iPhone Diary: Seven days with the 6S

Visvaksen P | Updated on January 23, 2018


Will Apple’s newest smartphone survive a week in the Technophile fold?

The latest iteration of Apple’s iPhone has finally arrived in India about a month after its international release and with a pricetag that is heftier than anywhere else in the world. The talking points, test results and teardowns are already well known by now courtesy of our American and European colleagues. But how does an iPhone 6S actually fare in regular usage in Indian conditions? Read on to find out.

Day 1

We’ve got out hands on the iPhone and we’re finding it very difficult to get them off it. Any new gadget inspires a certain degree of touchiness, but the new iPhone is exquisite to hold and behold. We found ourselves constantly pulling it out of pocket, either just to eye it once more or caress its beautiful retina display. The iPhone might be a smartphone first, but its foremost quality is that it is an object of envy. And the 6S with its elegant and understated design, checks all the boxes in that department.

Aside from fondling the phone at every opportunity, we also installed all our most commonly used apps and spent some time exploring new apps. Apple News looks very promising. So promising, in fact that we’ve held off on installing any other news app for the moment. Porting our contacts and email from Google’s cloud onto Apple’s device proves to be a largely painless task, but incompatibilities abound in other aspects such as documents and notes storage. In the end, we found an inelegant but effective solution that involves using a combination of Google services and iCloud.

Day 2

We’re trying hard to get used to the looks we keep getting whenever we fish out our iPhone in public. Strangers on the train stare for several seconds longer than they strictly should and acquaintances constantly want to have a go at it. Anyone who has ever owned an iPhone knows that an unavoidable part of the experience involves having to constantly explain what makes it so special, while people politely try to make you look like a fool for having spent a small fortune on a cell phone.

The design and build quality elicited the customary oohs and aahs, but the 3D-touch enabled peeking and popping feature was roundly dismissed as a gimmick by most of these observers. Many of them also insisted on snapping selfies, and were delighted with the results that the new flash technology built in to the display provided.

Day 3

We’ve been involved in several lengthy commutes today and most of the time was spent reading on the iPhone. Apple News has no localisation yet, so we’re having to use it with America as our preferred region. Besides the lack of region-specific content, the experience is top-notch. It definitely needs more content sources and more controls over what content gets displayed but that will happen over time.

If you are prone to attention deficit behaviour, the new deep-linking feature will definitely exacerbate those tendencies by making it a breeze to switch between apps.

Today has also involved a lot of instant messaging and we missed the swipe to type keyboard that is available for default on Android. Thankfully, Apple has not blocked third party apps from replicating the functionality.

Day 4

We realised we hadn’t put the much touted camera on the iPhone 6S to use yet and decided this would be the day to rectify that. We set off on a long drive down the most scenic road in our vicinity in order to give the 12 MP iSight Camera some pretty sights to capture.

The iPhone has always been great at capturing well-lit scenery and the 6S did not disappoint. Shutter response time has to be among the quickest available on any smartphone. In low light, it shows its limits but still performs admirably well. The 6S Plus has Optical Image Stabilisation which will push those limits a little further, but Apple omitting the feature from the 6S makes little sense considering its premium price point.

We shot some 4K footage of the scenery whizzing by out of the car window. The quality was impressive, but what impressed us even further was the iPhone’s ability to edit this footage in the pre-loaded iMovie app without so much as a stutter when some of our desktops have struggled to achieve the same feat.

The Live Photos feature got turned off half way through the day after we noticed multiple shots in the library that either featured footage of someone’s crotch or the ground. But the ideal use case for this feature presented itself when we returned home and got a couple of toddlers to pose for us. New parents will fall in love with the iPhone’s ability to capture the constantly changing expressions of babies who cannot sit still for a second. For the rest of us, it feels a bit like fluff.

Day 5

A whole work week in, we finally feel that we can make a confident assessment of the iPhone’s battery. We began the previous four days with full charge and it didn’t make it through to the night even once. Our usage is on the heavier side of course, consisting of near-constant texting, surfing and news reading, occasional gaming and music playback and at least one lengthy spell of gaming with 4G always on and WiFi supporting it whenever possible.

However, today we’d forgotten to juice up the phone overnight and as a result were forced to try and rein in our power consumption. We turned off location services, and restricted background data transfer to only the most essential apps. These cutbacks made a huge difference. To our surprise, despite beginning the day with around 65 per cent charge, we made it back home in the evening with our iPhone still on– albeit on low power mode.

We were also pleasantly surprised to discover that Apple’s low power mode doesn’t turn the phone into a laggy mess like most Android phones with Battery Saver on.

Day 6

The initial glow of the iPhone has worn off and the chinks in its halo are starting to become more visible.

Our biggest gripe is probably that the 6S is noticeably and consistently worse at maintaining data connectivity than our previous daily driver, the Moto G3. It failed to pick up Airtel’s 4G signal in a number of locations where we had previously used 4G and even occasionally relegated us to EDGE speeds. It also shifts between the different connectivity options a lot more than any other phone we’ve used recently, which cannot be good for the battery.

Siri is still hugely inferior to Google Now, although its recognition of Indian accents has improved a lot.

And if it wasn’t for people constantly asking us to show them how it works, we’d probably have completely forgotten about the existence of 3D Touch. The technology behind it is certainly impressive, but it needs more compelling use cases.

Day 7

Today is our final day with the iPhone for the purposes of this review. Apple has generously granted us much longer to test the device, so it could very well continue to be our primary smartphone.

The 6S isn’t without its drawbacks. The data connectivity issues and less than stellar battery are very real concerns. But it is also one of the best-built phones on the market, performs like a champion and has the software features to match. The camera might no longer be leagues ahead of its competitors, but it is still in the top drawer. Also, like most Apple devices before it, it oozes class.

It’s done enough to remain in our hands for another week at the very least.

Published on October 28, 2015

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