While most of us members of Camp Android would never be swayed by an iPhone, we still find it interesting to see what the competition delivers each year. Last year, Apple brought forth a pretty big change with the introduction of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, with both phones offering considerably larger displays than ever seen before in the world of Apple phones. This year, the changes are much more incremental.
Dubbed as the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, the newest additions to the iPhone family borrow the same design language as found in the original iPhone 6 series. In fact, the only real difference is the addition of a new color that was first seen with the Apple Watch. There are four color choices in total: silver, gold, space gray, and rose gold. While the outside might be largely unchanged, inside you’ll find several key improvements to the iPhone experience. Let’s jump in and take a look.
iPhone 6S and 6S Plus specs and software
At least on paper, the Android world offers considerably faster multi-core processors, plenty more RAM, and other hardware features that Apple has been slow to react to. Instead, Apple focuses on deep software optimization, which allows it to offer similar or arguably better performance with much more modest components. That said, Apple is finally making some changes that help close the spec gap a little.
First off, Apple is finally moving away from its reliance on devices with 1GB RAM, with the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus both offering an Apple A9 chipset with 2GB RAM. The new chip claims to boast 70% faster CPU performance and 90% GPU performance over the Apple A8. For those into fingerprint scanners, Apple also promises double the speed with its 2nd-gen scanner.
The camera package is getting a sizable update this time around. Apple has always provided pretty high-end camera experiences, despite sticking to the 8MP standard, but with the new iPhone family we now see a 12MP camera that is capable of 4K recording. While it is hard to say how much better the camera is, Apple tends to do pretty well here, and we imagine the same story will apply with their new 12MP iSight cam. On the frontside you’ll find a 5MP front cam that promises a great selfie experience.
Beyond this, most of the spec improvements are fairly minor. The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus retain the same screen sizes and resolutions as their predecessors, at 4.7-inch with 720p and 5.5-inches with a 1080p display. No QHD or 4K here. One interesting new feature is 3D Touch, however.
Apple first offered Force Touch functionality with its Apple Watch and now they have rebranded it as 3D Touch, which allows the phone to distinguish between a deep press and a tap. As you can imagine, this opens up the door to new ways to navigate around your apps and the UI itself. On the homescreen, you can bring up shortcuts to the things you do most frequently, and you can even lightly press on your apps to get previews to the content or specific tasks within apps. Holding down longer can be used to pop into content, such as messages within an app, and the list goes on. We imagine there will be plenty of other interesting in-app uses for 3D Touch as well, dependent on how app developers decide to utilize it.
On the software front, the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus will arrive with iOS 9, which was first introduced at WDC this summer. The overall UI remains about the same as its predecessor, but the OS update does introduce new split-screen app modes for select devices, Apple Map improvements, a new “News” app, picture-in-picture video, Apple Pay improvements, and more.
iPhone 6S and 6S Plus price and availability
The iPhone 6S starts at $199 on contract for the 16GB model, with the larger iPhone 6S starting at $299 for the same storage configuration. The 64GB model brings the contract price up $100, and another $100 after that for the 128GB model. You can expect the latest phones to hit store shelves on September 25th, with pre-orders scheduled to begin on September 12th.
For those that prefer payment plans, Apple is also introducing a US-only program in its retail stores called the “iPhone Upgrade Program”. With this leasing program you can get a new iPhone each year, can choose your carrier and receive an unlocked phone, and the service inlcues AppleCare+. Pricing begins at $32 a month.
The new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus do not offer massive upgrades, even for existing Apple users, nor did we expect them to. The “S” entries are always incremental improvements, but Apple still made a few welcome improvements such as bolstering up the RAM and introducing 3D Touch to its phone family.
For Android users, there’s obviously little to see here. Everything that Apple presented has been available to us in one form or another for a while, and there’s still a lot missing from the iOS experience that most of us couldn’t live without. On the other hand, for Apple fans who skipped the iPhone 6 generation, the 6S and 6S Plus could provide compelling upgrade choices.
What do you think of Apple’s latest? Let us know what you think in the comments.
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After seemingly endless pricing cutbacks throughout the past year or so, it’s looking like Amazon’s Fire Phone is finally becoming extinguished. According to GeekWire, Amazon has stopped sales of the Fire Phone, most likely for good.
The product page on Amazon’s website lists the phone as unavailable, with a comment that reads “We don’t know when or if this item will be back in stock”. Not only that, a spokeswoman recently told GeekWire that the company sold out of its supply of Fire Phones in the U.S. and globally at the end of August. Now, there’s always a slight possibility that Amazon could get more in stock, but given the recent circumstances, that’s probably not going to happen.
The Fire Phone hasn’t ever been a hit among consumers, and that’s been made incredibly apparent by the fact that the company wrote off $170 million last October due to poor Fire Phone sales. This statistic coupled with weak penetration into the mainstream smartphone market led to dozens of layoffs of engineers that worked on the Fire Phone in Lab126, the company’s hardware development center.
