It feels smooth and solid in my hand and while it’s a bit bigger than my second iPhone, a 5S, I have to say that I’m adjusting nicely to my new iPhone 6S. I was relatively late to the iPhone bandwagon in getting an iPhone 4 in 2010 and heartily embraced it and with the camera and connectivity, it dramatically changed how I did a lot of things. While the intention wasn’t to get a new phone right away as my 5S is still working great with no problems, an offer from Eastlink with a discount on my home internet and cable bundle made me switch as getting a new phone and saving money was an offer I couldn’t refuse.
With my phone backed up to iCloud it’s fast and easy to switch phones with just needing to log in to iCloud to have everything come back. Even things like volume level, wallpaper, and other settings all come back which keeps your new phone set up like your old phone. Since Apple Music and is now part of my online life it means that I don’t keep music on my phone, but I’ve got access to everything that is there, so it frees up a lot of space on the phone (which is 64 GB — twice the size of my old iPhone).
The screen is bright and the glass is smooth and feels softer (which is kind of weird but it’s probably from only needing to press lightly on the screen). It’s not as natural-feeling in my hand as the 4 and 5S were, but the bigger screen is much easier to read. Again, as with the other phones it’s much faster and smoother. Things just seem to appear. The Touch ID button is significantly faster at recognizing a fingerprint so the screen unlocks instantly. So fast that I’m having to change my behaviour with the menu button as if I want to view the lock screen I need to touch the power button instead as the lock screen is usually skipped with my thumb on the menu button.
iOS 9 is lovely and the new system font works well for me. Siri is faster and a lot more accurate and with “Hey Siri” I find that I’m recording reminders and responding to messages through dictation. It’s faster to launch apps by just asking for them too. One of the useful embedded features of iOS 9 is the way contexts can be saved when you are looking at something by asking Siri to remind you about it. If you are on a web page reading something you say, “Remind me about this” and a reminder that includes the bookmark of the page gets created. It’s even cooler in my podcast listening app Overcast as I can be listening to something while driving and ask Siri to remind me about it and then in the reminder it will open the podcast and jump within the episode to where I added the reminder. In Instapaper I can be part way through reading something and add a reminder and then pop back into where I left off. That’s useful when you are researching something and don’t want to go to stray too far in looking things up. It’s a great way to jump back to something later if you have to switch to doing something else unexpectedly.
The new and different feature with the 6S is 3D Touch which is challenging to describe and takes a bit of getting used to. It’s a fascinating combination of hardware and software that creates the feeling that the surface of the iPhone is a button. So if you press a bit harder on the glass it feels like it clicks and something happens. The most useful aspect of this is to get a quick preview of a link in Safari or a conversation in Messages. If you want to go to the page or conversation you just press a bit harder and it pops open. Or if you want to do something quickly you can just swipe up and then save or, in Messages, quickly send a reply like “on my way” or something like that. The prebuilt responses grow out of your conversations, so if you text back “cool” to people a lot, that will come up, or if “okey dokey” is more your style, that will appear.
It’s interesting to see how developers are using 3D Touch and my favourite and long-time Twitter client Twitterrific intuitively uses the feature. I can press on a link and get a preview of the web page, look at a user profile, a hashtag, a discussion, or a quoted tweet without having to open it up. It’s fast and intuitive and as other developers add these features it makes everything just a little bit easier and faster.
The set of apps that I’m using a lot has remained the same for a while with Messages, Twitterrific, 1Password, and OmniFocus in the home row as I use each of them all every day. Other frequently used apps are Reporter (for collecting quantified self data), Lifesum (for tracking food and calories), Next (for tracking spending), Drafts (for drafts of notes or tweets), 1Writer (for notes), Spark (for email), Weather Line (for weather), and Fantastical (for my calendar). All the apps seem a lot faster on the new phone and most of them have added 3D Touch integration is useful ways too.
At this point in the development of phones and computer technology there is little more needed, so now we’re in the phase where things are faster and easier. That’s how it is with the camera which has a higher resolution and better performance in low light. For video you can shoot better slow motion and shoot video in 4K which is pretty sharp. The other photo feature is Live Photos which captures some motion around the moment that you press the shutter. It’s neat but not that useful, but it’s a little flourish that is cute.
The battery life is great and with the new “Low Power Mode” it makes it even easier to squeeze more battery life out of the phone by easily reducing the amount of background activity and notifications. It does seem to charge a lot faster than my 5S which is nice. Just a few minutes connected to a battery or the wall charger gives a 20% boost in power, so it doesn’t feel as scary when the battery level is getting a bit low.
I’ve surrounded my phone with the minimalist Peel case which is relatively cheap and solid. I didn’t get a case at all for my 5S and didn’t have a problem, so I probably don’t need one, but it’s nice to have a bit of extra security and the case makes the phone a bit easier to hold without adding much size at all. The phone feels solid and it’s still feels a bit big and awkward at times, but I’m getting used to it. The bigger screen is nice which makes things easier to see and read.
While my 5S was working great and my initial plan was to keep it for another year, I’m happy to have upgraded early to the 6S. It’s fast and powerful and has seamlessly become part of all the stuff I do quickly. The best technology disappears and reduces the friction in what you are doing and that’s exactly what my phone does as I connect with people, share things, and find things with it. What did I do before I had this magical little computer with me all the time?