iPhone 6S - 4K, Software and Performance

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iPhone 6S – Video & 4K

The iPhone 6S’s video capabilities are very good. It’s only held back, again, by the lack of optical image stabilisation, which is handy for suppressing shaky hands.

There are two video modes and six settings in total: 720p at 30fps, 1080p at 30fps, 1080p at 60fps, 4K at 30fps and the two slo-mo modes, 720p at 120fps and 240fps.

iPhone 6s $K

The 240fps mode introduced on the iPhone 6 is especially fun – tech journos call it the “cat’s pajamas”, because that’s how we talk.

The 60fps 1080p mode is interesting since it delivers smoother motion, though be warned it’s unusable in low light. As is 4K for that matter. The default mode is 1080p at 30fps, which is perfect for most conditions.

Moreover, while it’s easy to dismiss the addition of 4K as “pointless”, don’t be too hasty. For one, downscaling 4K footage to 1080p will result in sharper footing than native 1080p. The adventurous can even use 4K’s extra pixels to reframe and ‘zoom’ into their footage at 1080p without losing detail – 4K is effectively four times 1080p, after all.

In the right hands you don’t need to transmit or watch in 4K for it to be useful.

Inexplicably, though, you can’t change the standard video and slo-mo options from within the Camera app. You have to delve into the Photos & Camera section of the Settings app to change the defaults every time, a decision so inexplicably stupid it defies belief.

It’s odd because the iPhone’s Camera app is impeccably designed otherwise – I tried using the Moto G (2015) camera app the other day and it was like being parachuted into a world full of stupid in comparison. Seriously, Motorola, sort that out.

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iPhone 6S – Software & Apps

We have a well-appointed iOS 9 review by Max Parker that covers the numerous ins and outs of the Apple’s latest software update. As usual, it’s a healthy mix of good stuff – deep Spotlight search integration and improved Siri-ness – and other stuff that could stand to be better – i.e. notifications.

Actually, notifications are much improved in iOS 9, even if Android still does them better. They’re organised by day instead of by app now, and while you can’t dismiss the whole lot in one go, you can dismiss a whole day at a time. It makes it easier to review and then dismiss, which is good.

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Beyond the 3D Touch features, which I’ve already discussed, one of my favourite changes is to the Battery section of the Settings app.

It’s split into ‘Last 24 Hours’ and ‘Last 6 Days’ views. But what makes the feature is how tapping on the list reveals how much screen time and background time each app uses. It’s a brilliant way to single out rogue apps sucking down more than their fair share, which I’ll get into more in the battery life section.

iOS 9, unsurprisingly, runs like an absolute dream on the iPhone 6S. Admittedly I’ve been testing on a fresh install – a good idea if you can face it – rather than recalling an old backup. All the same, iOS 9 and the iPhone 6S are as sprightly as a particularly lively sheepdog.

Related: iOS 9 tips and tricks
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iPhone 6S – Performance

The iPhone 6S is hell-a-fast, which is apparently not as fast as “stupidfast” but is nonetheless pretty nippy. The new chip tops rivals in most benchmarks and is a good 50 to 60% faster than the A8 – a serious jump.

Apple’s upgraded A9 SoC (System on a Chip) houses a shiny new PowerVR GPU and two CPU cores clocked at 1.8GHz each, up from 1.4GHz, and there’s 2GB of RAM.

Yes, you read that correctly, the iPhone finally has two whole gigabytes of RAM. Without becoming too glib, it was about time. While I’m typically wary of the massed throngs complaining about such details, on this occasion they had point. Things were getting a bit silly.

Not because iOS didn’t run smoothly on 1GB, but because the Safari web browser couldn’t hold more than a few tabs at a time without reloading them. With the iPhone 6S, I’ve managed to switch between as many as 10 simultaneously loaded tabs without any reloads.

You could probably load a few more, but by that point I was satisfied. They’ll still reload if you leave the app and come back some time later, but in the time you’re active within Safari it handles the workload well. Praise be.

iPhone 5S and iPhone 6 owners will notice unlocking from Touch ID is faster, too, especially when the screen is already off. It’s only a small point, but each fraction makes the whole experience feel smoother and slicker.

There’s an enviable amount of graphics grunt on tap, too – not that any game I’ve found makes full use of it yet.