The iPhone 6s has a 64-bit, 1.84 GHz, dual-core Apple A9 processor. This chip is capable of giving the device world class performance, even though many of its rivals have far more cores; Samsung uses an octa-core processor in its flagship models, for example.
According to the developer of Geekbench 3 benchmarking app, the iPhone 6s scored a 4330. For comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S6 pulled in a 4145, the HTC One (M9) had a 2926, and last year’s iPhone 6 had a 2878 score. The only model that outscored Apple’s was the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge with a 4406.
This is the first phone from Apple with 2GB of RAM; last year’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus had half that much.
Apple sells a version with 16GB of built in storage, one with 64GB, and one with 128GB.
This model debuted running iOS 9, which we covered in-depth in a separate review. Naturally, the iPhone 6s can take full advantage of all the new features designed for phones, like Siri Suggestions and the News app.
Unlike makers of other phones, Apple doesn’t allow its devices to be filled up with bloatware, like links to games and carrier-specific software that can’t be uninstalled. Which isn’t to say that this company isn’t a bit over enthusiastic about the number applications it thinks are necessary, with the app for communicating with an Apple Watch at the top of the list of items that should be optional rather than required on every device.
The hot new camera feature, available only with the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, is Live Photos, in which images act like short videos. When snapping a picture, the camera records a second of video with sound before and after the still image. This makes pictures feel a bit Harry Potter, and can be a fun feature, and useful for photographing children and animals that won’t stand still. Taking real advantage of this feature requires practice, however.
The downside of Live Photos is that they require large amounts of storage capacity. A test image we took takes up 4.6 MB, while a regular picture taken with the iPhone 6s’ camera needs 2.2 MB. Also, the front facing camera can’t take Live Photos, so no moving selfies.
In addition to this new feature, Apple significantly increased the resolution of the iPhone 6s’ rear-facing camera, going from 8 megapixels to 12 MP. It’s doubtful anyone will be able to see any differences between pictures made with a new iPhone 6s and last year’s iPhone 6, but the increase in resolution does allow this device to record 4K video. Again, this takes up large amounts of storage, so anyone planning on on recording lots of high-resolution video should invest in the 64GB version of this phone.
The front camera also moved from 1.2 MP to 5 MP, so selfies look even better than they did before. Just as importantly, Apple has included a trick to turn the display on when taking pictures with this camera so selfies can be taken in low light conditions. In our tests, this feature works surprisingly well, able to light up a dimly lit area just enough that faces can be seen.
Apple has never made battery life a priority and the iPhone 6s is no exception. On the Geekbench 3 battery benchmark, a demanding test that shows how long the device will last with heavy use, the iPhone 6s pulled in 5:16. On the same test, the Samsung Galaxy S6 lasted 6:49, but the HTC One (M8) lasted 4:59.
Apple favors slim devices over long battery lives. The company’s attitude seems to be “If the device will last a day of moderate use, that’s good enough.”