I saw in a BuzzFeed interview that Tim Cook bristled at the idea that the iPhone followed a 'tick-tock' release schedule for its phones, and that we're firmly in the 'tock' phase.

He preferred to say that the iPhone 6S is a 'significant change', and the tagline of 'The only thing that's changed is everything' shows that Apple really wants the world to think of the iPhone 6S as powerful phone in its own right.

And it is. This is Apple we're talking about, and it has so many fans that no matter what phone is released from the factory, it'll be considered as many people's next upgrade.

Because, for all the power and style of Android handsets, they've still not matched the subtle, refined feeling you get from using the iPhone, the confidence that the apps will work better than anywhere else, that you'll experience fewer crashes, that everything will function as you expect it to.

iPhone 6S review

That doesn't mean everyone has to like the iPhone, but it's easy to see why the fans need a really big push to leave the ecosystem and jump to Android.

We liked

Tim Cook called the iPhone 6S' 3D Touch a game-changer, and I'm inclined to agree. It became second nature to use it after only a couple of weeks' use.

The native apps are already using the system well, and it's quickly becoming a fun game to work out where things allow you get little previews or offer shortcuts without needing to leave the app itself. But when developers get their hands on the power, I can see some really clever apps and games emerging - and that will give a real lead over the Android versions.

The rest of the things I liked are baked into the iPhone itself, and always have been. I appreciate the strong and usable camera, giving great snaps no matter what kind of pics you're trying to take - and the sharpness has been upped this year too.

The overall design of the phone is strong, as it was in the iPhone 6, and I still like the feeling of holding the ceramic back of the 6 or 6S - it just feels great in the palm.

We disliked

The battery life of the iPhone 6S leaves a lot to be desired - and while I'm a big fan of 3D Touch, I'm not sure that I'm happy with the fact I have to accept lower battery longevity to have the privilege.

If Apple ever launches a smaller phone with the kind of battery life the iPhone 6S Plus offers, then it's going to have a smash hit on its hands, which makes it all the more confusing that the brand hasn't decided to bring something like that out already.

iPhone 6S review

While it's stupid to be disappointed by something so obvious, the fact the iPhone 6S is identical (in design terms) to the 6 still irks.

If only the screen had ben upgraded, or the battery life lengthened through a larger power pack in there, it would be something to cling onto.

But instead we're left with a phone that's hard to explain to users who want to know what's good about the new phone when it looks so similar - there are only so many ways you can talk up 3D Touch.


Apple's idea that 'The only thing that's changed is everything' seems instantly to be a bit of misnomer. Yes, on paper you can point to a lot of things: improved structure, new interface method, Live Photos, a sharper camera, a more powerful engine, but in reality only 3D Touch offers a significant upgrade.

The iPhone 6S is a long way from a bad phone because, simply, it's an iPhone. That's not me saying that anything Apple does it going to be great, but the reason so many people fall over themselves to get the new iPhone is because they know it will be a solid experience with very intelligent interface touches and a great app store, coupled with a great camera. To many, that's all they need.

But being part of the Apple experience comes at a high price - literally. It's still one of, if not the, most expensive flagship phones on the market, and as such needs to impress in every way, which the iPhone 6S doesn't quite do. The iPhone 6 remains on sale at a lower price, and the difference between it and Apple's latest phone is negligible.

If you're desperate to get a new iPhone, but don't need or want the forever change (headphone jack-less) iPhone 7, I'd recommend the iPhone 6S wholeheartedly, especially if you're jumping from a 5S. It's got a great interface that's only going to get better, and the overall package is still excellent.

However, if you're a little more thrifty (and still in the Apple camp) then perhaps the iPhone 6 (or iPhone SE) will suit your needs a little more adequately - you're not losing a lot and still getting a great phone.

It's only because the iPhone 6 was so impressive that the iPhone 6S gets four stars - it needed a massive leap forward to eclipse that model, but it's still a great phone in its own right.

First reviewed: September 2015