8 Reasons to Get Excited About the Arrival of the iPhone 6s

The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus have arrived, and now might be a good time to review some of the most important features of these new phones, in case you're trying to decide whether to get one. Apple says they're selling well, so it appears that this model will be every bit as successful as previous generations. Here are the eight new features we're most excited about.

1. 3D Touch

The most notable feature of the new iPhones may be 3D Touch. Apple has long pioneered new approaches to interacting with technology: the easy-to-use Macintosh OS, the simple controls on the iPod, the multi-touch interface of the iPhone, the naturalness of Siri. Each has been transforming.

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And Apple feels that 3D Touch is its next big innovation. For the first time, the iPhone can recognize the pressure of your touch and respond differently depending on whether you touch lightly or more firmly. These new gestures, called Peek and Pop, make your navigation more efficient. If you're scanning your list of emails and want to take a quick look at the content of one, you can tap lightly to see a preview. This is the Peek. Then having peeked at the message, if you choose to open it, you press more firmly. This is the Pop gesture. Similarly, if there's a link to a web page that may interest you, you can Peek to get a quick preview without opening the page. And if it interests you,  you can then Pop to open it in Safari. 3D Touch also includes a new gesture for viewing open apps. Instead of double tapping the Home button, you simply apply some pressure to the edge of the display, and then slide to select an app.

This feature is available in all of Apple's apps of course, and the good news is that it's also open to developers to integrate into their third-party apps. It may take some time, though, for them to build this feature into their apps.

2. Quick Actions

The other major new feature of 3D Touch is Quick Actions. When you're in a home screen, you can touch an app icon lightly to see a popup menu of the most common actions. Touch lightly on the Camera icon, and the popup menu gives you the options to Take a Selfie, Record Video, Record Slo-mo, and Take Photo. Then press more firmly on the option you want. Again, this feature is primarily available in Apple's apps but will also gradually be coming to third-party apps.

3. Taptic Engine

Not only does the display on the new iPhone recognize pressure, but it also gives haptic feedback via its Taptic Engine that's shorter, more distinct, and more nuanced than the vibration you may be accustomed to. When you use the Peek gesture it gives a very short vibration of 10 milliseconds to indicate which gesture you've used. That's 10 one-thousandths of a second. The Pop gesture elicits a 16-millisecond vibration. The Taptic Engine, which first appeared in the Apple Watch, enables these extremely short signals. This haptic feedback is also used for Notifications. Early reviews say that the feedback from the Taptic Engine is stronger and more noticeable and more pleasant than earlier iterations of the technology.

4. Camera

The camera got a big upgrade in the iPhone 6s, including a 12-megapixel sensor that can shoot 4K video. It's getting considerable praise in early reviews, which say that the still images approach DSLR quality. The color balance and detail is comparable to the tonality of RAW photos, and there's not the excessive sharpening or saturation seen on some other smartphones. 

Reviews have also mentioned the how the fast shutter speed allows you to rapidly take photos. In addition, the optical image stabilization on the iPhone 6s plus enables very stable 4K video. The front-facing camera has been boosted from 1.5 megapixels to 5 megapixels — a big jump. Plus, the display itself is used as a flash, briefly lighting up three times brighter than usual. Reviews say it's surprisingly effective, avoiding the red eye and overexposure that can result from flash bulbs.

5. Live Photos

Enabled by default, Live Photo lets your still photos move — almost like a short three-second video. It records 1.5 seconds on either side of the photo, so that if you take a photo of rippling waves, you not only get your still photo, but also a 3D Touch on the photo shows you the rippling as it happened. Live Photo even includes sound, such that you can hear the rippling waves. Essentially, it's similar to an animated gif, but using the jpeg format. It uses space in an efficient way, with early reports saying that it approximately doubles the file size. Live Photos can be viewed on other iOS devices running iOS 9, and also on the Apple Watch and Mac. While Live Photo currently records 1.5 seconds before and after your still photo, Apple will reportedly be releasing a software update that will more intelligently select which 3-second interval to keep.

6. Speed

The iPhone 6s has a new A9 processor, and early speed test shows that it's even faster than the iPad Air 2, which has the powerful A8X processor. The single-core Geekbench score was 2413, and the multi-core score was 4293. The new phones also have faster LTE and Wi-Fi, faster Touch ID, and faster graphics.

7. Hey Siri

The hands-free option of invoking Siri by saying "Hey Siri" has already been available, but in the new iPhone 6s your phone no longer needs to be connected to a power source in order for it to work. Your kind assistant is always there listening, waiting patiently to help you. However, the feature is turned off by default. You can go to Settings > General > Siri to turn it on. After you turn it on, your iPhone will lead you through a brief setup of Siri so that it accurately recognizes when you want Siri's attention. 

8. Rose Gold

Apple calls it Rose Gold, some call it pink. The iPhone 6s now has a new color option in addition to the previous silver, space gray, and gold.

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Author Details

Jim Karpen's picture

Author Details

Jim Karpen

Jim Karpen holds a Ph.D. in literature and writing, and has a love of gizmos. His doctoral dissertation focused on the revolutionary consequences of digital technologies and anticipated some of the developments taking place in the industry today. Jim has been writing about the Internet and technology since 1994 and has been using Apple's visionary products for decades.