The iPhone 6s had big shoes to fill. ‘Shoes’ in this case, being media reports that it was likely to be the biggest ‘s’ upgrade ever.
In practice, though, what did this mean, exactly? Well, having spent a few days with the new device (the smaller one – I got fed up of the pocket-busting Plus), I think the reports were a little off. Don’t get me wrong – this is a superb phone, but, then, so is every iPhone. It is simply a further iteration on a great theme. As usual, the ‘s’ upgrade brings with it one defining feature, and I think I know what it is: 3D Touch.
Referring to 3D Touch as ‘revolutionary’ is somewhat wide of the mark. It is an evolution of the multitouch user interface, nothing more. But an important one. Any gesture which provides a shortcut to common tasks is worth incorporating, and I’m glad Apple carried over the Force Touch technology first seen on the Apple Watch to their flagship device.
Need to take a selfie? Just press a little harder on the camera app icon and you get an option to do so, instantly. You even get a little reassuring buzz to confirm you’ve pressed hard enough to invoke the menu. Simple, but clever.
Want to preview an email without affecting its ‘read’ status? Just push a little harder on the screen and you’ll see the content. Push harder, and you’ll ‘pop’ into the email as usual. It’s intrinsic and immediately familiar – the kind of feature I love.
Some expect 3D Touch to be a power feature, only discovered and accessed by uber geeks. But I disagree – it really is the next stage in touch screen user interface and it will be adopted by the masses.
As for the other headline iPhone 6s features, I’m afraid they’re rather more standard fair which you’re unlikely to be wowed by on a daily basis. The camera is better, yes, but it was great before – this thing takes brilliant pictures. Still. It also takes 4K video, but as I’ve said before, this feels incredibly gimmicky and is something you have to hunt through menus to turn on, surely leaving it confined to the ‘I don’t think my phone can do that’ ignorance bin.
The new A9 processor is incredibly quick – iOS9 zips along at a rate of knots. But, again, this is the same with every new iPhone release. That speed will normalise, quickly.
Touch ID was the 5s’ flagship feature, and rightly so. Not overtly showy, it simply made the process of unlocking your phone pleasantly easy. The 6s’ Touch ID sensor has been upgraded and it is bonkers fast. If you were used to pressing the home button to check notifications, you’ll have to switch to the sleep/wake button on the side; your fingerprint is simply recognised too quickly.
Live photos are still incredibly compelling. In practice, though, they take some, er… practice. I hadn’t really considered that there’d be a learning curve to taking a ‘nice’ live photo. That could be an issue (I’ve already turned mine off).
Don’t get me wrong – this is a fabulous phone. I just think we’re now at a point where each revision is nothing more than a mild iteration. And, again, that is absolutely fine. After all, how far can you take a mobile phone and internet communicator? From here on, the advancement will clearly be made in the operating system and the devices and service to which the iPhone can connect. That’s what gets me excited.