Apple took advantage of the upcoming announcement of its future iPhone 12 to launch the new version of its mobile operating system, iOS 14. At the bottom of the list of compatible terminals we find a “dinosaur” of smartphones: theiPhone 6S Plus. With its Touch ID button and its jack, the one that was a flagship in its time seems a far cry from “modern” iPhones. And a little technologically dropped: a single camera module, no FaceID, a battery that is far from being as thick as those of current mobile terminals, an A9 processor engraved between 16 nm and 14 nm (the next generation will be engraved in 5 nm!), No OLED screen, etc.
So, is our iPhone 6S Plus really dumped? Well, despite some limitations, not at all. Better: as long as the battery is new, the terminal still offers an excellent user experience. And arises as a champion of lifespan.
Prerequisite: from a new battery
Before we jump into the iOS 14 review on our old 128GB iPhone 6S Plus – Apple’s Rolls at the time – we had the battery changed. Five years later, the original one had necessarily aged a little. And the “throttling” stories, that is to say the decrease in device performance aimed at preserving endurance general had remained in our heads.
In order to leave “clean”, we went incognito to have the battery changed in an Apple Store. Direction the St Germain market in Paris, one of the closest to the editorial staff. The choice to go through an official Apple store is neither that of the portfolio, nor that of the quality, but only an editorial constraint: it is impossible to leave in doubt as to the quality / provenance of the parts for this article. The iPhone 6S Plus “2020 edition” had to be as close as possible to the original.
The Apple Store experience
The appointment is made on a Friday for the following Monday at 10:40 am. A short deadline and a very precise schedule. And for good reason: whether you buy or come to have it repaired, you must now make an appointment to go to “Tim Cook”.
Impeccable hospitality and hygiene, smiling and friendly staff, the American school is good. Arrived at 10:40 am and taken care of less than 5 minutes later, we are outside at 10:54 am with an appointment given at 11:35 am to collect the animal.
Back at the scheduled time, the terminal is not ready and you have to wait outside “ten minutes, sorry for the wait”, apologize at Apple. Small, unimportant mess – I went to buy some socks if you are interested.
At 11:50 am, the device is ready. Three minutes of waiting in front of a table (where, Ô surprise, a Mac and an iPad are in self-service) and an employee brings back the refreshed terminal. The restitution of the device is, again, impeccable, the precious protected in a small protective paper cover. We’re out at 11:59 a.m.
The price of the intervention? 55 euros. A sum for some, a straw compared to the purchase of a new terminal. Which now displays 100% battery health. Ready to be evaluated again, five years after its release, without any doubt as to the quality of its components.
iOS 14 does not restrict performance (far from it)
In the past, Apple has been suspected of making old devices “row” under new versions of iOS. Whether it is real optimization problems, generations of processors effectively dropped or a proven desire to buy the new model, the trade secrets surrounding the code of iOS make it impossible to say anything. is. The only fact that is certain is that Apple has admitted to reducing the performance of some devices to conserve battery power – before backpedaling.
But in 2020, the other thing that is certain is that Apple has worked incredibly well and that iOS 14 is going cream on a device that is 5 years old. From switching on – 30 seconds with the watch in hand, entering the access code included – to browsing the interface, the terminal is responsive. And now supports, iOS 14 requires, widgets and other “Library of apps”. The smartphone is not as swift as the more modern terminals, but “Plans” is sufficiently fluid, in 2D mode as with 3D models of buildings. As for the launch of the App Store, it is almost immediate and navigation in the system menus is impeccable.
Showing no slowness in navigation through the interface, the iPhone 6S is therefore fully operational with Apple’s new mobile operating system. But the big (good) surprise comes from the games. So the car racing game ” Asphalt 9: Legends ”, A rather nice and edgy 3D title released in 2018 works perfectly. Same for me ” Legend of Grimrock “And” Knights of the Old Republic », Two 3D role-playing games also in 3D (the first of the dungeon crawler type, the second more focused on dialogues). Yes, in 2020 you can play 3D games, even recent ones, with your “old” iPhone 6S.
Battery endurance remains its weak point
Even with a new battery, our iPhone 6S Plus 128 GB with its modern OS does not hold the day of heavy use. Besides the fact that the thousand and one improvements of the OS (such as widgets, updating apps in the background, etc.) consume a lot of energy, this generation of iPhone has never been very enduring due to the low capacity of the battery. Apple didn’t make its iPhone 11 Pro bigger for nothing!
But as long as you carry charger or external battery (as in the past), your experience will be exactly the same as in 2015. And you will still feel the same jealousy when faced with the fast charging of Android devices.
The camera module has aged, but it does the job
In the world of smartphones, the photographic progress of the last five years has been legion and major: larger, more sensitive and more defined sensors, faster autofocus systems, several integrated camera modules, etc. With its unique camera module, the iPhone 6S Plus is a bit of a dinosaur, even though Google has shown us that you can do great things with just one sensor – see our photo test of the Pixel 4a.
But in 2015, Apple’s iPhone 6S was ahead. Also, if the AF is no longer at the top of the game and the ultra wide-angle module or the ability to zoom may be missing, the terminal still does its job very well. The colors are always warm and pleasant, and as long as you are in broad daylight, the shots are beautiful and actionable. In low light, on the other hand, that’s a whole different story!
The video, however, is well dated: the cropping is important, the electronic stabilization very average, the grain quite present and the definition limited to Full HD. What a contrast to the 8K terminals of 2020!
The fundamentals are there
In addition to the good general performances, the compatibility with the games or the still acceptable photo part, it should also be added that the “modern” functions are fully fulfilled. Apple Pay is in the game, as is the video recording of the screen. The camera module is good enough to act as a QRcode reader and accessories such as Airpods Pro and others Powerbeats Pro are natively supported by iOS 14.
So yes, the iPhone 6S (Plus or not) is not as fast as its little brothers who are more complete (cameras, FaceID), more enduring, more powerful and better equipped (brighter OLED panels, more resistant windows, charging wireless, etc.). But seeing that a 2015 device is still worth it in 2020 and will still benefit from security updates throughout the lifetime of iOS 14 requires us to take our hats off to Apple. Yes, we hope it will also benefit from iOS 15. No, we don’t really believe it. But one thing is certain: this software tracking is a benchmark in the smartphone industry. Provided that the trend is even stronger.
And long live the iPhone 6S!