iPhone 6S after 5 years: A living legend

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Apple is known for long-term software support for older devices, and if they continue to update an iPhone for five years, the reason must be that people are still using it.

You might say, “But who’s interested in iPhone 6S in 2021 !? Well, if you like the long-term performance of your new iPhone 11 or 12, the chances are iPhone 6S case study can give you an insight into the future.

So let’s start with this mini super lengthy review and check out how well the iPhone 6S holds up almost six years after it was released back in September 2015.


To address the elephant in space – yes, the iPhone 6S runs on the latest version of iOS 14.5.1 from today. It’s exactly the same as iPhone 12 Pro Max and all other iPhones released after iPhone 6. Remember that some iPhone 12 features will not be available on iPhone 6S – some for hardware reasons (iPhone 6S does not have Face ID, U1 chip or LiDAR), and others because Apple thought they simply could not or should not be available on older iPhones (Night Mode) .

So the five-year promise of software support is in check, as it always has been the last few years.

Compared to the iPhone 12, which I had a chance to use for about a month, and The iPhone 8, which I still use daily (mainly due to the compact form factor compared to my big Android phone), runs the iPhone 6S well! Yes, it is significantly less snappy than all the above phones but it can be expected.

Look & feel

This is strictly subjective. What is not subjective, however, is the fact that the iPhone 6S still feels extremely premium even in 2021. It does not have the heavy reassuring feel of modern flagships, but is not all about using a compact phone to be .. light and compact?

6S is beautifully designed. It does not bend like the iPhone 6, and it is without a doubt the most popular iPhone design to date. Ironically, it’s thanks to the fact that it adopted the same design as its predecessor, which sold 222 million units, making it the 3rd best-selling mobile phone ever!

The design category gets more than one passport. I’m sure some people do not mind seeing an iPhone 13 Mini with an aluminum back, like the one on the 6S… dreams.


Here the lines are blurred. The iPhone 6S is still impressively usable considering its age compared to some Android phones that lack software support. Although it runs on 2021 software and looks and feels modern (with the exception of the framework), the performance is certainly not the same as it was on older versions of the software (even compared to iOS 13).

The 6S runs on the A9 Dual-core 1.84 GHz processor, which does not even come close to the current A14 in the iPhone 12. According to benchmarks, it is about four times slower, and this is about true when considering using the real world .

The 6S still performs the daily tasks just fine, but that’s when you start jumping between more demanding apps, when the phone starts to slow down and warm up. In other words, light users will be just fine. Listening to music, surfing the web and using apps for social media is incredibly well done on an iPhone 6S considering its age.


Excellent. You can not ask for more from a five year old phone. I shot entire YouTube videos that continued to get thousands of views on the iPhone 6S & SE – last year! If you give them lots of light, you would be shocked to see how well they perform.

The colors are the faith of life – even more accurate than modern iPhones that tend to shoot images ready for social media. 4K video is brilliant, albeit a little shaky.

The two major drawbacks here are the lack of Night Mode and Smart HDR. While the first one you have to live with, the latter is somewhat achievable by manually selecting HDR before taking a picture. This can make a huge difference for scenes where auto HDR remains passive when it should not.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be done for videos – there is no HDR switch. So if the lighting is not stable and there are shadows and highlights in your scene, the video will either be too dark or too light (especially when panning).

Overall, the camera gets a positive response, and that would have been impressive even for a four-year-old phone. Oh, the front camera is a grainy mess unless you have all the lighting in the world.


It will not be a good part of the review for the iPhone 6S, and there are so many reasons for it.

From the start, the small 1715 mAh battery is hardly acceptable in today’s world of heavy smartphone use. According to these statistics from Elite Content Marketing, people in the US spend a lot more time on their phones than they did in 2014 – just before the iPhone 6S was released.

That’s why Apple can’t get away with selling a phone with such a small bang … Oh, wait (iPhone SE 2020) … The point is – we need a phone with a bigger battery to go through our day, and the 6S is definitely not that phone, especially if you are not an easy user. Then we have the significantly less energy efficient processor (14 nm), which draws much more power than the 5 nm chip found on modern flagships.

Phones are getting older and so are their batteries, but that may not be a factor for my particular testing because the battery in my iPhone 6S is new with 100% capacity. Even this does not seem to save it. It often dies before it reaches 2 hours of screen-on-time.


As for the iPhone 6S – it’s surprisingly usable even almost six years after it first came out. Of course, the battery may need to be replaced (if this has not already been done), and it may lack some 2021 features such as a high refresh rate monitor, multiple cameras, or a night mode.

However, it still takes decent videos and photos (in the right lighting); it runs on the latest version of iOS and gets things done. Note that the phone was much faster on iOS 13, but what it does on iOS 14 is still very impressive.

Oh! Touch ID is a boon in times of face masks. Also – it’s just more convenient even if your face is not covered. You can unlock your phone without looking at it while sitting on your desk or bed.

The future of the iPhone

But! Why am I doing this experiment? First of all, I happened to have the iPhone 6S lying around.

But more importantly – because 6S can teach us a lesson about current and future iPhones. It was among the fastest, if not the fastest phones when it was launched; the screen was excellent; the battery can be used and the camera was years ahead of Android phones in video quality.

Things have changed. Manufacturers like Samsung, Xiaomi, and Huawei, to name a few, delivers some excellent hardware features. Even iPhones, which are usually more conventional, have evolved into feature cutting –edge technically as multiple camera sensors, HDR video and sensor-shift image stabilization.

Will the iPhone 12 be a better phone than the iPhone 6S after five years? Yes and no. First, its processor is incredibly capable and pushes the necessary power constraints on a smartphone.

The camera is a category that is getting better every year. Technologies like the liquid lens in Xiaomis Mi Mix Fold and progressive technology for space efficiency in phones are expected to hit phones soon.

I will not be surprised if we return to single cameras on flagship phones – one that can do it all with multiple focal lengths, great stabilization; and no need for night mode thanks to a 1-inch camera sensor, which we saw in Panasonic CM1 years ago, and about the recently announced Sharp Aquos R6.

Battery technology is also expected to take a monumental leap thanks to newly discovered technology that is expected to dramatically improve your phone’s endurance. This one is rumored to be coming to smartphones for a while and we hope it doesn’t take longer than a year before it debuts.

Screens are said to move towards Micro-LED instead OLED, which will make them brighter and even more reliable.

However, another important thing to consider is the form factor. The iPhone 12 looks like a chocolate bar just like the iPhone 6S /6S Plus, but companies like Huawei, Samsung and Xiaomi have shown us that foldable phones might be the next big thing. This is unlikely to happen in the next 2-3 years, but it may become the norm further down.

Their collapsible units are getting better and more affordable every two years. It’s funny to imagine that such an advanced device as the iPhone 12 might feel like an irrelevant anachronism, even in less than five years. Apple is expected to enter the foldable phone market in the next two years, but for now it’s just a rumor.

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