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September 22, 2015

It's arrived! All you need to know about the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus

It's the moment we've all been waiting for – on September 9th, Apple finally unveiled the iPhone 6s and its bigger brother, the 6s Plus, at a packed launch event in San Francisco. The big reveal put an end to months of rumours and speculation – so what do we now know for sure about Apple's shiny new handsets?

Availability and Prices

First of all, the 6s and 6s Plus will be available in the UK on September 25th – not the 18th, as German site Macerkopf had suggested. This means you can pre-order a SIM-free 6s right now via Apple's online store, or through major mobile carriers if you're going on a contract.

If you're buying it SIM-free, the 6s costs £539 for the 16GB version, £619 for 64GB or £699 for 128GB. The heftier 6S Plus starts at £619 for 16GB, £699 for 64GB or £789 for 128GB. Colour options for both are Gold, Silver, Space Gray and an all-new Rose Gold (not pink!).

There are also a few special deals floating around for contract customers who want to pre-order: O2's Recycle programme will let you cash in your old phone for the new iPhone, while Three is offering a 4G service with the 6s at no additional cost. EE, meanwhile, says the 6s will come with LTE-advanced and Wi-Fi Calling.

The Juicy Details

But what about the phones themselves? Well, it turns out the biggest rumours were right: the 6s and 6s Plus do indeed pack Force Touch (now rebranded as 3D Touch), Apple's innovative, pressure-sensitive touch sensors that should open up a whole new world of options for game and app developers.

Thanks to this technology, the 6s can distinguish between hard and soft presses of the screen and will react accordingly depending on what's being pressed. For example, a soft press gives you a preview of an email in your inbox, while a hard press opens it.

This might sound minor, but when you feel it working under your fingers, it's something of a game-changer: the new handsets feel like they're reading your mind, making navigation a smoother, slicker experience than ever before.

The other widely-expected upgrade, a 12-megapixel camera, also came through just as anticipated. It's capable of capturing 4K video, boasts better auto-focus, and incorporates a new technology called "deep trench isolation" which enhances colour accuracy. There's also a 5MP front-facing camera with in-built flash.

A 12MP camera still lags behind some competitors – the Samsung Galaxy S6 has 16MP, for example – but it's more than enough for most people, and represents a long-awaited boost to the iPhone's camera capability.

Most of the predictions made about the 6s' innards also turned out to be correct. The handset has 2GB of RAM, which puts its multitasking capabilities on a par with the iPad Air 2, and the chipset is the 64-bit A9 with an embedded M9 motion coprocessor. (If that all sounds a bit technical, it basically means it's faster and better than the iPhone 6). The whole thing is protected by 7000 Series aluminium, a stronger material that should help to allay any fears of another Bendgate.


Maybe Next Time?

Of course, the rumour mill can't get it right all the time, and quite a few of the wilder guesses were just that. Suggestions that Apple would shake up the carrier market by pre-installing an Apple SIM on the 6s – as it did with the iPad Air 2 – turned out to be pure fantasy. Hopes of a Macbook-style battery turned out to be false as well, although early indications suggest the 6s' battery is a big improvement on the last model. And as for those unsightly plastic strips – we're sorry to say they're still there.

While the 6s is, as expected, more of an incremental upgrade to the iPhone 6 than a whole new phone, there's plenty to get excited about here. And if you've been on the lookout for a new brand phablet, the 6s Plus, with its 4.4-inch screen, could be just what you need.

It's hitting the shops in just over a week – will you be making the upgrade?