Up until a week ago, my main carry phone was an iPhone 6. I replaced it with an iPhone 6s Plus, which arrived on launch day, but, due to some work travel, I have only had it since Sunday, for five days. Here are some high level observations from those five days of using this new device.
Overall, I’m quite pleased with the new device itself, especially the obvious hardware improvements. Having said that, and I have had every iPhone to date, this was the least smooth transition from one phone to another on the software side. I am still working on getting my new phone to the place my old phone already was. This is not intended to be a comprehensive review, I don’t have the patience or time these days to do that.
This phone feels ridiculously fast, faster than my iPad Air 2 even.
The battery life seems a little worse than my couple of months old iPhone 6 Plus.
My initial observation was that this phone is heavier than the existing iPhone 6 Plus, but still comfortable to me for extended use and carry. I purchased an Apple silicone case, I have been very happy with the 2014 silicone case that my work iPhone 6 Plus is in. I am a little disappointed in the 2015 silicone case, it’s got a smoother finish, and feels less grippy in your hand. As a result, I feel the phone slipping in my hand a little when I am not expecting it. I may end up getting another case that has a better tactile feel to it.
I’m a huge fan of Touch ID, and it’s significantly faster with the new phone for both Apple Pay and unlocking the device. It’s so fast, in fact, that I am sometimes accidentally unlocking the device when I wanted to wake the phone up to see the time.
3D Touch seems to have a ton of potential. It turns out that I am a “hard presser” to begin with, and so my long touches are often being interpreted as a 3D Touch. Once I understood the pressure differential, mainly while I was re-organizing my home screen, things locked into place, and now I have the hang of it. It will take even longer for me to get into the routine of thinking to use it.
The camera is noticeably better, and was one of my main reasons for upgrading the phone. Focus is faster, and low light photos look better to me. I am not sure that I am that enchanted with Live Photos, but that may just be that I haven’t taken many yet. Since a lot of what I do with my pictures is sharing via Instagram and Facebook, I am not sure I will use Live Photos much until they are supported on those platforms.
So now a few words about the transition from my iPhone 6 to this new phone, which has not been a good experience. First, I was a part of the iOS 9 public beta this Summer. Not the developer releases, but the public beta. I did this because I thought it would mean a smoother landing when everything came out this fall. I was wrong. They rolled the people in the iOS 9 public beta right onto 9.1. Once you have backed up on 9.1, you can’t restore onto 9. So I had to start with my last good backup from earlier this Summer. I understand what running a beta means, that there may be sharp edges. I think someone at Apple should have thought through the customer experience before just rolling everyone on to 9.1.
The transition between phones for Watch is terrible. You have to un-pair your watch from the phone, deleting everything off the watch, then re-pair it with your new phone, finally restoring from whatever your last backup was, and losing some data pretty much no matter what you do. So much room for improvement here.
Finally, I have relied on the Health app and Activity app as my primary activity and fitness trackers for the last few months. Shame on me for not looking into this more, but that data does not get backed up via iCloud backup. You can back it up by doing an encrypted iTunes backup, which I will now be forced to switch to. There is a way to migrate this data using two third party apps, and I am going to spend the time to try and do that this weekend. Very disappointing from a user experience standpoint though, seems like they are making the customer do too much work. I wouldn’t expect to have to manually migrate this data myself.
Update: It seems that Health and Activity data is in the iCloud backup after all, but some folks, myself included, are having issues with getting it to the new devices.