Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Apple iPhone 6s and 6s Plus

Apple iPhone 6s and 6s Plus
Apple iPhone 6s and 6s Plus
Appearances Can Be Deceptive “Both new iPhones look the same as before“ is the “Both new iPhones look the same as before“ is the most common complaint when it comes to the `s' variants. Ever since the iPhone 3GS released in 2009, Apple has followed the `tick-tock' strategy -the tick is the all-new model and the `tock' has mostly internal upgrades. However, with these new phones -they're not exactly the same dimensions as before, even though they look identical. There's a minor difference in thickness (6.9mm for iPhone 6 and 7.1mm for 6s ­ and 7.1mm to 7.3mm for the plus version). This means that all existing cases and skins may not fit. We tried a couple of aftermarket cases meant for the 6 Plus on the 6s Plus -one was fine, the other wasn't. Screen protectors in general are fine but don't buy any textured skins unless they are specifically cut for the 6s and 6s Plus. You can chalk up the slight difference due to the thicker and stronger aluminium used in the new phones plus the new 3D Touch capacitive displays.

So What's New?

For both new phones, there are three key improvements. First is 3D Touch. This is a hardware-enabled feature that cannot be implemented on older iPhones. The screen can detect varying levels of pressure which let you `peek' at and `pop' into content. More on this later. Second, you get substantial performance improvements which come because of the new processor. Third biggest change is the `Taptic' engine -it's a larger, more precise vibration motor that can do different types of vibration (different intensity and duration) to convey contextual feedback. This also has use in gaming -similar to rumble feedback you get with game controllers. Apart from this, the new phones are heavier than before (172 vs 192 grams for the 6s plus and 129 vs 143 grams for the 6s) -probably due to the heavier 3D Touch screen, addition of the Taptic engine and stronger aluminium.

How Much Better is the Camera?

Substantially better -and it's not just about the bump in resolution from 8MP to 12MP . Both the 6s and 6s Plus get the new sensor and the Plus also gets the benefit of a very effective optical image stabilisation system. The front iSight camera resolution has been improved from 1.2MP to 5MP and the screen acts like a colour-corrected flash in low light.We found that the results in auto mode are consistently goood across the board and with different lighting conditions. Comparing the 6s and 6s Plus to devices like Galaxy S6 and Note 5, we found a few key differences. On the device, photos tend to look better on the super amoled screens of the Galaxy devices but compared side-by-side, the differences are minimal. The S6 and Note are better at creating a shallower depth of field and have higher resolution. The iPhones offer truer colour and have a better dynamic range. Once again, these are among the best smartphone cameras on the market.

What's Up With The Screen?

3D Touch is a big addition this year. Like the capacitive touchscreen, this is a feature that could trickle down to all touchscreens. It lets you peek at something (without actually opening it) with a harder press. For instance, you can press harder on an email to peek inside -the same can be done on text messages, calendar entries and image gallery . Press even harder and you can `pop' into the item full screen. A harder press on certain app icons will throw up contextual menus too. This feature is on Apple apps and other developers are following up too -it works great on Facebook and Instagram for instance -more developers are enabling 3D Touch support every day . We're happy to see that 3D Touch continues to work with screen protectors (even tempered glass). As for the IPS LCD screen itself, Apple doesn't seem to want to be in this race. That's why we think the screen is the weakest link here. The 6s has a 4.7-inch screen with a resolution of 1334 x 750 pixels (326 ppi) while the 6s plus has a 5.5-inch screen with a resotuion of 1920 x 1080 pixels (401 ppi). The screen has excellent colours, viewing angles and brightness, but it still falls short of the super amoled screens on Samsung flagships.

What About Performance?

iPhones have always been about the experience rather than raw specs on paper. iOS is not resource hungry and does things bit differently as compared to Android. That being said, the new A9 chip offers loads of performance. It's a dual core chip (two large cores, as compared to six or eight small ones) -but this offers an advantage with apps that can only use one core at a time. Needless to say, the new devices are really fast -while booting up, launching apps, multi-tasking, viewing photos, editing video, gaming and so on.

Anything Else?

Battery life might be a concern for some, given that the new devices have slightly smaller batteries than before. It's not a major issue since they don't use much power in standby . You'll still find that heavy users will prefer the 6s Plus for all day battery life while 6s users will struggle to last the entire day .The new camera features are a hoot to use: Live Photos (it's like a photo with embedded mini video), slow motion, 4k video is really good (with optical stabilisation -and you can zoom into a recorded video) and built in time lapse.

Wrapping up

3D Touch is great and it has been implemented well across the device -developers will take some time to catch up. Expect it to be a standard feature from now on. If you have an iPhone 5S or older, the benefits of upgrading are huge! Performance is blazing fast and these are some of the best cameras you can get on a smartphone. Like it or not, you can't ignore the prices ­ India is one of the most expensive places to buy an iPhone. And the battery life will continue to be an issue for heavy users. But overall, these two new devices get a high recommendation.

The A9 `Chipgate' ­ Does it Matter?

The new iPhones have barely been out a month but the controversies have already started. Like Antennagate (with the iPhone 4) and Bendgate (with the 6 and 6 Plus), the buzz doing the rounds on social media is Chipgate. It has primarily to do with the fact that Apple has contracted out manufacturing of its A9 chip to two companies: Samsung and TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company). While it still is primarily the same design, the Samsung chip uses a 14nm manufacturing process while the TSMC chip uses a 16nm process.With software-based performance and battery testing, there is a significant difference between the two -with TSMC's version coming out ahead on almost all counts. However, software benchmarks have a habit of testing by maxing out the hardware and this doesn't translate directly to real-world usage. With the two devices that Apple lent us, one was a Samsung and the other was TSMC.With real world usage, the differences fade away to a level where it stops mattering. After all, will you actually be measuring that a TSMC chip device lasted 15 minutes more than a Samsung chip on a daily basis?
There's no way to check which chip a de vice has before buying and they're not distributed in any order. If you have one of the new iPhones and want to check which A9 chip you have, it's fairly simple. Get a free app called Lirum from the App Store. On the home page, you'll see details about the model number. If your device has an A9 from TSMC, it'll say N71mAP or N76mAP. If it's made by Samsung, it'll say N71AP or N66AP.

A 16GB iPhone 6s? Yes or no?

You know that the `s' version in Apple's iPhone line offers mostly internal upgrades rather than overt design upgrades -it's the `tick-tock' cycle in action. This year though, expectations were high that the 16GB en try-level storage version would be done away with. The justifications are many: storage is cheaper, the iPhone now has 4k video recording (which can eat up space faster than you think), photo size has in creased, Android flagship competition is usually 32 or 64GB and app sizes have been growing over the years. Basically, Apple should not be offering a 16GB version on a device of this class at all. If you intend to re ally use the device -with apps, music, vid eos, lots of photos, 4k recording and so on, you need to get at least 64GB.

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