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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.

Video recording has been beefed up, including a new 4K video mode (that's a resolution of 3840 x 2160 at 30fps). To push 4K video even further, Apple updated iMovie for Mac and iOS to support 4K video editing. Of course, the option to shoot 1080p video remains at 30fps or 60fps, depending on your preference. And there is now cinematic video stabilization for 1080p and 720p shooting modes, and the ability to take 8MP images while recording 4K video.

Video recording still has continuous autofocus, face detection and True Tone flash. Slow-motion video is also supported: 120fps at 1080p or 240fps at 720p. It's here where I'm most disappointed; I was hoping for 240fps at 1080p -- maybe next year.

It's fair to say that the iPhone 6S Plus' rear camera has everything that made last year's model so nice for photography and video, but it also shares the same wart: The camera lens still protrudes from the rear of the iPhone, causing the phone to rock slightly when it's on its back. The sapphire lens cover ensures that no scratches blemish your shots.

The iPhone 6S Plus has optical image stabilization for photos and videos (unlike the iPhone 6S) and it does make a significant difference, especially in video -- for instance, it minimizes the usually jarring effect of walking while shooting.

The front camera also received a major upgrade including a flash -- but not the kind of flash you'd think. There is a chip in the new iPhones that let the display "flash" up to three times brighter than in normal operation. It's clever, it solves a problem, and it does so without modifying the iPhone's case.

In addition, the front camera now shoots 5-megapixel photos, up from last year's 1.2 megapixels.

Performance and battery life

The new iPhones sport a third-generation 64-bit chipset made by either TMSC or Samsung. Apple asserts that both new iPhone 6S models offer a 70% increase in CPU speed as well as a 90% increase in GPU performance compared to last year's models. It certainly stacks up well against Android devices that, on paper at least, should be faster.

What does that mean in the real world? For me: I recognized that this model was fast almost immediately. There really isn't any hesitation moving from one task to the other -- animations cleanly transition and items load without the slight hesitation I saw in previous models, especially when switching between apps. The data is pretty much already loaded by the time the app switching animation is finished. You're no longer waiting for the app to catch up when you switch back to it. This is especially noticeable with Safari, which does not have to reload a Web page like it used to when you switched back to it.

 

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