness.

iOS 9.2

You can now download and upgrade the iPhone 6S Plus to iOS 9.2. It’s only an incremental upgrade but it brings with it a few different updates that change the iOS experience.

Apple News now has a Top Stories section so you can get the most important news of the day in one easy hit. There are a few tweaks within Apple Music making it much easier to create playlists as well.

There’s also a new Mail Drop option within the Mail app to help you send larger attachments in your messages. Plus peek and pop 3D Touch functionality is now available on iBooks. That’s all accompanied by a variety of bug fixes that make the whole iOS 9 software that little bit better.

Performance

The iPhone 6S Plus sports Apple’s latest power unit, the A9 processor. This is a progression from the A8 chip found in 2014’s iPhone duo, and according to Geekbench we’re looking at a 1.82GHz dual-core set up with 2GB of RAM.

Apple claims the new 64-bit A9 offering is 70% faster than its predecessor at CPU tasks, while it bests graphically intensive GPU tasks by a whopping 90%.

Those bold claims aren’t exactly noticeable on screen, but that’s mainly due to the fact the 6 Plus wasn’t exactly a slouch when it came to general operation.

iPhone 6S Plus review

The iPhone 6S Plus feels just as fluid, and I was able to merrily skip between home screens, folders and applications. There were a few slight hiccups along the way, with the 6S Plus just taking a touch of extra time to sometimes load and exit apps – but it was a rarity and usually to do with animations.

Another odd quirk I experienced a few times during the review period was to do with screen rotation. If I picked the 6S Plus up landscape the home screen would be in landscape when I unlocked the handset.

No problem there, but on rotating the handset back to portrait it sometimes wouldn’t spin the display with the movement. It required me to hit the power/lock key and then unlock again to sort out the issue. It’s something which should be easily fixed in a software update – keep an eye out for iOS 9.0.1 – but in the meantime it’s rather jarring.

While it’s very much business as usual on screen, running the iPhone 6S Plus through the Geekbench test revealed just how much of an upgrade its new engine is.

iPhone 6S Plus review

The 6 Plus scored an average of 2911, but that’s been blown out of the water by the 6S Plus which managed an average multi-core score of 4309.

That tops both the HTC One M9 (3803) and Sony Xperia Z3+ (4057), while remaining in touching distance of the impressive Samsung Galaxy S6 (4850).

There’s no shortage of power in the iPhone 6S Plus then, and I found games loaded in good time and ran smoothly – even graphically-intensive titles such as Real Racing 3.

It comfortably performs with the best handsets currently on the market, and you should be able to throw pretty much anything at the 6S Plus without it even blinking.

Battery life

Apple hasn’t revealed the battery capacity for the iPhone 6S Plus – it never does – so it’s difficult to say just now how big the power pack inside the device is. The iPhone 6 Plus had a 2915mAh battery and considering the near identical dimensions the smart money is on the same again.

The Cupertino firm has quoted the same battery life statistics for this handset as it did the 6 Plus, which includes up to 24 hours talk time, 14 hours of HD video and up to 80 hours of music.

In real life usage you’re unlikely to get close to any of these figures, but I was pleased to find battery performance followed very much in the same footsteps as the 6 Plus.

iPhone 6S Plus review

I regularly got to the end of the day with around 30% left in the tank, and that included emails, calls, texts, social media, games, music streaming and web browsing throughout the day.

Play a game or watch a movie for an extended period of time though and the large 5.5-inch display on the iPhone 6S Plus will start to take a toll on the battery. The relatively basic New Star Soccer managed to gobble away a decent chunk of power, but I suspect most of that was from the screen.

I ran the techradar 90 minute battery test video on the iPhone 6S Plus, with the screen on full brightness and accounts syncing in the background over Wi-Fi. From 100% the battery dropped to 78% by the end of the video, losing 22% of life in the process.

iPhone 6S Plus review

That’s an improved showing over the 6 Plus which witnessed a drop of 27%, while the iPhone 6 lost 26%. It appears the A9 processor is a little more power efficient than the A8, and the 6S Plus didn’t heat up much during the test.

It’s curious as the rumors are the battery is smaller, and the iPhone 6S performed poorly in the same test – dropping 30% during the video test.

A new feature which arrived with iOS 9 is Apple’s own low power mode – a function which has been present on Android handsets for years now.

This will be music to many Apple fan’s ears, as fast discharging iPhones have been a worry for a number of users in recent times.

iPhone 6S Plus review

In a bid to save power the iPhone 6S Plus turns off background mail, the always-on Hey Siri command, automatic downloads and some visual effects in the interface. You can turn the function on by diving into Settings > Battery, although it will prompt you to turn it on when you get below 20% juice left.

