The Apple iPhone 6s Plus (128GB) is clearly the most expensive smartphone in the Indian market if you take Vertu and other such luxury brands out of the picture. You don’t really need to spend Rs 92,000 on a smartphone now, as even Rs 20,000 phones give good features and user experience. But that does not mean no one will buy an expensive phone these days. There is a reasonably large market for expensive phones, driven by people who want a top-end device for its performance, dependability or just flaunt value.
I lived a week with the Apple iPhone 6s Plus (128GB) and here are my takeaways.
This was my second stint with the new iPhone, as I had played with it a bit in the US. But this was the time first time I did a full setup for the phone. Since I use an iPad set-up was relatively easy. One slightly frustrating bit in contrast to Android is the fact that you can’t set up an iOS phone without a SIM.
The first thing that I noticed about the iPhone 6s Plus is its weight. It is for sure heavier than the iPhone 6 Plus, though the difference might be insignificant. And it is also among the heavier phones I have used. The design is not very different from the iPhone 6, though Apple claims to have used better material and aircraft grade aluminium. The phone also feels a bit thicker than its predecessor.
This is for sure the cutting edge feature everyone is looking forward to in the new iPhones. My first take is that it does take some getting used to. Actually, the first press goes against your natural inclination to not put too much stress on anything made of glass. The hard press activates the Peek and leads to a preview on mail, open quick options on compatible apps and gives you options when you get a link on iMessage.
Push it a bit more and you have the Pop, which for instance opens the mail you were previewing. Over the week, I noticed that I don’t use the 3D Touch a lot on the apps or mail. The one place I use it is with is the Live Photos in the gallery, pushing to make them come to life.
I am moving to the iPhone after a series of Android phones that touted great cameras — the OnePlus 2, Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ and Samsung Galaxy Note 5. So my expectations are generally high. So much so that for my past few trips I have kept the DSLR safely in its bag. The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus feature the cool new Live Photo option. It almost adds life to your still photos by sandwiching it with some seconds of video. The entire thing starts looking like a GIF and is brought to life with the 3D Touch.
All photos are shot in live mode by default, but you can disable the same if you want to save space. The still image is just half the fun, the flood of expressions that come before and after that split second adds so much value to the memory. However, the catch is that for now you cannot view these photos outside the Apple ecosystem. We will need to wait for Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to come up with support for this new format. I found a new app called Live GIF that lets you save Live Photos as GIFs or video and share on social network. The clarity takes a hit, but it is a good way to show the world these lively pictures.
Overall, the iPhone 6s Plus seems to be among the best smartphone cameras. What I like best is the fact that pictures look natural in the end and not over-saturated and over-processed as it ends up being on many Android phones. And the colour reproduction as well as eye for detail is second to none. There are a couple of other unique features too.
For instance, Apple has started using the display to light up your face while clicking a selfie. And the best thing here is that the phone recognises the ambient light and calibrates the screen with it so that the flash looks natural and you do not end up looking like that image on your voter ID card.
The other cool feature is 4K video. Nothing really new for I first used ultra HD in a camera phone two years ago. But Apple gets one thing right, keeping the phone cool while shooting in this extra high definition format. Plus, there is no other phone out there that can edit and process 4K video without breaking into a sweat or heating up. This is also a great testament to the abilities of the A9 processor.
This has never been an issue with the iPhone. The software and hardware are synced perfectly, at least till the updates arrive, to offer a great experience for the user. The iPhone 6s Plus is no different. It is certainly among the fastest and smoothest phones I have used in a while. But more significantly is dependable. There hasn’t been a single OS freeze since I started using the device, nor has there been a surge in the thermal footprint of the phone. Even the best Android phones have been struggling with these two aspects till now.
Plus, multi-tasking has become easier and faster with iOS 9 as you now have the option of going back to the app that you opened an attachment from.
The perfect sync of hardware and software that I mentioned gives you dependable battery life. It is after ages that I am not carrying a charger in my bag or car. I know this phone will last without an issue. I pull the phone out with 100 per cent charge at 8 am and went to sleep at 11 pm with 17 per cent charge left. On some days, it drained a bit faster because I shot a 4K video. But this dependability is all we smartphone users need.
There is one aspect of Android that I love and have not really been able to experience on the iOS device, at least not natively, and that is Google Now. I am addicted to the Google cards that tell me how long the drive to my office will take or when my next flight is coming up. The app is there on iOS too, but it is a standalone app and the experience is no where close. But then Apple has Siri. I have not really been impressed by Siri in India so far, because it could not pick my South Indian missionary-educated accent, nor could it give me relevant data for India.
That is no longer so. Siri can now pronounce my name, even though a bit weirdly. Better still, she can understand my name or other Indian names when I ask for a search. She does try to skirt a lot of questions with a “I really couldn’t answer that,” and still cannot tell you distances in India. I think it is time Apple plugged this gap, especially since Apple maps is reasonably good and there are other data sources it can tap into for accurate data. Remember, this is a premium phone and Siri has to rise up to the role of a concierge.
I have now used the Apple iPhone 6s Plus for an entire working week and as my primary phone. Let me tell you this is the most relaxed I have felt with a a phone in a long time, primarily because I am not glancing at the battery icon every 10 minutes to see how long I have to go and I am not entering a new place with a recee of the power point.
Just the battery life of this phone makes it among the best smartphones in the market in my books. It also has one of the best cameras in the business and, of course, an overall experience that showcases the power of its processor and robustness of the platform.
With the extra screen size, superb processing power and battery life, the Apple iPhone 6s Plus has the potential to be the dependable business phone a lot of us want.