iPhone 6s Plus review: Apple fans deserve a better phablet
Everything great about an iPhone dogged by a body too big
- Powerful CPU and GPU combo
- 3D Touch streamlines navigation
- TouchID finger scanner leads the market
- Higher resolution cameras
- Excellent battery life
- Needlessly large form factor
- Primary camera could still be higher in resolution
Price$ 1,229.00 (AUD)
Best Deals (Selling at 1 store)
This phone has appeared in our Which phones have the best cameras? list.
A discussion would’ve taken place during the development of the iPhone 6s Plus. “Do we retain the iPhone’s identifiable styling or make a comfortable phablet,” would’ve been asked. A credible question worthy of serious consideration.
The first time Apple increased the display of its iPhone, it redesigned the smartphone’s body to accommodate. The departure in design language was radical and undoubtedly influenced by user comfort.
It would make sense then that an iPhone with a 5.5-inch screen would adopt a style to suit the increase in size, but the iPhone 6s Plus, the successor to the 6 Plus, is proof Apple would rather side with its identifiable design language than make a smartphone that is easier to live with.
Every measurement deems it a monolith. It is taller than Xiaomi’s Mi Note, wider than Samsung’s Galaxy Note5 and heavier than Motorola’s Moto X Style, and yet all of these smartphones have a larger screen than Apple’s phablet.
Adding insult to injury are harsh, straight lines. All of the aforementioned smartphones liberally adopt accommodating curves for a more comfortable fit in the palm. Each one aspires to politely share your space. The 6s Plus does not. Its design is intrusive and it demands fingers conform to its shape.
Apple has developed a whole software feature dedicated to hedging the annoyances brought about by its size. Double tapping the home button triggers ‘reachability’, which shifts the screen’s content halfway down. Here, the software comes to you.
This feature is somewhat unique to Apple’s phablet, and that’s because the design of most 2015 phablets deem it redundant. Reaching the top of an LG G3, which too has a 5.5-inch screen, is substantially easier.
Many buy a complimentary case that doubles as a wallet, choosing to carry less money in order to compensate for the 6s Plus’ size. Needless to say, this Apple smartphone does not come cheap. Outright pricing for the 16GB variant starts at $1229 outright.
What a waste of an opportunity. And a let down for longtime fans of Apple, who would’ve fallen in love with the convenience of the iPhone’s smaller profile in its early days.
Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS, is among the most — if not, the most — aesthetic. The version running on the 6s Plus resembles that found on Apple’s iPad as apps split into two panes in landscape orientation. The homescreen and native applications, such as the messaging app and the mail app, have an extended functionality as a result. And because Plus versions of Apple’s iPhone have a higher 401 pixel-per-inch density, it looks all the more attractive.
Separating the 6s Plus from its predecessor is the introduction of 3D Touch. Pressing firmly on the screen can either generate a preview or act as a shortcut between two different applications. This feature both streamlines how an iPhone is used and intuitively anticipates upcoming needs. Going from an address in the browser to GPS directions happens in a single gesture, for instance.
One feature in particular makes the iPhone 6s Plus an attractive buy. Built into its supersized enclosure is a 2750 milliamp-hour battery, and although it is 5 per cent smaller than the battery equipped in last year’s model, it is 39 per cent larger than the one in the 4.7-inch iPhone 6s. The result is above par battery life. In our testing, the 6s Plus would last 35 hours on average.
Further differentiating the Plus from the smaller iPhone is a key camera component. Its 12MP rear camera comes with optical imaging stabilisation, a module which steadies the camera to reduce blurring. It reaps rewards by allowing more light to enter the lens.
The beauty of the camera in Apple’s iPhone is that it can capture good photos easily. Like the iPhone 6s, this smartphone excels at taking daytime photos, with the increase in megapixels making room for more detail and its aptitude for colours rendering landscapes in a wide gamut of vibrant hues.
Photos taken as the sun sets continue to impress. Ample light highlights plenty of detail without washing out colours. There is a tendency for photos to look grainier due to a rise in image noise, particularly during night shots; however, these photos can still be used comfortably on Facebook and Instagram.
Joining the improved primary camera is a 5 megapixel front camera. The increase in resolution is joined by a software flash, which works well identifying a scene’s ambient lighting and then by flashing just the right colour for the occasion.
Beyond the larger screen, bigger battery and a better camera lies an ordinary iPhone 6s. Like its sibling, the 6s Plus is powered by Apple’s A9 processor, along with its motion (M9) co-processor. This year’s variant has double the RAM at 2GB and comes in internal storage options of 16, 64 and 128-gigabytes.
Running 3D Mark’s ice storm unlimited benchmarking test reveals the 6s Plus is among the highest performing. Its score of 27,622 trails only behind the iPhone 6s (28,348), and is greater than the results yielded by Sony’s Xperia Z3 (18,841), LG’s G4 (18,862), Motorola’s Moto X Style (19,509), HTC's One M9 (21,123) and Samsung’s Galaxy S6 Edge (22,248).
Internet speeds are similarly fast. The smartphone’s compatibility with Cat6 LTE gives it a theoretical maximum speed of 300 Mbps, provided it is coupled with the right network. It supports 23 LTE bands globally, which makes it an appealing choice for anyone keen on travelling.
A speedtest performed in our North Sydney offices with an Optus SIM card yielded promising results. The 6s Plus achieved a maximum download speed of 21.3Mbps and an upload speed of 3.3Mbps.
The iPhone 6s Plus is a phablet undermined by compromise. There is no one iPhone that has excellent battery life, a large screen and a body that is comfortable. The ordinary 6s is stumped by mediocre battery life, and although the 6s Plus excels in this regard, its enormity discounts its appeal as a smartphone. People locked into Apple’s ecosystem will have to live with one of these shortcomings, and this is why the phablet space remains dominated by Android.
Join the newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Dynabook Portégé X30W-J – a very good all-rounder
- 2 Realme 7 Pro review: Further progress
- 3 Oppo Watch review: A masterclass in imitation
- 4 Google Pixel 5 Review: Soft Reboot
- 5 Google Pixel 4a review: The Goldilocks Google phone
- Google's next way of working is 'Smart Canvas'
- Android 12’s new privacy settings draw a clear line between Google and Apple
- Microsoft kills Windows 10X
- Get ready for a rush of Apple-silicon Macs coming from Cupertino
- Nvidia nerfs crypto coin mining on most new GeForce graphics cards
PCW Evaluation Team
Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.
This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.
It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.
As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.
The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.
This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.
- MSI GS66 Stealth (2021) review: A gaming powerhouse with 300Hz display
- Before We Leave: Non-violent Kiwi game releases on Steam
- 11th-gen 'Tiger Lake H' performance deep-dive: Intel gets back in the game
- Everything you need to know about Smart TVs
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?