iPhone 6s, 6s Plus Revealed: New A9 SoC, New 3D Touch, Shoots 4K Video (Updated)

As expected, Apple introduced its next generation of iPhones, the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus, at its San Francisco event. With the exception of a new color, rose gold, the two new handsets looks identical to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, but there are a slew of new features in Apple's latest flagship phones.

Hardware Upgrades

Unlike the previous iPhone 6 models, these phones have the new A9 processor, which Apple claimed has a 70 percent faster CPU, as well as a 90 percent GPU performance increase compared to the A8 processor. It also includes the M9 coprocessor, which helps with maintaining certain apps in low power and handles other functions such as fitness tracking.

In terms of connectivity, it features LTE advanced technology, which is purportedly twice as fast as the current version, thanks to 23 LTE bands. Wi-Fi capabilities are also increased, with speeds up to 866 Mbps.

Peek And Pop

On the software side, there's 3D Touch, which the company called its next generation of multi-touch functionality, which introduces two new gestures: Peek and Pop.

For example, you can lightly press and hold on an app on the Home Screen, and instead of opening the app, a list of options appears below it, allowing users to quickly access certain portions of the app from the Home Screen instead of wading through various tabs on the app itself.

For emails and links, 3D Touch works by peeking at the content. If someone sends you a link via text message, you can press and hold on the link to see its contents while staying in the text app. In emails, you can preview the contents of a message without having to open it in another page.

As for Pop, all you have to do is press harder on the app, link or message, allowing you to access the contents inside.

This new touch mechanic also works in games. A demo showing Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade puts you in control of a large mech robot. With 3D Touch, you can use the game's targeting reticule to zoom in to fire on specific enemies with your arsenal.

Live Photo And 4K

Another batch of upgrades are on the phone's front and rear cameras. The rear camera now has 12 megapixels to get more detail with each photo. However, Apple believes it solved the problem of getting more megapixels at the expense of image quality with a method called deep-trench isolation, which separates the various photo diodes to get a better and more accurate color in each photo.

In terms of video, the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus will finally let its users record 4K video, with the ability to edit videos right on the phone, as before. Considering the size of each 4K video and the amount of storage space available after installing all other apps, music and other data, it might be a bit difficult to have space for a long 4K video on the phone.

On the front, the camera is now upgraded to 5MP, but to improve the quality of images from the front camera, Apple modified the screen. Similar to the True Tone flash used on the rear camera to improve white balance and color, the screen now has a feature called Retina Flash, which essentially makes the screen emit up to three times its current brightness to simulate a camera flash on the front of the iPhone.

Finally, there's Live Photo. It works like taking a regular photo, but a new icon -- a layer of three rings -- is active on the camera app. The result is a moving photo, triggered by pressing and holding the image. The camera takes an initial snapshot and records the next few seconds of both movement and sound. As part of Apple's compatibility across its product line, Live Photo is viewable on the MacBook, iPad and Apple Watch.

Release Date And Pricing

For Apple fans, you won't have to wait long to get the new iPhones. Preorders start on Saturday, September 12, with the full release coming out on September 25. In addition, the prices for each model will be the same as the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were.

Prices (with a two-year contract)iPhone 6siPhone 6s Plus
16 GB$199$299
64 GB$299$399
128 GB$399$499

There's also a new payment program that starts in U.S. Apple Stores called the iPhone Upgrade Program, meant for those who want the latest iPhone every year. It includes the AppleCare+ two-year warranty, and allows you to choose your carrier, as the phone comes unlocked. 

The company also plans to release new accessories to go along with the phones, such as new leather and silicone covers and a charging dock. Prices for those are still unknown. As for the latest version of the operating system, iOS 9, that will come a week before the new iPhones, on September 16.

Update, 9/9/2015, 3:40 p.m. PDT: We clarified the pricing chart for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus to indicate that the prices were only available as part of a two-year contract.

Follow Rexly Peñaflorida II @Heirdeux. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

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  • ohim
    I want to know the feeling of the guys who purchased last year`s iPhone 6 that their phone is already a thing of the past .... Personally i think this 1 year cycle is utterly retarded and it should slow down to 2 or 3 years.
  • house70
    Interestingly absent are the actual stats that confirm (or not) their performance claims. If there are indeed such stats, a link would be nice.
    Not a word about the hardware downgrades, like the battery.
    Finally, can't wait for the article that praises the new Apple Pencil. "If you see a stylus, they blew it" was Apple's logo until yesterday. Apparently, Apple blew it, too, by it's own standards. But hey, they also said nobody needs bigger screens and such other stuff (same stuff they've been playing catch-up with for the last few years).
  • Mac266
    Anyone else think those prices are ridiculously low? $199? Hell the iPhone 6 16 GB was like >$900 here in Aus!