Apple iPhone 6s Plus Review: More Of A Good Thing

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Apple 6s Plus Introduction & Specifications

You don't need a crystal ball to figure out Apple will release a new iPhone handset every year. It's been doing it since the original came out in 2007, and starting with the iPhone 3G, Apple's naming convention has consisted of introducing a new model number every two years, with "s" variants in between. There was the iPhone 3GS in 2009, iPhone 4s in 2011 (the first to use a lowercase "s"), iPhone 5s (and iPhone 5c) in 2013, and now the iPhone 6s/6s Plus.

The one thing that's been true of each "s" upgrade is they've all been faster than their predecessors while retaining the same overall exterior design. That's again true of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, though there's quite a bit more here than a simple speed bump. Apple is keen on saying "the only thing that's changed is everything," and while that's overselling the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus a bit, labeling this generation a mere incremental upgrade would likewise be selling the devices short.

Apple iPhone 6s Plus Main

As is usually the case between claims and reality, the truth lies somewhere in the middle, and the truth is, the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s are superior to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in several ways, some of them meaningful and others not so much. More importantly for owners of older iPhone devices, like the iPhone 5s, these latest handsets are worthy upgrades if you're wanting to stay in the iOS ecosystem. There are even some unique feature that might entice Android users to hop over the train tracks, such as 3D Touch and Live Photos.

These changes mostly take place underneath the hood. It begins with a new engine, an Apple designed A9 processor with embedded M9 coprocessor. As we've seen in our preview of the A9 chip, it's a potent part, especially considering its dual-core architecture. It's what makes the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus tick, though it takes more than raw compute muscle to sell the masses on a smartphone.

What we have in for review is the iPhone 6s Plus with 64GB of onboard storage. We'll take a closer look at the handset and examine the other features Apple upgraded for this latest generation, but first, let's take a moment to look at the spec sheet.
Apple and Samsung have already had their annual smartphone launch parties, and now, Motorola is taking its turn. For the third year in a row, a new Moto X has arrived on the test bed. There's no mistaking the design -- visual cues that created the silhouette of the original still remain on the Moto X Pure Edition, but it's clear that the company is evolving its flagship phone based on market demands. For instance, the 5.7-inch Quad HD (2,560 x 1,440) display would've been viewed as monstrous in 2013, but today, it feels wholly natural. Moto has also included a few useful extras like TurboPower (which injects 10 hours of life into the phone after just 15 minutes on the charger) and a water-repellant nano-coating.

The Moto X Pure Edition (also known as the Moto X Style in non-U.S. markets) has plenty of competition, but in some ways, it exists in a niche of its own. Samsung and Apple have long since garnered the lion's share of mobile profits in North America, but those flagships start at around $649 and peak at nearly $1,000 with a halfway decent amount of internal storage. 

Apple's unlocked 128GB iPhone 6s Plus goes for $949 exclusive of tax, while Samsung's 64GB Galaxy Note 5 checks in at around $800. Rather than bark up that tree, Moto is hawking a great phone, completely unlocked, at a price point that's downright cheap in comparison. While the $399 base price only includes 16GB of storage, even the 64GB model only costs $499. What's that coin get you? Let's take a look.
Apple and Samsung have already had their annual smartphone launch parties, and now, Motorola is taking its turn. For the third year in a row, a new Moto X has arrived on the test bed. There's no mistaking the design -- visual cues that created the silhouette of the original still remain on the Moto X Pure Edition, but it's clear that the company is evolving its flagship phone based on market demands. For instance, the 5.7-inch Quad HD (2,560 x 1,440) display would've been viewed as monstrous in 2013, but today, it feels wholly natural. Moto has also included a few useful extras like TurboPower (which injects 10 hours of life into the phone after just 15 minutes on the charger) and a water-repellant nano-coating.

The Moto X Pure Edition (also known as the Moto X Style in non-U.S. markets) has plenty of competition, but in some ways, it exists in a niche of its own. Samsung and Apple have long since garnered the lion's share of mobile profits in North America, but those flagships start at around $649 and peak at nearly $1,000 with a halfway decent amount of internal storage. 

Apple's unlocked 128GB iPhone 6s Plus goes for $949 exclusive of tax, while Samsung's 64GB Galaxy Note 5 checks in at around $800. Rather than bark up that tree, Moto is hawking a great phone, completely unlocked, at a price point that's downright cheap in comparison. While the $399 base price only includes 16GB of storage, even the 64GB model only costs $499. What's that coin get you? Let's take a look.

Apple iiPhone 6s Plus
Specifications & Features

OS
iOS 9.0.2
CPU
Apple designed A9 (64-bit dual-core, 1.85GHz) w/ embedded M9 coprocessor
GPU
Not disclosed
Memory
2 GB LPDDR4 RAM
16/64/128 GB (non-expandable)
Display
5.5-inch Retina HD (1920x1080; 401 ppi)
Dual Ion Exchange strengthened glass w/ 3D Touch
Rear Camera
12 Megapixel iSight w/ 1.22µ pixels
f/2.2 Aperture, Autofocus w/ Focus Pixels, Optical Image Stabilization, True Tone Flash, Panorama (up to 63MP), Burst Mode, Timer Mode, Five Element Lens, Hybrid IR Filter, Backside Illumination Sensor, Sapphire Crystal Lens Cover, Auto Image Stabilization, Face Detection, Photo Geotagging, 4K Video
Front Camera
5 Megapixel FaceTime HD
f/2.2 Aperture, Retina Flash, 720p HD Video Recording, Auto HDR (photos and videos), Backside Illumination, Exposure Control, Burst Mode, Timer Mode, Face Detection
Network
LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29) / TD-LTE (Bands 38, 39, 40, 41) / TD-SCDMA 1900 (F), 2000 (A) / CDMA EV-DO Rev. A (800, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz) / UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz) / GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
Wireless
802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi w/ MIMO, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, Assisted GPS and GLONASS, Digital Compass, iBeacon Microlocation
GSM/GPRS/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
UMTS/HSPA+ (850, 900, 1700 (AWS),1900, 2100 MHz)
CDMA (800, 850, 1900 MHz)
4G LTE† (B1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 25, 26, 38, 41)
Ports
3.5 mm headphone jack, Lightning connector
Size
192 grams / 6.77 ounces
77.9 x 158.2 x 7.3 mm (WxDxH) / 3.07 x 6.23 x 0.29 inches (WxDxH)
Battery
2,750 mAh (non-removeable) 
Color Options
Silver, Gold (is best!), Space Gray, Rose Gold
Price
$749 (16GB) / $849 (64GB) / $949 (128GB)
   
Apple iPhone 6s Stock

One of the things that jumps out in the specs above is that Apple upgraded the RAM to 2GB. That's still less than what most high-end Android handsets are toting, but compared to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, it's twice as much.

As for built-in storage -- the only other spec that's measured in gigabytes -- the entry level model still totes a measly 16GB. That seems a bit skimpy for a $749 device that presumably has a high profit margin. The other two options are 64GB ($849) in the middle and 128GB ($949) at the top end. Of course, those prices are unsubsidized and off contract.

Running down the spec sheet we also spy upgraded iSight and FaceTime cameras (hooray!), but a slightly less capacious battery (boo!), the latter of which has become a hot topic ever since it was discovered that there are two A9 chips in the wild. One is produced by Samsung and the other by TSMC, and there's evidence to suggest that battery life can be quite a bit different between the two. More on that in a bit.

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