If you’re interested in purchasing one of these devices before they’re gone for good, you can still find them on eBay for just over $130 with a full year of Amazon Prime.
Apple today announced the 4.7-inch iPhone 6s and 5.5-inch iPhone 6s Plus at its “Hey Siri” media event in San Francisco. The new iPhones feature 3D Touch with “peek and pop” gestures that provide access to actionable shortcuts and content previews.
iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus are powered by an Apple A9 chip and embedded M9 motion coprocessor that deliver up to 70% faster CPU performance and up to 90% faster graphics compared to the A8 chip inside the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
The smartphones feature an improved 12-megapixel rear-facing iSight camera with 4K video recording and 5-megapixel front-facing FaceTime camera with true tone Retina Flash — in low light, the front display will flash for a split second instead of traditional LED flash.
iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus also have a second-generation Touch ID fingerprint scanner that is up to two times faster compared to Touch ID on previous iPhones.
The ninth-generation iPhones are crafted from Series 7000 aluminum and come in a new rose gold color, alongside silver, space gray and gold. Otherwise, the handsets look virtually the same as the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
iPhone 6s retails for $199/$299/$399 for 16GB/64GB/128GB respectively on a two-year contract. iPhone 6s Plus retails for $299/$399/$499 for 16GB/64GB/128GB respectively on a two-year contract. Carrier financing and leasing programs are also available through AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and many other carriers worldwide.
Apple today announced that iOS 9 will be released to the public on September 16 for compatible iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices. The software update will come preinstalled on the new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus out of the box when the smartphones launch on September 25.
iOS 9 is compatible with the iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5, iPhone 4s, iPad Pro, iPad 2, iPad 3, iPad 4, iPad Air, iPad Air 2, iPad mini, iPad mini 2, iPad mini 3, iPad mini 4, fifth-generation iPod touch and sixth-generation iPod touch.
iOS 9 was announced last June at WWDC and features a News app, Proactive Suggestions, Low Power Mode, split-screen multitasking on iPad, Apple Maps transit routing, a new systemwide San Francisco font, an optional iCloud Drive app, wireless CarPlay support, a revamped two-factor authentication system, keyboard enhancements, improved security, new developer tools and more.
Apple today announced a new feature for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus called “Live Photos” that allows users to use the new 3D touch feature to see quick, GIF-like moments of photos they have taken. The company reinstated that the Live Photo feature is not video, it’s an actual photo with all of the same high-quality camera capabilities brought to the new generation of iPhone, but with the ability to move when a user presses onto the photo for a few seconds with 3D touch.
To do this, the feature records 1.5 seconds of video on each side of a photo to capture movement. The company also confirmed that Live Photos will be able to be viewed on the entire line-up of the Mac, iPhone, iPad, and even Apple Watch line. Users will even be able to use the new feature to set up Live Photos as a lock screen on iPhone, and even use the feature to make custom motion wallpapers each time you raise the Apple Watch to check the watch face.
Today at its “Hey Siri” special event, Apple announced a brand new program at its retail stores called the iPhone Upgrade Program. The program is designed for users who want to have the newest iPhone every year.
Signing up for the program gets you a brand new iPhone every year and allows users the ability to choose their carrier with an unlocked phone. The program will initially begin at retail locations in the U.S. before rolling out internationally. Pricing for the program starts at $32 a month and includes AppleCare+.
The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus will be available for preorder on September 12 and available for purchase on September 25.
Apple briefly covered the topic of some new accessories for its new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus line at today’s media event in San Francisco. The company revealed that they will ship four docks in matching colors of the iPhones: Gold, Rose Gold, Space Gray, and Silver.
The company also confirmed the launch of some new colors in both its leather and silicon line-up, but didn’t give a specific run-down of which new options would be available.
Apple today seeded the golden master (GM) version of iOS 9 to developers. The golden master represents the final version of iOS 9 that will be released to the public on September 16, two days ahead of the official launch of the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus.
The update is available through Apple’s over-the-air updating mechanism on iOS devices and it can also be downloaded through the Apple Developer Center.
Prior to the launch of the golden master, Apple seeded five betas of iOS 9 to developers and public beta testers, with the fifth and final beta released on August 6.
iOS 9 focuses on intelligence and proactivity, allowing iOS devices to learn user habits and act on that information, providing recommendations to places we might like, apps we might like to use, and more. Siri is smarter with iOS 9, able to create contextual reminders and offer up more information through improved search options.
Built-in apps like Maps, Notes, and Mail have been improved in iOS 9, and Apple Pay has been renamed Wallet. iOS 9 introduces split-screen multitasking for the iPad for the first time, and there are some significant under-the-hood improvements that will result in more battery life, more storage space through smaller app install sizes, and enhanced performance.
