Battery, A9 SoC Performance

The iPhone 6s Plus packs a 2,750mAh battery which is actually slightly smaller than last year's. Given the improvements in iOS 9, however, you’re probably not going to notice any significant drop in battery life.

Should you find yourself running low on juice or it projects to be an extra busy day for your phone, you may want to take advantage of a new feature in iOS 9 called Low Power Mode. As the name suggests, this mode enables (or in some cases, disables) certain features to reduce your phone’s power consumption.

The description notes that mail fetch, background app refresh, automatic downloads and some visual effects are reduced or turned off while in Low Power Mode. Some other adjustments you’ll likely notice include a slight dimming of the display and a shorter display timeout. The battery icon turns yellow to indicate you’re in Low Power Mode.

It’s also worth pointing out that sheer processing performance is throttled by as much as 40 percent. While performing everyday tasks like surfing the web or text messaging, the speed reduction is hardly noticeable. Fire up a game, however, and you may see some slowdowns but then again, if you’re already running low on juice, gaming probably isn’t high on your list of priorities.

Another fun fact – if your device is laying face down and you receive a notification, the display won’t light up when you receive a notification. This behavior takes place all the time, not just in power-saving mode.

As is the case on virtually every modern mobile device, one of the quickest ways to run the battery down in a hurry is to max out the brightness. That’s probably unavoidable when using the phone outside under direct sunlight but indoors, it’s easy to keep the brightness at 50 percent or less and get lots of life out of the 6s Plus without sacrificing image quality or readability.

Mileage will of course vary based on your lifestyle and usage but just like last year, I’ve had no problems making it through a full day of regular use.

Performance and final thoughts

If benchmark results alone aren’t enough of an indicator, the A9 SoC inside the new iPhone is incredibly fast. The 6s Plus never exhibited a hint of lag in iOS 9. Animations are buttery smooth and tasks like surfing the web, composing e-mails and switching between apps presented zero problems. I’m not much of a mobile gamer although the few titles I did try looked and played great.

As I mentioned earlier, much of the performance here can be credited to having both hardware and software under one roof. The extra gigabyte of RAM certainly doesn’t hurt matters either and it’s clear that opting for a lower resolution 1080p display frees up some valuable processing cycles that come in handy when running power-hungry apps.

This year’s new batch of iPhones more or less follows the formula we’re accustomed too in an “s” release but there’s more here than usual. Apple will probably never be able to convince consumers that “s” models are indeed the better buy, but they’re certainly making a good case for the argument with the iPhone 6s Plus.

Apple fans rejoice... the iPhone 6s Plus is one of – if not the – fastest smartphone money can buy today. The dual-core A9 SoC alongside 2GB of RAM is a real powerhouse and highlights the importance of designing hardware and software in-house.

Much like Google has done with Marshmallow, focusing on core improvements in iOS 9 has really paid dividends. The UI looks more polished and refined than ever and feels incredibly snappy in everyday use.

The new 12-megapixel camera is an improvement but it’s not as dramatic a step as you might think. The iPhone may be the world’s most widely-used camera but there are others out there that are just as good or better than it. It's not the DSLR-quality camera rumors led us to believe and thus, there's no reason to give up your standalone digital camera just yet. Live Photos seems like a novel concept but in actuality, it’s little more than a gimmick.

Worth addressing is the obvious lack of a 32GB entry-level model. I get that iOS 9 is slimmer than its predecessor but with a vast selection of apps to choose from and a camera that now generates much larger file sizes, it’s time for the 16GB storage option to be put out to pasture.

What’s not a gimmick, however, is 3D Touch. Apple is laying the groundwork for a whole new take on multi-touch and while it’s not immensely powerful just yet, it has the potential to be a real game-changer once developers fully utilize it. This is without a doubt the single best new feature on Apple’s ninth generation smartphone.

Yes, this is the best iPhone Apple has ever made. But with so many excellent Android phones to choose from, defecting to Apple is a much harder sell than in years past.

Save for the short-lived 5c, the iPhone has never been a cheap or budget-minded handset. That’s never been more evident than now with companies like Google, Motorola and OnePlus putting out high-end hardware at incredibly attractive price points.

The bottom line is that if you want a new iPhone, you’re going to have to pay a premium for it. Wireless carriers and even Apple have made it easier than before to get the latest flagship through various financing and leasing programs and unless you trade in your phone every year or even sooner, know that you’ll eventually be paying several hundred dollars for the opportunity.

It’s become cliché to say but it bears repeating: this is the best iPhone Apple has ever made (and there’d be a serious problem if that weren’t true with each new release). If you’re invested in Apple’s ecosystem and it’s time for an upgrade, you really can’t go wrong with either of the new iPhones. Those coming from other platforms or otherwise contemplating trying an iPhone for the first time have plenty to look forward to but with so many excellent Android phones to choose from at a range of price points and new Windows phones just around the corner, defecting to Apple is a much harder sell than in years past.

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Pros: Familiar quality design with stronger aluminum build. Outstanding performance from A9 SoC. Excellent camera. 3D Touch seems genuinely useful. Improved water resistance.

Cons: Apple is sticking to 16GB for the base model, forcing you to pay more on an already expensive device to get decent storage (no microSD slot either).