iPhone 6S plus, unbox, set up

I got my new iPhone 6S Plus last Friday, September 25 along with most everyone else. I’ve lived with it for days and have been able to take it for an extended spin.

I hope to have a full review of the 6S Plus soon. For now, here are my first thoughts about the phone and the camera.

• Perspective…. I upgraded from my iPhone 5S from two years ago which I loved to use very much. I thought the 5S was a good size and the camera was the best I’d shot with on a mobile device. The color was vibrant and pretty accurate. The light sensitivity and dynamic range were good in many conditions.

• The iPhone 6S Plus is an amazing device! I think it’s the best iPhone released in years. It’s fast. Very fast. Touch ID is improved — faster and more accurate. In fact, everything about the iPhone 6S Plus is noticeably faster than my 5S.

• The new 3D Touch is cool. One day, I’ll remember all the new contextual commands of 3D Touch. I can see if you’re a power-user, this is a great feature. The phone itself is light yet feels solid. I still treat it carefully, but I’m not worried about bending it during normal use or most pocket holstering.

• I bought the larger 6S Plus because of the better camera than the 6S. Apple pulled this crap with the 6 and 6 Plus last year. I was hoping for camera parity across the devices with the S series.

• I’m really glad I went with the larger device. I quickly got used to the 6S Plus’ larger size. It’s a good fit for my larger hands. I immediately fell in love with the larger screen real estate. Photo editing apps that felt cramped now have room to breathe.

• The rear camera is excellent. Worth the upgrade alone. They got the 12 megapixel camera right. Color is good and I’m not experiencing any issues with my camera, such as color cast or hot spots.

• The rear camera is amazingly responsive. It grabs the focus I want faster than my 5S did, even in really poor situations where I wasn’t expecting it to. Nice! Focus isn’t always “instant”, if that’s what you were expecting from the keynote, but it is faster. I do have an issue where the shutter button feels more sensitive to me. Until I get used to it, I’ve been shooting quite a lot of accidental burst shots.

• Color on the rear camera is amazing and noticeably better than my 5S. Reds and yellows look more vibrant and natural. All colors look natural, more rich and full, but not with the oversaturation that the old iPhone 4 had. Color and tones are even more like what I see with my eyes compared to my old 5S.

• Detail, as expected, in the camera is amazing. Photos are sharper and clearer and noticeably show more detail than older 8MP devices.

• Image stabilization must work. I don’t notice it when shooting stills but I’ve taken a lot fewer blurry images with the new phone.

• Image stabilization for the video camera works great. Imagine Vee for Video‘s stabilization on steroids. It works pretty seamlessly in the background with almost no lag from real life to screen. When viewing stabilized video, I did notice vary very rare glitches in the recorded video, but it’s still a huge improvement over shaky-cam.

• Looks to still be a 29mm equivalent focal length with adds a really cool (much of the time) distortion to a photo. There are no anomalies with the glass that I’ve found and none of the fringing that was an issue with the iPhone 4S and 5 devices. It’s a solid unit.

• Dynamic Range. Wow. The dynamic range is significantly better than my old 5S. In comparison shots, the 6S Plus captures a lot more detail with less noise than the 5S.

• I’m pleasantly surprised at how many old photo apps still run on the 6S Plus and support the 12 MP resolution. I was worried that the hardware and the new OS would break some of my older older apps. I’m happy I can still shoot with ClassicPAN.

• Although the front selfie camera has been upgraded to 5MP, photo quality is not as good as the older 5MP cameras on the iPhone 5 and iPad Mini devices. It’s closer in image quality to the last several generations of front cameras. There’s still a lot of noise in the photos, dynamic range is better, but isn’t great, there’s still a lot of noise in the photos (yeah, again), and my front camera has a warm color cast that the rear camera doesn’t. Basically, it’s the Apple front camera with more pixels. It works for what it is.

• How the h**l do you view the touted Live Photos?

Overall, I am delighted with the iPhone 6S Plus. It’s exceeded nearly all of my expectations of the device. It’s a solid, fast device with a great camera. Color is great and my initial concerns about the device were immediately put to rest. If you have a 5S or older, this is a great upgrade. You’re about due anyway. If you have a 6 or 6 Plus, the new camera in the 6S Plus is definitely worth consideration. Definitely one of the best iPhone upgrades I’ve done. From an iPhoneographer’s perspective, this is an outstanding iPhone. Buyer’s remorse? Absolutely zero.

I’ll update this post with photos soon (day job calls). Full review forthcoming.