A grand phone: Apple’s iPhone 6s Plus reviewed

Using the “force”

Trust Apple to throw in something that could be confused with magic. After all, the great Arthur C. Clarke did say that ”any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”, and in a year where we’re about to see another “Star Wars” movie, we suppose it does make sense to include something that Apple was at one point calling the “force”.

Back when the Apple Watch came out earlier in the year, Apple called it “Force Touch” technology, in fact, though it has a new name in the iPhone, where the company has just made it more explanative for what’s going on.

No longer using the force, this is now “3D Touch”, with the same underlying principle as to what it does in the Watch, just made bigger for the phone instead of the watch.

Depending on the size of your display, the 3D Touch panel provides pressure sensitivity, picking up on the amount of pressure you push against the screen with and interpreting it with an action.


You might push down on an email and see a preview of that email before it totally opens, or you could push down on the camera icon and get the option to go straight into capturing a selfie. As you push, the phone pushes back, providing a small vibration to tell you what you’re doing, highlighting the difference between a push and a touch, because the two are different.

Essentially, the touch you’ve been doing for ages is the full on click you might make with a mouse, and touching something equates to a selection. In contrast, the push via a 3D Touch panel is more like a right click, providing you with a set of options, like if you right click on a file.


These might shave a quarter of a second or even half a second off what you do on your phone, but we’re not talking about a lot of time for most of the things you’re doing, though it’s clear more apps need to add support for this, because right now, it’s just a small selection of Apple apps that work this way, and generally the Apple apps at that.

Over time, we expect this to increase, and given that you could throw in some useful shortcuts, it might do more than save time.

Some of the useful 3D touch shortcuts...
Some of the useful 3D touch shortcuts…
...and some of the less useful shortcuts.
…and some of the less useful shortcuts.

For instance, the camera has a 3D Touch shortcut for “take a selfie”, which will be super handy for those individuals keen to do just that quickly. In this example, pressing a little deeper on the camera icon reveals a faster way of getting to the image mode than opening the camera app and swiping to the right section, though again, we’re not talking about a huge leap.

It’s not perfect, that said, and what generally is in a first generation product?

However, one area might actually get you to stumble and scratch your head as to how it got out of Apple’s R&D labs, and that’s uninstalling apps.

Ever since the iPhone supported apps in its second incarnation, the iPhone 3G, Apple has made is pretty easy to uninstall apps. To do this, you had to hold an app icon down, wait for it to wiggle, and then press the “x” that would appear. Easy.

With 3D Touch, Apple hasn’t technically changed this, so that’s still the case, but it’s made a little more awkward now that the screen is trying to detect pressure, so you kind of have to press the icon while not exerting any force, making for a bit of a trying time if you want to get rid of that app you swore you’d never play again (*shakes fist at cloud*).

It’s not easy and it is a little cumbersome, and half the time when you’re trying to get rid of an app, you’ll end up doing one of the deeper touches that 3D Touch can and will invariably do.


But it’s a good start, and 3D Touch does do something useful beyond the having off half a second you might expect it to do: it makes the iPhone 6S Plus (and by extension the iPhone 6S) controllable with one hand, allowing you to keep your other hand at bay doing something else — say holding onto something stable when you’re facing erratic public transport — and still control the phone.

If anything, that’s what 3D Touch feels like it has been made to best better than anything else: the burden of using two hands that big phones have brought back to the table.

Small phones could be driven by one hand quite easily, but big phones aren’t quite as easy, and once you near 5 inch screen sizes, one-handed operation more or less gets thrown out the window.

3D Touch brings it back, however, and if you prefer the idea of a single-handed phone, you’ll love what the 6S and 6S Plus bring to the table.



The “S” releases of the iPhone have never been the ones consumers raved about. Maybe it was the fact that it was harder to tell what had changed, a fact owing nicely to the idea that the body stayed the same, and that the features were more incremental than anything else.

Apple likes to say, however, that some of its most important changes came from its S releases, generations that are basically half steps before the company goes back and redesigns the body, the thing that most people know and recognise as being totally new. For instance, Apple’s voice assistant “Siri” came from an S release, and the fingerprint reader came from an S release.

Now we’re seeing 3D Touch and camera upgrades, and these are definitely both worthy additions to an already excellent phone.

In the iPhone 6S Plus, the improvements are most welcome, and while it seems like an improved camera system was the one Apple was always destined to bring in — because customers have been asking for more megapixels on both the front and back for a while now — 3D Touch is the one that it feels like was made for the S generation itself.

All up, however, and the phone just works, providing a more complete iPhone experience under a large screen with two cameras that needed an upgrade and a hint as to what the future of one-handed design looks like.

If you’re in the market for a big phone and like Apple, you won’t be disappointed, provided you can deal with that high price. Highly recommended.

Value for money
Ease of Use
Reader Rating0 Votes
Very well built; Performance is top notch; Battery can get two days; Camera upgrades are worth checking out and make the phone highly competitive against other flagships; 3D Touch adds an extra level of control, allowing one handed operation; Fingerprint scanner is even faster than before;
Expensive; No way of getting 4K video off the phone and over to a 4K TV easily; No upgradeable storage, as is typical with Apple;