iPhone 6S reviewed: Approaching perfection

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By now you will have heard the phrase, “the only thing that’s changed is everything” alongside an advert for the iPhone 6S. Apple has a knack for great advertising so we were curious to see just how much Apple had changed its flagship smartphone.

We already know the iPhone 6S features a revamped camera, a brand new CPU and an updated iOS among other nifty features like Live Photos, but how well does this fare when faced with a gauntlet of real-world usage tests? We were happy to find out for you.

Apple iPhone 6S: Design

Like its predecessor, the iPhone 6S is rather small but this does make it easier to operate with one hand. The volume and unlock buttons are easily accessible, though the vibration switch is out of reach requiring a bit of a stretch to toggle.

The 7000 series aluminium that protects the rear of the iPhone is smooth to the touch though our review unit had a few small scratches. This can be remedied with a cover; if you are the “bareback”, no cover sort of person this is something to keep in mind.

Unfortunately not using a cover can result in scratches on the rear cover.
Unfortunately not using a cover can result in scratches on the rear cover.

While we’re at the rear of the handset we do need to point out that the camera bump protrudes from the body quite a bit though not as much as the Note 5. This seems to be common practice and we’ll forgive Apple this time as the camera does boast some new tech which we’ll explore in a bit but for the next generation, can we get a flat back for the next iPhone, please?

The rest of the physical layout will be familiar to iPhone users – one rather loud bottom speaker, a 3.5mm audio jack and a Lightning connector.

Apple iPhone 6S: Display

There is very little, if any light leakage coming from the 4.7inch, 750x1334p IPS Retina display. Many manufactures claim to have the best display but Apple could comfortably take that claim to the bank and get a mortgage on it. It’s the best we’ve see so far this year.

Probably the best display we've had the pleasure of using this year.
Probably the best display we’ve had the pleasure of using this year.

The touch response is just as good; in a week of using the iPhone 6S as our main phone not once did it miss a beat even when typing at a fairly quick pace.

While it may not be a revolution, 3D Touch is extremely useful. A long hard touch brings up a few options which vary from app to app and you’re able to “pop” into the app or execute tasks immediately with an additional touch.

Apple iPhone 6S: Performance

Th performance of the latest A9 chip coupled with 2GB of RAM is great. Apps open quickly and run well but we did notice the handset heating up quite quickly when running CPU intensive apps such as Maps or during prolonged use of Siri.

Unfortunately there is no PC Mark benchmark on the App Store so for this review we used Antutu Benchmark and 3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited to measure overall performance and gaming performance respectively and then compared these scores to other handsets.

We received the 16GB model for review and we were thankful for this because we wanted to see just how small this capacity is once you start recording video at 4K and adding Live Photos to your gallery.

Our conclusion is, ditch the 16GB and spend the extra R1 800 on the 64GB version. This sounds expensive but after taking 26 photos, downloading 10 apps and filming two videos we filled up 2GB of the available 9GB.

The fingerprint scanner on the home button is a bit of a hit-and-miss. While setting up the scan we were asked to use a different finger because the one we were using couldn’t be read and once the scan completed we had to use a six-digit passcode more often than our fingerprint to unlock the phone. Samsung got this close to right with the Note 5 and hopefully Apple will as well with the next iPhone.

Apple iPhone 6S: Battery

Packing more tech into a phone means something needs to shrink and with the iPhone the victim is the battery. You will lose 100mAh compared to the iPhone 6 but we managed to get a day of use out of the handset when running apps like Twitter, Instagram, watching the occasional video and playing a game. Surprisingly though, frugal use meant that in some instances we were able to push the battery to last two days.

Beware using apps like Maps and Siri often, the battery performance will take a knock.
Beware using apps like Maps and Siri often, the battery performance will take a knock.

Heavy users however, may need to carry a battery bank with them. We found that having the screen on and the innards working for long periods of time did drain the battery quite quickly, giving us 9 hours of usage rather than the 15 hour standard.

Apple iPhone 6S: Camera

Quite frankly the pièce de résistance of this handset for many will be the 12MP iSight camera. Deep trench technology and moving the colour filter from just above, to on-top of the pixels has improved the camera significantly from the iPhone 6. Pictures are brighter, clearer and have better with little to no noise in low light.

It isn't as large as the bump on the Note 5 but it does still protrude out of the body.
It isn’t as large as the bump on the Note 5 but it does still protrude out of the body.

The front camera now boasts a Retina Flash which illuminates the display improving selfies in lowlight. Fair warning though it will temporarily blind you if you’ve been in the dark for a while.

Live Photos are cool, a short clip precedes photos while swiping through your camera roll and a long hard press allows you to view a slightly longer video with sound. As cool as this is Live Photos can be double the file size of a normal image increasing in size as you add filters, so turn this off if you want to save space.

Apple iPhone 6S: Conclusion

To be frank, the iPhone 6S is awesome and Apple has made very few compromises to bring us an almost perfect smartphone. Of course the battery capacity is small, the price is high especially for the 64GB and 128GB iterations and the fingerprint sensor could be a bit more accurate but all of that pales in comparison to how well made the iPhone 6S is and how well it works.

For those that have been using an iPhone for a while this is a worthwhile upgrade and for those looking to buy their first iPhone we highly recommend making the iPhone 6S your first experience of the Apple smartphones.

[su_box title=”Details” box_color=”#f37021″]

Price 16GB @ R11 799/ 64GB @ R13 999/ 128GB @ R15 499

Display 750x1334p IPS Retina display

Operating System iOS 9

System Chip Apple A9

CPU Dual core APL0898 @ 1.8GHz


Storage 16GB

Interface 3.5mm audio input/output, Lightning connector

Front camera 5.0 MP, Retina Flash

Back camera 12MP iSight Camera, TrueTone Flash

Battery 1 715mAh Li-po Battery[/su_box]

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.