The iPhone 6S is Apple's most modest 'S' upgrade yet

The iPhone 6S is the best phone on the planet right now. But in day-to-day use, it’s not much different than its predecessor, last year’s iPhone 6.

In fact, it might be the most mild “S” year yet.

If you don’t know what I mean by an “S” year, Apple’s schedule for new iPhone launches is like clockwork: New phones arrive each fall, but every other year it’s only an “S” upgrade instead of a completely redesigned phone. In the “S” years, the iPhones look identical to their predecessors, but they come with better, faster, more efficient components, and offer new innovations you haven’t seen before.

Take a look at all the past “S” years. It’s pretty clear that the iPhone 6S is Apple’s most modest iPhone “S” year yet.

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The iPhone 4S from 2010 was the first iPhone with an 8-megapixel rear shooter capable of filming 1080p videos. Learning from its predecessor, it featured an improved antenna design that dropped fewer calls and allowed for international roaming on GSM networks. And, of course, it was the first iPhone with Siri, Apple's personal assistant that could help you control your phone with your voice in a natural-sounding way.

This year's iPhone 6S is all about the camera. It's the first Apple smartphone to feature a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera, but selfies also look better thanks to 'Retina Flash,' where your screen gets 3X brighter in an instant to illuminate your shot. You can also now take 'Live Photos,' which is a setting that allows you to capture moments before and after each picture. It's also the first iPhone with 3D Touch, which lets you access new menu options by pushing into phone's screen.

Steve Kovach/Tech Insider

Though Apple introduced a ton of features for the iPhone 6S, very few of them are life-changing -- 3D Touch has a lot of potential, but in its infancy, it shows more potential than actual utility. In comparison to the changes in previous years, there's just no competition. The introduction of video recording in the iPhone 3GS was monumental: video apps are still among the most popular in the App Store. Siri on the iPhone 4S changed the way we interact with our phones. And Touch ID, as well as the camera improvements, altered expectations for what a premium smartphone should offer, namely in the way of security and efficiency. The iPhone 6S is just as incredible as its predecessor, but the extent to which its new features change how you use your phone daily is not as significant as previous 'S' years.


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