Just as we expected, Apple announced the next versions of its best-selling smartphones, the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, at its annual launch event in San Francisco. Also as we expected, the iPhone 6S looks identical to last year’s 4.7-inch iPhone 6, reserving its most important changes for the hardware interior.
The biggest, and most noticeable change to this year’s set of phones is “3D Touch,” a pressure-sensitive display technology that lets you push in to do new things on your phone. After getting a chance to check out the new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus briefly at Apple’s San Francisco event, these were our impressions. No surprise, but the new iPhones have nearly identical hand feel and design. Put one in someone’s hand, and there’s no way they’d know if it was an “S” model or not. True, there is a new color now, called rose gold (it basically looks like a blush pink, same as the new Apple Watch color option that the company announced).
But as far as looks go, this extra shade is the extent of the changes you’ll be able to visually detect between this year’s and last year’s phones. Apple’s emphasis on hardware upgrades over design development follows the pattern that the Cupertino-based company has long established: significant changes come in the even years and incremental updates in the odd. It’s a move that could alienate buyers as much cheaper “premium” handsets compete with titans like Apple for market share. However, significant updates to the iPhone 6S’ camera technology, a new form of pressure-sensitive navigation called 3D Touch, and a faster processor all combine to keep the next-generation phone looking competitive enough to counter other top-tier handsets as we approach the year-end holiday rush.
Apple says that its phone may look the same as last year’s model, but its iPhone 6S duo has achieved more inner strength. This time it uses a different grade of aluminum for its chassis, one that’s also used in the aerospace industry. They call it Series 7,000, and it’s the same aluminum alloy Apple puts into its Apple Watch Sport. The company clearly hopes this reinforced material will help deflect against future “Bendgate” backlashes, where some customers complained that their 5.5-inch iPhone 6S phones “bent” after being sat on. Apparently, a new type of chemically strengthened glass also tops the iPhone 6S, though the company hasn’t confirmed if this is cover material from Corning’s Gorilla Glass line or not.