iPhone 6S – Performance and features
A9 chipset with dual-core 1.84GHz CPU and PowerVR GT7600 six-core GPU, 2GB of RAM
Another iPhone, another processor – and this time it’s the dual-core A9. Apple has also finally upped the RAM to 2GB – a key element for multi-tasking.
What does this all mean? Well, in short: the iPhone 6S Plus is very fast. In fact, it surpasses even our previous fastest phone – the Samsung Galaxy S6 – in some of the benchmark tests.
Games look and play brilliantly on the 6S Plus
While other smartphones come with four, six or even eight CPU cores, the iPhone 6S Plus manages to deliver such performance with only two. How can it perform better than those other phones that sound so impressive on paper?
It’s because many smartphone apps use only one or two cores at a time. This means that having fewer but more powerful cores is often of greater benefit than having a bag-load of cores that aren’t quite as fast.
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In addition, you shouldn’t feel the iPhone 6S is shortchanging you in terms of processors. While the CPU has only two cores, the GPU (graphics processing unit) has six. With the two combined on the A9 chipset, the 6S Plus is a powerhouse – whether you’re into gaming, photo editing or general productivity.
In the real world this all means that the 6S Plus is butter-smooth, and I’ve not experienced a single stutter or dropped frame while playing some of the most demanding games from the App Store.
For security, the 6S Plus comes with Touch ID – Apple’s fingerprint scanner – built into the home button.
This makes your phone far more secure than relying on a simple PIN – in fact, iOS 9 now strongly recommends you use a six-digit PIN instead of the four-digit one iPhone users will be more accustomed to.
Touch ID also lets you use the iPhone 6S Plus with Apple Pay, so you can tap your phone on a touch-and-pay terminal to purchase good and services.
Apple Pay has been around in the US for more than a year now, but was only recently introduced to the UK and so isn’t yet supported by all the banks. For example, holders of a Barclays bank account can’t yet use Apple Pay.
Fingerprint scanners are by no means unique to the iPhone any more, but they’re still a great feature, making it super-easy to keep your phone secure without making unlocking a regular drudgery.
Touch ID on the iPhone 6S Plus is better than ever, thanks to the improved processor. It unlocks the phone almost twice as fast as before, giving you access to all your mobile tools even more quickly.
The final iPhone 6S Plus feature worth expanding on is something we’ve mentioned already, the new Taptic Engine.
You’ll have experienced phones vibrating when on silent before and the Taptic Engine on the iPhone 6S Plus performs a similar function, but it’s as close to those as a hamburger is to a fillet steak.
It brings a more nuanced experience to the vibrations that help you better understand what’s going on. A phone call has a different feel to a text message, for example.
It also ties into 3D Touch. Use 3D Touch on an icon that supports it and a short buzz lets you know it’s been activated. Try it on one that doesn’t support 3D Touch and you get the vibration equivalent of a head shake.
iPhone 6S Plus – Call quality and speakers
The iPhone 6S Plus has a loud and clear ear speaker with noise-cancelling microphones to ensure clarity at both ends of the line.
The speakers are solid: you’ll happily be able to watch a bit of Netflix or catch-up TV using them. The issue is is their location.
Mounted at the bottom of the phone, it’s all too easy to muffle them with your palm when holding the handset in landscape mode.
iPhone 6S Plus – iOS 9
The iPhone 6S Plus comes with Apple’s latest version of its mobile operating system, iOS 9.
It isn’t significantly different from previous versions, so for users of iPhones and iPads, it won’t feel alien. If you haven’t used iOS before then iOS 9 is as good a place to start as any – this is one of the easiest mobile operating systems with which to get to grips.
iOS 9 looks the same as iOS 8, but there have been some important refinements.
Spotlight search has been expanded to include Apple news, alongside being able to find information buried deep in apps.
There’s also a handy back feature that pops up when you move from one app to another, so you can easily revert to where you were. Hit a link to an article from Twitter? Well now you can get back to your Tweets with a simple tap from Safari.
Siri is far smarter, too, featuring the ability to make contextual reminders. There’s also a new way to activate the smart-assistant on the iPhone 6S Plus: just shout “Hey Siri” and you can ask it a question. Previously, you could do this only when your iPhone was plugged in to charge.
I’ve found iOS 9 to be rock-solid on the iPhone 6S Plus, except when moving from landscape to portrait mode. On a few occasions, I found the phone would stick in landscape mode and needed a little shaking to get back into shape.
There’s a lot more to iOS 9 than I’ve outlined here. To find out more about this latest version, read our iOS 9 review.
How we test phones
We test every mobile phone we review thoroughly. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly and we use the phone as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.