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iPhone 6s and 6s Plus review: The best iPhone ever, by a wide margin

Jason Snell | Sept. 30, 2015
“The only thing that’s changed is everything,” says the slogan Apple unveiled along side the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.

One final complaint, of a sort, about 3D Touch: After a few days of using it, I want it everywhere—and it’s not. I can flip up Control Center from the bottom of the screen to quickly open the Camera app, but for some reason I can’t 3D Touch on that Camera icon to bring up its Quick Actions. Why not? Similarly, the new iOS 9 search screen displays suggested app icons, but I can’t use 3D Touch on them, either.

Upgrading the bump

The fact is, our smartphones aren’t vital to our lives because they take phone calls. They’re vital because they connect us to the Internet, entertain us with apps, and provide us with a camera that’s always with us. Both of the cameras on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus are majorly upgraded from those on last year’s models. (And yes, the rear-facing iSight camera still sticks out from the back of the case, just like on last year’s models.)

The iSight camera has been upgraded to 12 megapixels, which allows the camera to capture more detail. The iPhone 6s Plus also offers optical image stabilization for both video and stills—an improvement on the iPhone 6 Plus, which only used OIS for stills.

In addition to upgrading the hardware, though, Apple has also introduced a new camera mode, called Live Photos. When you enable Live Photos (by tapping a new Live Photos icon when in the Photo setting of the Camera app), the iPhone is always shooting video and caching it temporarily. When you take a picture, the app grabs the last 1.5 seconds of video and the following 1.5 seconds, and saves that as a movie, alongside the still picture.

The idea here is that you’ve sort of captured the closest thing to one of those moving photographs from Harry Potter. It’s a fun idea, and once apps are updated to support the uploads, I expect that they’ll be a lot of fun to share. But I admit I’m a little disappointed about how Live Photos are implemented: When you 3D Touch on a Live Photo, the beautiful 12-megapixel still fades away and is replaced by a 1440-by-1080-pixel (1.55 megapixels) video running at only 15 frames per second. I guess even the impressive hardware on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus isn’t capable of capturing a higher resolution at a higher frame rate, but it’s a disappointing drop in quality from that beautiful still image. As a bonus easter egg around a still picture, Live Photos can be fun and silly, but if I’m ever in a situation where I want to capture movement, I’m going to shoot video instead.

 

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