You’ll know when you’ve got low power mode switched on as the battery icon will be yellow instead of green. I switched this on a few times during my time with the iPhone 6S Plus and it kept me partying past 4am (after coming off charge at 7am).

It’s not as fully formed as Sony’s or Samsung’s power saving modes, but it’s certainly a step in the right direct and any form of power saving will be welcomed by the Apple faithful.

Camera

What do people like doing with their phone more than anything (well, apart from browsing Twitter or Facebook when they clearly have something else to do)? That’s right, take pictures!

The iPhone 6 Plus has a decent 8MP camera, but Apple realized that it needed to step it up when the likes of Samsung and Sony are unleashing 16MP and 23MP sensors, and actually finding a good reason to have that high a number in there.

Just 12MP might not sound like a lot, but it means that the shutter speed is faster than ever, the clarity looks crystal clear on the larger 5.5-inch screen and the overall photography standard from the iPhone 6S Plus is improved once more.

iPhone 6S Plus review

Round the front the FaceTime camera has been boosted from 1.2MP to 5MP, which dramatically enhances selfie and video call quality. It also benefits from what Apple is calling ‘Retina flash’, which uses the 5.5-inch display on the iPhone 6S Plus as a light.

The screen flashes up to three times brighter than normal as it mimics a LED flash, lighting up your face for a well lit selfie.

With Apple’s quest for svelte smartphone design, it’s not been able to fully fit the camera inside the body, so as with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the iPhone 6S Plus sports a small camera bulge on its rear.

iPhone 6S Plus review

This protrusion means the camera lens is more susceptible to wear and tear, but Apple has made a big deal about the super tough Sapphire glass it’s covered it in to make sure it’s protected.

Open up the camera app on the iPhone 6S Plus and the interface is instantly recognizable, with the horizontal bar of camera modes and large centralized shutter key.

Compared to its Android rivals the camera on the 6S Plus has a very limited selection of features, but Apple’s going for simplicity and takes the adjustments into its own hands in an attempt to give you the best photo, every time, with minimum fuss.

iPhone 6S Plus review

There is some light control over the flash, HDR and timer, but the former two are best left on auto most of the time.

The new feature here is the Live Photos element, where the iPhone 6S Plus takes a 1.5 second video before and after your snap to bring a kind of Harry Potter element to things, which is cool – if not needed.

You can switch on Live Photos by tapping the middle icon in the top bar of the camera app, and in fact you don’t have to actually turn it off. It’s impressive the shutter speed isn’t impacted when you’re doing this. It’s still as rapid as ever and the pictures are pretty amazing for a 12MP sensor.

iPhone 6S Plus review

When you head into the Photos app and starting scrolling through your shots, those which have been snapped with Live Photos will give you a second movement to let you know they’re more than just a standard still.

If you fancy watching the full clip you’ll need to ‘3D Touch’ the shot in order to view it. In good light, and with a steady hand I was able to get some rather neat Live Photos – but it’s something which is ultimately a bit hit and miss.

On occasions where my hands wasn’t overly steady the result often looks blurred and cut up, while at other times part of the clip was me lowering the phone after the shot – making everything look like amateur hour.

Apple has confirmed it has a software update in the pipeline which will allow the 6S Plus to detect the camera drop, and edit it out of the final clip. Until then, you’ll just have to be patient after hitting the shutter. And make sure you brace the handset before hitting the shutter.

iPhone 6S Plus review

The iPhone 6S Plus also has something the smaller iPhone doesn’t: optical image stabilization.

The technology uses motors to make sure the sensor stays in place. With more stability the camera can let in more light without shaking – and with the iPhone 6S Plus, the same thing can be used with the video as well.

It’s nothing new – a lot like the 4K video powers that the two new iPhones have been imbued with – but it does make the video a bit nicer to look at.

iPhone 6S Plus review

The iPhone 6S Plus is incredibly easy to use when it comes to taking snaps, and I found that most of the time it did a great job of working out the lighting conditions and adjusting settings behind the scenes for me.

If you do require some fine tuning then tap to focus and a rudimental brightness control can be dabbled with on screen.

In terms of results the iPhone 6S Plus is a step up from the 6 Plus, with larger, sharper images making for better viewing and keeping Apple competitive in the highly-charged, megapixel-dominated camera phone war.

Camera samples

iPhones 6S Plus review

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iPhones 6S Plus review

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iPhones 6S Plus review

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iPhones 6S Plus review

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iPhones 6S Plus review

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iPhone 6S Plus review

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iPhone 6S Plus review

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iPhone 6S Plus review

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iPhone 6S Plus review

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Music, movies and gaming

When it comes to consuming movies, TV shows and mobile games there’s no better handset in Apple’s arsenal than the iPhone 6S Plus.

