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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.

I've seen various reviews, both positive and negative, for Live Photos, and after spending the afternoon hiking and taking photos and video, I can understand why. The feature is hit or miss. Sometimes, a picture looks great -- and the video that's recorded a second-and-a-half before and after the photo is taken creates something straight out of Harry Potter when you press the display. At other times, it's evident that the Live Photo animated portion isn't at the same resolution as the image, and at 15 frames per second the motion is a bit jumpy.

I wish Live Photos supported 24 frames per second at a higher resolution, but I suspect this is a feature that will improve over time. In the meantime, it's easy to wow friends by showing them Live Photos — but only the good ones.

Live wallpapers
The new Live Wallpapers provided by Apple for the new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus move when you press on them in the Lock Screen. Credit: Ken Mingis

New cameras

Both cameras in the new iPhones have been updated. The rear facing camera is now a 12-megapixel model, and it works great with the built-in optical image and video stabilization. They really make a noticeable difference. Footsteps as you're recording video on the go are less jarring, resulting in videos that don't bounce around as much. And the new camera can shoot in 4K. Not surprisingly, video taken using the iPhone 6S' camera looks stunning on this display.

The front-facing camera has also been upgraded to 5 megapixels. And to make taking those higher-quality selfies even better, the phone will light up the display screen to act as a pseudo-flash.

Touch ID

Finally, I have found Touch ID to be really fast. Super fast. Even though I wear the Apple Watch, sometimes I reach over out of pure habit and hit the Home button to see the time on the iPhone's Lock Screen. (It's an old habit that's difficult to break.) But the TouchID sensor in the new iPhones is so fast that the display is turned on a split second after I touch the Home button. By then the Home Screen has already flown into view and I've missed the chance to see the actual time.

The speed improvement is very impressive, because I didn't find Touch ID to be slow before. The improvements will be particularly welcome for those who use Apple Pay.

One related note for new iPhone 6S owners: There seems to be a bug in iOS 9 that can cause a brief lag after you log into the phone. I've noticed it a couple of times for my first two days of use; other owners have seen it more often.

 

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