The new Apple TV is here, just unveiled at today’s big event. Speculation about Apple’s plans for the living room have circled for years, and this represents its most powerful assault on the space so far. A hardware refresh in 2012 added 1080p support but not much else, so we’re more than due for an upgrade, and exec Eddy Cue appropriately called today “a big day for the big screen.” Tim Cook called it “the future of television,” promising a new tvOS, App Store and showing off features including deep Siri integration with a new remote.
That remote has a touchscreen, mic and Wii-like motion controls built in, necessary for Siri to search across “multiple content options” (Netflix, Hulu, HBO and Showtime, with more to come) on a single screen. Universal search is a feature already offered by competitors like Roku, Samsung, Amazon and Xbox that makes it easy to find a show or movie without having to know which service or app it’s in first, and now it’s on Apple TV too. There will be two versions of the new Apple TV: a 32GB model for $149, and 64GB model for $199, shipping in October to over 80 countries.Slideshow-318411
Get all the news from today’s iPhone event right here.
In the onstage demo, Apple showed off features using Siri to locate content by genre, actor or just asking “what’s good for kids?” It also has a feature where asking “Siri, what did he/she say?” automatically skips back a few seconds and turns on the captions. Taking a page from Siri on iOS (as well as other helper like Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana) Siri can pull up info on the TV screen like general facts and current sports scores. Everything during the demo looked to be voice controlled, including switching apps.
The remote is connected to the box by Bluetooth 4.0, with volume control for your TV, as well as an accelerometer and gyroscope for the motion control features. Apple says it can go three months without charging, but when you need to top it up, it connects to the same Lightning plug as current iPhones and iPads. There’s support for third-party controllers via Bluetooth too, key for the gaming experiences Apple is expecting.
As for the box itself, it looks a little taller than the previous squared-off hockey puck. Inside is a 64-bit A8 chip, with connections via an IR sensor, Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11ac WiFi. There’s no mention of external storage support, or any resolutions beyond 1080p, so we’re figuring those aren’t in the cards this time around.
Oh, and about those apps. Once again, the rumors are on target, with Apple unveiling its new iOS-based tvOS. Apple says everything from Netflix to games like Star Wars and Guitar Hero are coming to Apple TV now. Following Siri, the next software demo featured Crossy Road, which is coming at the launch of Apple TV with a new multiplayer mode, that could add players using iPhones as controllers. Harmonix is showing off a Beat Sports game that uses the remote’s motion controls to add Nintendo Wii-style features.
The next demonstration featured the shopping app Gilt, where of course buyers can swipe through different looks and buy them directly from the remote. Slightly more impressive is a new MLB.com At-Bat app that not only pulls in games in 60fps, but also features split-screen to watch multiple games, and notifications about events as they’re happening that can pull you into a live broadcast.
Both versions of the new Apple TV launch next month alongside the current $69 Apple TV third-gen, but developers can access the tvOS beta and start working on apps today.
Tags: apple, appletv, ATV4, breaking news, hdpostcross, iphone2015, motioncontrol, remote, Siri, tvOS, video
Apple’s iPad line has typically been the star of its own October event in years past, but the company is changing things up and including iPad updates in its big iPhone event today. The big news is the new iPad Pro, but Apple is also releasing the new iPad mini 4, the first substantial update to Apple’s smaller iPad in almost two years. As the rumors predicted, Apple’s 7.9-inch tablet has had its internals updated to match last year’s iPad Air 2. That means Apple’s A8x processor is on board, a substantial upgrade from the A7 the iPad mini has sported for the last two years. That extra processing power is particularly important, because it means the iPad mini should be able to run all of iOS 9’s fancy new multitasking features.
Apple also upgraded the iPad mini’s back camera, if that sort of thing is important to you. It now sports an 8-megapixel shooter; in all likelihood, it’s the same camera found on the iPad Air 2. Otherwise, the iPad mini 4 is just what you expect: it comes in space grey, silver and gold, includes storage starting at 16GB going all the way up to 128GB and keeps the same excellent Retina display the device has featured since 2013. As with last year, pricing starts at $399 for the 16GB model. This is the update we had hoped we’d see for the iPad mini last year — aside from adding Touch ID, the iPad mini 3 was identical to the model that preceded it. And with Apple keeping the iPad mini 2 on sale at a pretty significant discount, it was hard to recommend last year’s model.
That’s all changed now, as the iPad mini 4 is on par spec-wise with the iPad Air 2 — and it looks like Apple’s larger-screen iPad isn’t getting an update, at least not at this event. (Rumors say it’ll be updated sometime in 2016, but it’s not clear exactly when yet.) Apple also cut the price of the iPad mini 2 to $269 for a 16GB model. It’s a little disappointing that Apple seems to be slowing down the pace of iPad hardware updates, but it’s entirely possible this new pattern is due to the thought that consumers don’t upgrade their iPads nearly as often as they do their smartphones.
Tags: apple, ipad, ipadair, ipadmini, ipadmini4, iphone2015