Its large, full HD display and punchy A9 processor means it has the chops to be a top entertainer and it doesn’t disappoint. With Apple’s own services available via iTunes, the App Store and the new Music app, the 6S Plus rocks up with everything it needs to keep you going on the go.

There are no expandable storage options, so you’ll want to ensure you pick up an iPhone 6S Plus to satisfy your needs. The 16GB model is the cheapest, but you’ll actually have less than that to use after the operating system is taken into account.

For those of you with already bulging iTunes libraries your only real options are the 64GB and 128GB models. Pricier sure, but at least you’re unlikely to run out of space.

Music

Apple’s new Music app now boats Beats Radio and Apple Music streaming alongside your existing catalogue of tunes.

Apple Music is a rival to the likes of Spotify, with Apple offering first time users a three month free trial before billing you monthly for the streaming service.

Head over to the Radio icon though and you’ll be able to listen to the Beats 1 radio channel for free – although the featured stations and audio performances require an Apple Music subscription.

iPhone 6S Plus review

If you fancy things a little more traditional, Apple’s iTunes library is still at your beck and call, with a wide variety of tracks, artists and albums ready and waiting to be purchased and downloaded.

The single speaker on the base of the iPhone 6S Plus kicks out a decent volume and audio quality is actually pretty good considering it’s a smartphone speaker. Trouble is I often found my hand covering it up, especially in landscape mode, which detracts from the experience.

Plug in a set of headphones though (or turn on your paired Bluetooth cans) and the iPhone 6S Plus provides crisp, rich audio directly into your ears.

It’s a bit large for strapping to your arm for running, don’t forget – I tried it a couple of times and unless you get a specific case you’ll need to cram it into the universal ones. But then again, you know what you’re getting into when you’re buying a phablet.

Movies

Movies and TV shows can really take advantage of the screen real estate available on the iPhone 6S Plus.

The full HD resolution and bright, vibrant display makes videos look excellent and I was comfortably able to enjoy shows while on the train to work.

It’s no different to the iPhone 6 Plus, so if you’re wondering whether or not to upgrade from the old Plus to the new Plus, in this respect it’s not worth it.

iPhone 6S Plus review

Due to the size and weight of the iPhone 6S Plus it can get a little tiring on the wrists if you’re having to hold it up for a long time – but it’s not a big problem.

You’ll find all your moving pictures in the dedicated Videos app, and once you’ve tapped on a film or TV show to play you’ll be given basic video player controls to manage playback.

If you’re in need of something new to watch just head over to iTunes where a host of options are waiting for you to buy and rent.

Gaming

For now, gaming on the iPhone 6S Plus is pretty much identical to how it was on the 6 Plus. Load times are fast, game play fluid and visuals eye catching – but the 6S Plus holds a lot of additional potential.

Its newer A9 chip means that it’s better future proofed than its predecessor, but the real talking point is 3D Touch.

iPhone 6S Plus review

As developers start to utilize the pressure sensing tech in their games, we’ll see a whole raft of new interactions and experiences which will only be possible on the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus.

For now, you’ll get an excellent gaming experience on the iPhone 6S Plus, but you’ll also be safe in the knowledge that it will get even better over the coming months and years.

Competition

iPhone 6S

iPhone 6S

The smaller brother of the 6S Plus, the iPhone 6S is Apple’s main flagship device with a screen size more suited to the Apple faithful, but with most of the same features.

It helps that the 6S is cheaper than the Plus, although screen resolution isn’t as high and you don’t get optical image stabilization on its rear facing 12MP camera. It fits more snugly in the palm, and it’s noticeably lighter making the 6S far more portable.

You’ll find the same operating system, 3D Touch capabilities and power inside the iPhone 6S and for many it’ll be the much more attractive proposition.

That said, the larger, full HD screen on the iPhone 6S Plus is rather lovely, and lets you take full advantage of movies and games.

iPhone 6 Plus

iPhone 6 Plus

Apple is continuing to sell its first ever phablet, and you can now get the iPhone 6 Plus for less thanks to the 6S Plus’ arrival.

You will miss out on 3D Touch and optical image stabilization in your video recordings, but apart from those omissions there’s very little between these two.

The iPhone 6 Plus has already received iOS 9, so on screen they’re practically identical, although it is packing older power which may become more noticeable over time.

You can’t get hold of the 128GB model or gold color anymore though, so you’re stuck with 16GB or 64GB in either silver or space grey.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+

When it comes to looks and power the iPhone 6S Plus has it all, but it’s not the only one. The dual-screen Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ sports a head-turning futuristic design and meaty octa-core processor with 4GB of RAM, ensuring it gives Apple’s latest phablet a real run for its money.

The S6 Edge+ comes with a similar lofty price tag, and a larger 5.7-inch display. Despite its bigger screen, the Samsung is actually smaller, thinner and lighter and the 5.5-inch 6S Plus.

