Apple’s iPhone is usually front and center at Apple’s September keynotes, but that wasn’t the case today. The iPhone was relegated to pulling up the rear of the keynote behind the Apple Watch, iPad Pro, and all-new Apple TV.
But then again, we already knew what Apple was going to reveal — this is a refresh year, after all, for the iPhone. The iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S look nearly identical to their predecessors (including the same 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch displays, respectively), but now include 7000 series aluminum which is stronger than the “bendy” aluminum used in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Powering Apple’s new iPhones is a new A9 SoC in place of the “old” A8. The A9 is 70 percent faster than the A8 and includes a GPU that is 90 percent faster. The M9 coprocessor is now built-in to the A9, rather than being a separate chip. You’ll also find always-on “Hey Siri” (this previously was only available when plugged into an outlet), a second generation Touch ID sensor that is 2x faster, 802.11ac Wi-Fi that now offers transfer speeds up to 866Mbps and LTE Advanced support.
Apple has introduced an all-new 12MP iSight camera on both the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus. Phil Schiller said that Apple wasn’t about to bump up the megapixel count on the iPhone until it could guarantee that image quality wouldn’t be compromised (the iPhone has been “stuck” on 8MP since 2012’s iPhone 5). Apparently, now is the time so here we are. Another nifty feature is the ability to use the LED backlit display to serve as a “Retina” flash for the FaceTime camera on the front of the device. Speaking of the FaceTime camera, it’s been boosted to 5MP.
In addition, 3D Touch (a la Force Touch, as used on the Apple Watch) has made its way to the iPhone, enabling new ways to interact with your apps and the iOS UI. By using increased pressure on the screen, you can interact with your iPhone using “Peek” and “Pop.” Peek can be called upon by pressing on an app’s icon to bring up application-specific shortcuts. Pop allows you to bring up a quick overlay of photos of video without losing focus of your place in your current app.
The iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus will be available later this month in the usual colors of silver, space gray, and gold. However, a new rose gold option has been added to spruce things up a bit. Pricing hasn’t changed: the 16GB iPhone 6S will start at $199, while the 16GB iPhone 6S Plus will start at $299 with a two-year contract. Given that most carriers have moved away from two-year contracts, Apple also provided monthly pricing information for those on installment plans.
Pre-orders start September 12th and goes on sale September 25th. iOS 9, however, comes out September 16th.