Earlier this week, I published my iPhone 6s review. I covered the good and the bad — though there was far more good than bad — and I did my best to discuss all of the key new features on this year’s iPhone. Judging by all of the positive feedback I’ve received so far, I was pretty thorough. Alongside major phone launches though, we also supplement our in-depth reviews with separate coverage that focuses on the best and worst things about a new device.
I’ve now spent a week with Apple’s new iPhone 6s, and my pick for the best thing about it isn’t at all what I thought it would be.
Apple’s iPhones have always been a cut above rivals in a number of key areas, but the iOS platform’s biggest strength for me has been its app ecosystem ever since Apple first introduced the App Store. As someone who uses both iOS and Android all the time, every day, I can assure you that the quality of the user experience afforded by iOS apps is far better than it is on Android.
That’s not to say there are no good Android apps. There are thousands and thousands of great Android apps, in fact. But everything from design and layout to simplicity and speed in top iOS apps is always a cut above the UX in top Android counterparts. Apple gets much of the credit for creating tools and guidelines that encourage a consistent experience while still giving developers the freedom to get creative.
Before I received my iPhone 6s last Friday, I presumed Apple’s app advantage would still be the new iPhone’s best feature. And if anything, perhaps the company’s cool new 3D Touch technology would supplant it this year, considering how novel it is. 3D Touch is fantastic and it marks the first major change to smartphone input since the proliferation of capacitive touchscreens, but there’s something about the new iPhone 6s that’s even better than 3D Touch: Speed.
Apple’s new iPhone 6s is fast. Ridiculously fast. I’m not talking about performance tests and benchmark scores, though the new iPhone 6s is indeed the most powerful smartphone that has ever existed according to test results. I’m talking about real-world use, from opening apps to multitasking to gaming and everything in between.
I won’t dive too deep into the technical side of things, but suffice it to say that Apple’s new A9 processor is an engineering feat. The new iPhones also have twice as much RAM as last year’s model, and those RAM chips are now cutting-edge LPDDR4 chips. And there’s a somewhat secret component in Apple’s new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus that no rival phones have, which helps deliver lightning-fast speed as well.
The bottom line for users is this: The user experience Apple has managed to create with the iPhone 6s faster and smoother than any other smartphone in the world.
When you tap an app icon, a fluid animation opens the app and it’s ready to go faster than you can even move your thumb from where the icon was to where it needs to be as you begin interacting with the app. But the phone’s incredible speed can be felt even before you get to your home screen. The iPhone 6s’ more powerful processor and upgraded Touch ID fingerprint scanner unlock the handset so fast that you can barely see the lock screen anymore.
The real benefit here isn’t just a quicker unlock and fast animations, of course. Using apps is faster and more smooth than it has ever been — and it was already the best in the world. Multitasking is a breeze on the iPhone 6s, and the speed improvements are amplified by Apple’s new app switcher gesture. Thanks to 3D Touch, a firm swipe from left to right switches back and forth between apps, and it happens just as quickly on the iPhone 6s as it would on a desktop computer. Seriously.
There’s plenty to love when it comes to Apple’s new iPhones, but the star of the show isn’t 3D Touch or the great new 12-megapixel camera. The “S” stands for “speed,” and that has never been more true than it is with the iPhone 6s.