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Deep dive review: The iPhone 6S Plus delivers the goods

Michael deAgonia | Oct. 19, 2015
Top-notch performance, better cameras and the arrival of 3D Touch make it a great choice.

Working in concert with updated software and a brand new Taptic Engine is the 3D Touch function. 3D Touch isn't new to Apple; it debuted earlier this year on the Watch as Force Touch and on Apple's MacBook and MacBook Pro laptop trackpads. It's an effective way to interact with the iPhone: Any type of pressure on the glass is measured by the capacitive sensors, and specific actions can be triggered based on how hard you press down.

And it's cleverly integrated throughout the operating system. (Note: 3D Touch is a feature only available on the new iPhones. iOS 9 may run on the previous generations, but only the new phones support this feature, which Apple is specifically touting in new TV ads.)

3D Touch in-depth

There are a variety of scenarios in which 3D Touch can make a difference. Let's say you want to message a friend. The usual steps are tap to open the Messages app; go back a step to the main friend list; scroll through the list; tap the friend; type the message. To do the same on an iPhone with 3D Touch, you press firmly on the Messages icon on the Home Screen, and a list of the three friends you last messaged appears; below the list is an option to start a new message.

If you want to mark your parking spot, you normally tap to open the Maps app; tap the triangle to the lower left to get a lock on your position; tap to the lower right to open the Options drawer; and then tap Drop a Pin to mark your location. With 3D Touch, you press firmly on the Maps app on the Home Screen and tap Mark My Location. Done. (There are also quick shortcuts for Search Nearby, Send My Location and Directions Home.)

Apple's done selfie-takers a solid with this one. To take a selfie shot from the Home Screen in an iPhone without 3D Touch, you tap open the Camera app, swipe to Photo mode, tap on the Switch Camera toggle at the upper right, and then tap the shutter button. With 3D Touch, you press firmly on the Camera app on the Home Screen and select Take Selfie. (Other options include Record Video, Record Slo-mo and Take Photo.)

Most of the apps that come with the iPhone have support for 3D Touch from the Home Screen and each is contextually sensitive: Calendar will let you quickly add an event, Safari will let you start a Private browsing session immediately and the Phone app lets you call your top three favorites. Third-party apps are now starting to support this feature, including Instagram and Facebook. (The latter's quick shortcuts include taking a photo/video, uploading an existing photo/video and a quick link for writing a post.)

 

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