Starting today, you can buy an iPhone 6S or 6S Plus. When you’ll get it, however, may be another story. (Thanks,
Obama Pope Francis.) When you get it, you’ll probably do the exact same thing we did when we finally got our hands on a new Rose Gold 6S: say “damn, that’s pink.” Then, you’ll poke at a couple of 3D Touch-enabled icons, and then of course, you’ll take some pictures.
Apple’s had the best smartphone camera in the biz for years, but it has some real competition now: The Samsung Galaxy S6, the LG G4, and a couple of other high-end Android devices take killer pictures too. We’ve only had this phone for a few hours, but here’s our first thought: Apple hasn’t exactly crushed the competition to a bloody pixelated pulp, but it’s definitely leveled up.
The biggest improvement doesn’t really jump out at you until you zoom in—or even better, dump your photos onto Facebook or your computer. The photos from the 6S are so much sharper, so much more clear in their details, that it’s honestly kind of insane. The new 12-megapixel sensor was designed specifically for this purpose, of course: to provide more detail, which means more room for cropping and editing. In a weird way, the iPhone’s becoming a professional-level photography tool, and the 6S seems to go a long way toward giving pros the kind of access and raw data they want.
In general, though, the experience of shooting on the new 12-megapixel sensor of the 6S doesn’t feel dramatically different from last year’s model. It feels a little faster, but not much. The HDR mode works okay, but still stumbles when you have a half-dark, half-bright photo. Pictures are still incredibly color-accurate, occasionally to a fault—Apple wants you to see the world exactly as dark as it is, even if that means you can’t see anything in your photo. In the dark, every photo’s a little brighter, a little less noisy than before. But it’s still, well, a smartphone camera. Which means it sucks at night. But dusk looks beautiful.
Shooting Live Photos is pretty simple, since all it does is shoot a second and a half of video before and after you hit the shutter. It’s neat, but if you’re shooting a landscape or some other immobile object, it’s also pointless. But for most photos, in most relatively easy situations, it’s a remarkably good camera. Oh, and the front-facing selfie cam? It’s a completely different ballgame, thanks to the super-bright screen flash that makes you actually visible for a change.
We’ve only just begun testing the new iPhone (there’s a club for people who get early access, and we ain’t in it!), but if you’re considering getting in line or hopping onto Apple.com today, take a look at the photos above first. These are un-retouched, hold-it-and-shoot-it photos from our first hours with the device. None of them move, yet, but maybe someday we’ll all be able to see these weird Live Photos I have on my phone. If you want to see even more photos, even bigger, head on over to Flickr. And then come back, because we’ll have a complete review soon.Go Back to Top. Skip To: Start of Article.