Updated on 10-30-2015 by Malarie Gokey: Added news that the 3D Touch feature on the iPhone 6S can be used to weigh objects –sadly, it’s only for jailbroken devices for now. Also added a table of contents.
Apple’s new 3D touch-enabled screen takes multitouch to the next level by adding a third dimension: pressure. It’s sort of like Force Touch on the Apple Watch, but with special features for the iPhone and different levels of pressure. Apple calls it “3D Touch.” A light press on the screen will bring up a preview of content, whether it be an image, a website, or an itinerary. If you keep pressing, you’ll enter the content you selected. It allows you to dip in and out of where you are without losing context. The background of the app you’re in blurs out a bit, so you can see a preview on top.
The feature can also apparently allow the iPhone to weigh objects. App developer Simon Gladman created an app that weighs plums called the Plum-O-Meter. It uses 3D Touch to weigh the plums and tell you which is heavier. The weighing function is not supported by Apple — Gladman had to jailbreak the device to make it work — however, it may be supported in the future.
According to Apple, you won’t have to jam down on the screen like you do on the Apple Watch; just a small bit of pressure can be registered on the screen, and the phone can tell the difference between mini taps and full taps. Capacitive sensors in the backlight portion of the display measure microscopic changes in distance between the glass and sensors. It also uses the accelerometer to determine pressure levels with more accuracy.
Apple showed off a demo of 3D Touch in action with Mail and iMessage apps. You can flick up from the bottom of the screen for actions like send, forward, etc. If the person you’re conversing with mentions a time, a flight plan, or other info, a light tap will bring up your calendar so you can check if you’re free, or show you the flight status.
3D Touch also works with apps on your home screen to bring up quick actions, so if you tap on the phone app, you’ll see your favorite contacts. You don’t have to actually enter the app to access features you use the most. If you tap on the camera, it’ll bring up “emergency selfie” mode. Of course, this mostly works with Apple apps, but some third-party apps will get the feature, including Dropbox, Facebook, WeChat, and Instagram.
Apple integrated 3D Touch into iOS 9 on several other levels, so it also works with multitasking. To get to multitasking mode, you no longer have to double tap the home button, but rather apply a little force on the edge of the screen to get into app carousel.
Price and release date
The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus both launched in a handful of countries in September, but now Apple is continuing its rollout to other countries. As of October 9 and 10, the new iPhones are on sale in 40+ more countries, including many Eastern European countries, Scandinavia, some parts of Asia, and the Middle East.
Here’s the full list for October 9: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Maldives, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Taiwan. And for October 10: Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates
In the United States, Apple will sell the iPhone 6S for $200 and the iPhone 6S Plus for $650 and up unlocked or for $300, with two-year contracts. For carriers with installment plans instead of contracts, typical installments will start at $27 per month for iPhone 6S and $31 per month for the iPhone 6S Plus. Apple also has a new iPhone upgrade program, which nets you a new iPhone every year – for a variable monthly fee. You can check out our comparison of all the offers here and see our breakdown of the Apple upgrade plan here.
We’ll keep you updated on availability, as more countries receive the phone.
A 12-megapixel camera with 4K video
The iPhone 6S’s camera finally got a huge upgrade with a 12-megapixel iSight camera and a two-tone flash. The increase in pixels improves the detail in photos, but Apple claims that image quality won’t be degraded thanks to new technology like “deep trench isolation,” which separates the photo diodes to maintain accurate colors and limit noise. The sensor has 50 percent more pixels as well as 50 percent more focus pixels to make auto focus faster.
The company showed off a number of incredible images taken with the iPhone 6S, and assured the crowd that none were retouched. A new panorama shot shows off how much bigger the panoramas can be, too. The iPhone 6S can now shoot 4K video, too — though you won’t be able to appreciate all the extra pixels viewing videos on the phone’s sub-4K screen.
Apple showed some love to the selfie cam, too with a 5-megapixel front-facing camera and a “true tone” flash. It lights up the phone’s main display to produce an accurate “flash” that matches the colors the camera sees. That way, the flash doesn’t wash out your face in the selfie.
A new feature called Live Photos essentially acts like the moving pictures in Harry Potter: You touch the photo and the picture moves. The live photos can even have sounds. The camera extends the capture mode for just a few seconds so you can see them move. You can use these live photos as wallpaper on your Apple Watch, and Facebook will also support the feature.
Design stays the same
Apple chose to keep the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus’ physical design the same, but now offers a rose gold aluminum finish in addition to the silver, space gray, and gold versions. The new iPhones are made out of the new 7000 series aluminum that was used on the Apple Watch.
Faster A9 processor, Hey Siri, and more
Apple’s iPhone 6S and 6S Plus are powered by the A9 64-bit processor, which boasts a new transistor architecture for better energy efficiency. Apple says it’s 70 percent faster than the A8 at CPU tasks, and 90 percent faster at graphics tasks than the A8. An onboard M9 co-processor is always on to track steps and other fitness metrics. The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus support LTE Advanced, so it should be twice as fast, and Apple supports 23 frequency bands. Wi-Fi is allegedly twice as fast, too.
As expected, the Hey Siri feature lets you speak directly to your iPhone without it being plugged in. Just say, “Hey Siri,” and you’re in. The iPhone 6S has a new Touch ID sensor that is “faster than ever,” which should improve the Apple Pay experience greatly.
Next page: All the previous rumors about the new iPhones