With the world abuzz about the soon-to-be-released iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro, I thought that it would be prudent to write an article about iPhones (something I haven't done since I compared iPhones and Androids several years ago).
In particular, I want to take a look at what it's like to use an "old" iPhone like the 6S Plus in 2019, since it's what I and many other people currently use, despite multiple generations of iPhones separating it from the devices being released on September 20th.
The short answer is this: the 6S Plus is still pretty good. However, it's starting to become just bad enough to where I'm considering upgrading to the iPhone 11. With all that said, let's jump right into talking about the pros and cons of owning an iPhone 6S Plus in 2019.
The 6S Plus has maintained relevancy in 2019 thanks in large part to how fast it was at release. Indeed, way back in 2015, its A9 processor was hyped by Apple and lauded by reviewers. This is primarily because the two iPhones preceding the 6S had plateaued in terms of speed, with both sporting processors of similar strength. The A9 in the 6S changed that by offering nearly double the speed of its predecessor, the A8, which itself was essentially a slightly overclocked and more power efficient A7.
I remember experiencing how large of a transition this was firsthand. I owned an iPhone 6 in 2015, and quite clearly remember the dismay I felt upon seeing my friend's iPhone 6S speed through iOS 9 in ways that my device would never be capable of. While the iPhone 6 was a joy to use on iOS 8, it was limited by its relative lack of processing power once it made the jump to iOS 9. This only kept getting worse with each iOS release, which is probably why you'd be hard-pressed to find an iPhone 6 in the wild today.
If the iPhone 6 was underpowered for 2014, then the 6S was overpowered for 2015. And I think that that is why so many people continue to use the phone today, including myself. For most everyday tasks, the 6S continues to excel. iOS 12 runs pretty smoothly on it, and apps by and large run without issue.
Part of this likely has to do with the 6S being roughly as powerful as the iPhone 7. While the A10 in the 7 is indeed a four core processor, only two are ever used at one time—with the two main cores being more or less equal to the ones in the 6S. I know that technically the A10 is stronger than the A9, but in terms of daily use I could barely tell the difference between the iPhone 7 (which I owned for a year prior to the 6S Plus) and its predecessor.
And so, in effect, this means that the 6S acts more like a phone that is 3 years out of date rather than 4 years out of date, which can make a big difference when it comes to smartphone performance.
But all that said, I do think that the 6S Plus is beginning to show its age. Mine still functions admirably and generally makes it through the whole day thanks to a battery swap in late 2018, but it's definitely not the speedster it used to be in 2015.
This is most evident when trying to switch apps quickly, or when using more resource-intensive apps like YouTube. The 6S Plus struggles to switch from playing videos to using another app. Further, trying to navigate through the YouTube app in general is a chore. Everything hitches, and it's an absolute pain to use while on the go due to how unresponsive it is.
Another area where the 6S Plus' performance falls off a cliff is when using Apple Maps or Google Maps to provide directions while driving. If you try to use the phone in any manner while it is providing navigational directions, prepare to experience slowdowns, hitches, and overheating. The phone still gets you from point A to point B, but the quality of that experience has definitely taken a hit in recent years.
All of this is to say that, while everything still works on the 6S Plus, it's no longer buttery smooth, at least to the extent that we have come to expect from iOS devices.
Overall though, I would still recommend the 6S Plus to people who want to give iOS a try, and aren't too picky about performance. While the phone isn't going to respond instantly to all of your commands in the same way that an iPhone 11 might, it still does everything you'd expect of a smartphone in 2019. You can still check your e-mails, browse the web, scroll through Reddit, check social media, pay your bills, and play graphically intensive games. It'll all just be a slower and less cohesive experience than if you had the newer iPhones.
This brings us to the obvious question: do I think it's worth it for 6S owners to upgrade to the iPhone 11? Yes, I do. However, I also think you'd be more than justified in waiting another year if you are happy with your device. The 6S is getting iOS 13, and while it will surely run it slower than the other iPhones still supported by Apple, it'll still work. And I know that that's really all that matters to many people at the end of the day.
To close, the 6S Plus is still a decent smartphone in 2019. If you are planning on getting it in the near future, you'll enjoy a beautiful 1080p 5.5" screen, a headphone jack, second generation Touch ID, a timeless design, and an A9 processor that is still respectable by today's standards.
Even in an age of Face ID, notches, and blazing fast A13 processors, the 6S still represents a pretty good value for those who don't need to be on the bleeding edge of technology. If there's one thing we can appreciate about Apple, it's that their smartphones are now, generally speaking, designed to last several years. Hopefully this means that those of you planning to upgrade from the 6S to the 11 will be able to enjoy your new device for as long as you enjoyed your old one.
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