How do you beat the Samsung’s and Sony’s of the world when they’re competing hard with top smartphones sporting solid cameras? You join them and up your game, which is exactly what Apple is doing in the 2015 iPhones.
This week, the iPhone you bought last week, or even possibly the one you upgraded a year ago upon release is now well and truly out of date, as Apple has taken the covers off its upgrades to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
As such, you’ll find two new flagships in the Apple range, with the company doing what it does every year and taking the spots of the original devices before moving the previous generations down the line.
For the next year — from September 2015 to what we can only assume will be September 2016 — the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will receive an “s” on the back, with some upgrades on the inside, at the camera level, and with a change underneath the screen.
With that “s”, they will now be called the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, and these are likely to be upgrade paths for people with an iPhone 5, 5s, 5c, or even a model for people who just have to have the latest and greatest.
So what’s inside these new phones?
Let’s start with an upgrade set of insides, with the A8 from last year’s iPhone getting upgraded to a faster A9, with is 64-bit and offers better performance and what Apple suggests should be better battery life.
The casing of the phone has changed a bit, too, with a higher grade aluminium (7000 series) there to address any complaints of bending in the various phones, while the glass for the display has been made more solid with the same “ion-strengthened” technology used for the first Apple Watch, the ones that aren’t coated in sapphire glass, anyway.
Under that glass, you’ll find the same screen from last year, with either a 4.7 inch 1334×750 display in the iPhone 6s (326 pixels per inch) or a 5.5 inch 1920×1080 screen in the iPhone 6s Plus (401 pixels per inch).
Where Apple is changing things up is the inclusion of a “Force Touch” panel, the same technology the company used in the Apple Watch, which it has renamed “3D Touch” for this release. This concept relies on Apple’s “Taptic Engine” which allows your display to pick up on varying levels of push to do different things, such as the “Peek and Pop” feature Apple is programming into iOS 9 which will let you take a closer look at emails or webpages by pushing in a little harder, with a preview popping up.
We’re not quite sure what else this feature will do just yet, and right now it comes off as a bit of a gimmick, though apple seems to suggest it might save time allowing you to look at something without having to go fully fledged into the app, which given you can just leave by pressing the home button doesn’t seem as big a deal.
Still, it’s a new phone, so it needs something wow, and a screen with responsive pressure is one of those things.
A bigger “wow” factor, however, will likely come from the improvements to the cameras on the phone, and this time, it’s both the front and the back that benefit.
As such, you’ll find a jump from 8 megapixels all the way up to 12 megapixels on the back, with some sharp auto-focus technology packaged in, and support for 4K Ultra HD video capture.
That last one — 4K capture — is one of those things we never thought we’d see an iPhone handle, and means that anyone with an iPhone 6s or 6s Plus will soon be able to capture video in 4K, edit it on an iMac 27 with Retina or Mac Pro, and show it on a 4K TV.
Capturing 4K video also means 8 megapixel images can be extracted from the video, similar to what Panasonic did in its game-changing G7 mirror-less camera.
These 12 megapixel images will also work in conjunction with the 3D Touch technology under the panel, and if you capture a “Live Photo”, you’ll be able to push a little harder on the screen and see that image come to life, with a moment or two before and after the image captured in the process at the same time.
The front camera isn’t missing out on a change, either, and this is one of those things we’re surprised it took Apple as long to update as it has.
You see, on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, the front-facing camera has jumped from 1.2 megapixels all the way up to 5 megapixels.
That’ll mean good things for anyone looking for better quality and less noisy selfies, but to assist, Apple is also making the screen flash a bright colour to act as a flash, a concept we’ve seen LG (among others) try in the past on its devices.
“The only thing that has changed with iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus is everything,” said Phillip Schiller, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, adding that “3D Touch lets users interact with iPhone in entirely new and fun ways, and the innovative Live Photos brings your pictures to life.”
“These are the most advanced iPhones ever, with 7000 series aluminium, ion-strengthened glass, the new 64-bit A9 chip, 12-megapixel iSight and 5-megapixel FaceTime HD cameras, faster Touch ID, LTE and Wi-Fi. Customers are going to love them.”
The good news is that unlike every other Apple announcement made this week, we actually have pricing and availability for these models, with the 4.7 inch iPhone 6s fetching a price of $1079 for the 16GB model, $1229 for the 64GB model, and $1379 for the 128GB edition.
Meanwhile, the 5.5 inch iPhone 6s Plus grabs a price of $1229 for the 16GB edition, $1379 for the 64GB model, and $1529 for the 128GB model.
Both editions will come in gold, silver, space grey, and a new rose gold metallic finish, and all will come with 4G LTE, 802.11ac, Bluetooth, GPS, and a fingerprint sensor.
There are two differences between the models, however, aside for screen sizes, and that’s battery life and optical image stabilisation, and just like last year, the iPhone 6s Plus has the edge, with a bigger battery and optical image stabilisation balancing the camera when you capture video, with this last feature missing on the iPhone 6s.
If neither the iPhone 6s or 6s Plus grab you, Apple will be keeping the previous generation around, with the iPhone 6 still set to be offered for $929 in 16GB or $1069 in 64GB, while the iPhone 6 Plus will grab a price of $1079 for the 16GB model and $1229 for the 64GB variant.
And for some reason, there will still be the smaller 4 inch iPhone 5s sticking in Apple’s catalogue, which you’ll find for $749 for 16GB or $829 for 32GB.
Apple’s older phones are available now, of course, but Apple’s new phones — the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus — will be available on Friday, September 25.