Here we are: Apple just announced the ninth version of the iPhone, the thing that every ad will be compelling you to buy for the next year. It’s the same 4.7-inch aluminium sliver that makes up the iPhone 6, but with a way better camera, and some touchy-feely tricks.
This story was originally posted at 4:35AM, Thursday 10th September.
Visually, it’s going to be a case of meet-the-new-boss: the 6s will be a hair thicker than its predecessor, but not enough that you can tell the difference with a pair of calipers. Otherwise, it’s the same rounded edges, buttons, and 4.7-inch screen that you can find on the iPhone 6.
There’s going to be one important change to the body, though: a new 7000-series aluminium alloy, the same found in the Apple Watch Sport, will be used. Maybe it’s strong enough to withstand violent bending? I’m sure the good YouTubers of the world will investigate fully.
The Ion-X glass covering the screen is also newer and stronger — fewer cracked screens, fingers crossed.
We’re also getting a new colour: don’t-call-it-pink ‘rose gold’ joins space grey, white, and gold in the lineup.
Apple introduced ‘Force Touch‘, a pressure-sensitive trackpad that provides haptic feedback, back with the Apple Watch last year. It’s now weaseled its way into the 6s, under the guise of ‘3D Touch’. What does that mean? Well, the touchscreen can now tell how hard you’re pressing (it can differentiate between a tap, a standard press, and a deep press), and use that to help you navigate around your phone faster. Push lightly lets you ‘peek’ at things, deep press causes it to ‘pop’ out for further touching.
Examples: deep press on the phone icon to go straight to voicemail. Deep press on a song in Music to get a bunch of different options. Press extra-hard on a location in Maps, and your phone will start turn-by-turn navigation there with no further prompting.
Apple’s hammering how this will help you navigate around without loosing your place — rather than having to tap into a email to read it, you can lightly press to peek preview, and then longer press to dive in if needed.
Basically, 3D Touch should let you navigate around your iPhone much quicker. It doesn’t add much (if any) new functionality, but in a lot of places, one deep press replaces two or three normal taps.
There’s also haptic feedback — the screen has little motors behind it, which buzz in a particular way when you press the screen. It should feel something like clicking a trackpad.
It’s worth pointing out that Apple is not the first company to use this kind of technology, in either a laptop, or a smartphone. The technology to make it possible has been around for a while — it’s all about combining that with the right software mix to make it useful.
The iPhone’s camera has always been very solid, but this year Apple’s looking to do a little better than that. Both new camera modules, on the front and the back, are a real doozy.
The front-facing camera is getting a major upgrade to deal with the rise of the selfie generation. It’s now a much larger sensor, capable of taking 1080p video or 5MP stills. The software that controls it is also getting a revamp: you’ll now be able to take ‘selfie panoramas’ (although, just because you can do something, does not mean that you should), slow-motion video, and use the phone’s screen as a makeshift flash.
The real magic is happening around the back, though: a new 12-megapixel camera, able to take much better stills, but also capture 4K video. That’s not a first for a smartphone — that crown was taken all the way back in 2013 — but here’s hoping that integrating 4K video into an iPhone will make the format more popular.
It’s not all about the megapixels, though: using new technology like ‘deep-trench isolation’, the sensor has been improved to give better colour accuracy, less noise, and superior low-light performance. The long and short: better, prettier pictures.
There’s a new A9 processor, with all the kinds of improvements you’d expect — 70 per cent faster at CPU tasks, 90 per cent faster for GPU, according to Apple’s scrupulously honest stats guys.
As always, that will allow increasingly graphics-intensive games to run — games which, buy the way, will make use of 3D Touch as another way to play.
The motion co-processor that tracks your activity also gets a shout-out: this time around, it’s integrated right into the A9 processor. TouchID is here as well, and 2x faster to boot.
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