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First look: The new iPhone 6S Plus impresses

Michael deAgonia | Sept. 30, 2015
The latest iPhones from Apple may look like last year's models, but that's a disguise; they deliver major changes in hardware.

New iPhone 6s Plus in box
The new iPhone 6S Plus in its box and ready to be opened. This is the 128GB model in Space Gray. Credit: Michael deAgonia

The latest iPhones from Apple -- the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus -- are finally in customers' hands -- including my own 128GB Space Gray iPhone 6S Plus. Unlike last year, I went for the larger of the two phones, and I'm glad I did.

This year's release -- unveiled by Apple on Sept. 9 and finally available to customers on Friday -- is the second generation to feature the 4.7-in. and 5.5-in. displays. Although they're ever so slightly larger and heavier, by and large the new models look just like their predecessors, although there is a new "Rose Gold" color.

Rose Gold iPhone 6S Plus
This year's iPhone's look just like last year's -- with one exception. They're now offered in Rose Gold, in addition to Space Gray, Silver and Gold. (This is the 6S Plus.) Credit: Ken Mingis

Other than appearance, the new iPhone 6S models are completely different. From the use of a new 7000 Series aluminum alloy to help create a sturdier, less bendable casing to updated cameras, a faster Touch ID system, and pressure-sensitive multitouch display, the latest iPhone represents more than a typical evolutionary update. No wonder Apple is saying early sales will break past records.

The iPhone 6S is faster, too; a lot faster. Last year's iPhone offered a significant performance leap over its predecessor, and that change was perceptible in even normal use. This year's model offers an even bigger jump, due to the improvements in Apple's custom-built A9 processor and the increase from 1GB of internal memory to 2GB. Apple says the new chip is 70% faster than last year's, and graphics are 90% faster. It certainly feels like it in routine use.

There is a lot to discuss concerning the new iPhones, much of which I'll detail in my formal review after I've spent serious time with my new phone. But there's a number of things I've noticed about this new model right off the bat, all of them good.

Size matters

When I chose the iPhone 6 over the 6 Plus last year, I did so because I didn't think I'd really enjoy carrying around the larger phone. After spending some time with a 6 Plus, however, I realized how wrong I was. I quickly grew accustomed to the Plus' larger display, and going back to my own, smaller iPhone 6 at the end of the review period felt like going back to the iPhone 5. I missed that screen.


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