Of course if you’re seriously considering the 6S Plus, chances are you picking between it and the 6S with not even a consideration for the Android ecosystem. That said, if you are tempted by a change then the Galaxy S6 Edge+ is a real heavyweight contender.

Sony Xperia Z5 Premium

Sony Xperia Z5 Premium

Sony’s latest phone is the first to pack a 4K display on such a tiny device. It looks beautiful, but does damage the battery life quite a bit. You’re not going to get very good daily charge here at all, but if you want a much clearer image than the iPhone 6S Plus, this is certainly worth a look.

The fingerprint scanner on the Xperia Z5 Premium sits on the side of the phone and works perfectly. But Touch ID is great as well now, so it’s not really a big selling point.

The Xperia Z5 Premium comes with a 23MP camera on the back with an ultra-fast auto-focus that can snap moving objects really easily.

It is a big phone, but it’s about the same in the hand as the iPhone 6S Plus. This phone is also going to cost you about the same kind of money as an iPhone 6S Plus, so it’s a difficult decision. One of the big questions you need to answer is whether you prefer iOS or if you’d like the Android software.

OnePlus 2

OnePlus 2

If you’re in the market for a 5.5-inch smartphone but you budget doesn’t quite stretch to Apple’s or Samsung’s asking price you needn’t give it.

One option you have is the Force Touch enabled Huawei Mate S, but if you’re looking for real bang for your buck you’ll want to check out the OnePlus 2.

It has a 6S Plus equaling 5.5-inch full HD, while sporting a body which is smaller and lighter that its fruity rival.

You still get a fingerprint scanner, although it’s not as advanced as Touch ID, while the rear facing camera round the back boasts a 13MP lens and optical image stabilization.

Corners have been cut to keep the price down, with no expandable storage, removable battery or NFC present, and when it comes to design the iPhone 6S Plus is light-years ahead.

Verdict

Just as big, but a little better. Apple has reinvigorated its phablet without rewriting the playbook thanks to its smart 3D Touch technology and a more power under the hood.

It’s not the upgrade some will have been hoping for, and the apparent lack of headline grabbing new features leaves the iPhone 6S Plus open for criticism, so has Apple done enough to keep things fresh?

iPhone 6S Plus review

We liked

I was a little disappointed to find Apple had stuck with a full HD resolution, but take nothing away from the display on the iPhone 6S Plus. It’s bright, clear and vibrant and I had no issues when watching movies and playing games.

The power from the new A9 processor is impressive, and means the 6S Plus can handle pretty much anything you throw at it.

What I really like however is 3D Touch, which is slightly strange to say as it’s not yet fully-formed. It’s the potential behind the technology which has really got me hooked, and as developers start building it into their apps and games the iPhone 6S Plus is only going to get better and better.

We disliked

Apple’s made the iPhone 6S Plus bigger (slightly) and heavier (considerably), meaning it’s still a beast to hold and very difficult to use one handed.

For those who walk down the street tapping away on their iPhone with one hand and sipping from a frappe mochachino in their other, the 6S Plus is the wrong phone for you.

You’ll also need a small fortune to take one home with you, and while it’s certainly not alone in the high-priced stakes, it does price itself into a particular market out of many people’s reach.

It’s still early days for iOS 9 too, but there are a few small gremlins in the system which result in a slightly jarring experience. It’s nothing a software update shouldn’t be able to fix, but until Apple rolls it out they could be rather annoying.

The battery life isn’t increased over the previous model either, although given the decent performance from 2014’s model that’s nowhere near as much of an issue as it is with the iPhone 6S.

iPhone 6S Plus review

Verdict

Apple’s second generation phablet was always going to be an incremental upgrade, so it’s no surprise that a number of comparisons can be drawn between the iPhone 6S Plus and its predecessor.

Side by side they’re practically impossible to tell apart, but it’s what you can’t see that makes the difference.

A combination of excellent power and an exciting new technology in 3D Touch means the iPhone 6S Plus is set up for the future much better than the 6 Plus.

But its merits are hanging on that potential. As it stands, it does very little over the 6 Plus and that makes it really difficult to recommend at this time. That’s not to say that the 6S Plus isn’t a brilliant phone – it offers the solid, stylish Apple experience and chucks in a higher-res screen and better battery life, which you can’t complain about.

For iPhone 6 Plus owners, there’s no benefit making the leap to the 6S Plus. You’d be better off waiting for the iPhone 7 Plus. Those with older, smaller iPhones looking for their big break however will not be disappointed by the 6S Plus, as long as they can afford it.

However, the more frugal among us looking for the iPhablet experience won’t find a huge amount of difference between the 6S Plus and the 6S (3D Touch aside) and would easily be able to live with the older phone while still getting a top iPhone experience.

First reviewed: September 2015

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