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Buyer's Guide: iPHONE 6s

For loyal Apple customers, the annual launch of the new iPhone is one of the year's seminal events. Despite only twelve months worth of improvements of which to boast — technological gains in 2015 require relatively little time, but purportedly upgraded smart-phones are released with suspiciously clockwork regularity — there is little sign that their popularity is under threat. Even the emergence of viable alternatives (most notably Samsung's Galaxy range) has thus far failed to unseat the iPhone as the nominal standard-bearer for next generation mobile technology.

Is this reputation still deserved? At first glance, the 6s does not appear radically different from its predecessor, although the body has reportedly been reinforced just enough to avoid a repeat of the pocket bending controversy which blighted the launch of the iPhone 6 last year (but little enough to maintain that trademark super slim profile view). For the fashion-conscious, Apple have also added an extra colour to their range — namely "rose gold", an understated, pale shade of pink — which is a cute customization option but hardly anything worthy of the obligatory pre-launch hype.

Pitted against this year's three other big releases (HTC's One M9, Samsung's Galaxy S6, and latterly, the LG G4) this latest iPhone does not exactly stand out on the strength of the standardised specifications either, its relatively small screen falling shy of the 5 inch mark (of course, a more compact device is not without advantages), and the 12Mp rear camera also comparing rather unfavourably to those of its competitors, even if it is admittedly the one significant spec improvement on the previous Apple release, which featured a disappointing 8Mp lens. With the standard of things like display definition, processor power and Wi-Fi capability near uniform across the major brands, one has to delve beneath surface hardware in order to set them apart.


Don't forget to accessorize your iPhone
The ninth generation iPhone's unique selling point appears to be contained within its traditional Apple-exclusive operating software instead, which distinguishes it from the unadventurous Android-supporting smart-phones of rival brands. Conveniently, the much anticipated iOS 9 has been released just in time for the iPhone 6s, and while it is compatible with previous models (as far back as the 4s), new features have largely been designed to bring the most out of Apple's upgraded touch-screen technology.

The new 3D Touch feature means clicks and swipes perform subtly different actions depending on the amount of pressure you apply with your finger, a light tap giving you a fleeting "peep" at the contents of an email and a heavier one opening it outright (aka a "pop"), for example. In practice, this means multi-tasking and quick navigation are made easier — something eventually worth the inevitable initial period of acclimatisation required to fully get to grips with the way it works.

Other significant changes on the new operating system include the option for users to run their devices at a subtly reduced power setting and thereby prolong battery life by up to 4 hours, as well as the expansion of Wi-Fi calling for use in low coverage areas — but these are standard features supported by all models compatible with iOS 9, and, in the case of the former, have been available on Android systems for a number of years.

Verdict

If these upgrades appear somewhat piecemeal and derivative, then it is probably a sign that you should give this year's release a wide berth. True, 3D Touch is far from useless, but next to Apple's great innovations of years past — personal assistant Siri, the fingerprint authentication system — represents only a minor enhancement to your everyday mobile experience.