The Apple iPhone 6s is easily the best phone (read: Internet device with a camera) that I’ve ever owned. It was robust and reliable for the five years I owned it. But thanks to Apple’s planned obsolescence, it had received its last major iOS update. In time, apps I rely on would stop updating, too. Some of them would eventually stop working.
I could have comfortably gone another year with this phone were I not having battery issues. The original battery was justifiably worn out when I replaced it in early in 2020 after four years of service. But before the end of the year, my new battery wasn’t holding a charge all day anymore either. I don’t think that battery was faulty. Rather, I think my phone just strained to keep up. After five years, advances in iOS and apps probably place much heavier demands on the phone, which strain it considerably.
Another new battery would probably have lasted another year, which would have been a cost-effective solution. But Sprint, my carrier, offered me a generous trade-in value if I upgraded to a new iPhone 12. I bit, and now own an iPhone 12 mini. It’s slightly smaller than the 6s. I like it, because I’m no fan of giant phones.
The 6s was the camera I always had with me, and I’ve made thousands of photos with it over the five years I owned it.
The camera on my previous phone, the Apple iPhone 5, was surprisingly good. The 6s’s camera performs much better in low light, which made it a much more useful tool for me. It also has more megapixels (12 vs. 8 for the rear camera, 5 vs. 1.2 for the front camera) and a slightly faster lens (f/2.2 vs. f/2.4).
The 6s’s camera is full of settings and modes, but I only used a couple of them. It has a square photo mode that I used a lot. I sometimes used panorama mode, where you sweep the camera across a scene for an ultra-wide view. Otherwise I used default settings.
For simple sharing, such as in text messages or on Facebook, I used the images straight off the camera. But I liked some images enough that I lightly enhanced them in Photoshop and uploaded them to Flickr. I post-processed all of the images you see here.
I don’t always have a regular camera on me when I come upon a beautiful scene. When that happens I press the 6s right into service. Or maybe I do have one of my good cameras along, but I want to share the photo online right away. Then I shoot the scene twice, including once with the 6s.
Another kind of photo I made with my iPhone 6s is “Look where I am/what I’m doing/what I see right now!” Because I can share these photos right away, I take a lot more of them than I would if I had a regular camera on me at all times.
The 6s is, of course, a fabulous selfie machine.
The 6s was also an easy choice when I needed to quickly document something for this blog.
The Apple iPhone 6s camera has some faults. First, thanks to its rounded edges, the phone is slippery as hell and hard to hold. I dropped this phone more than once while trying to make a photograph with it. My iPhone 5 and my iPhone 12 mini both have flat edges that make the camera easier to grip. Still, any iPhone’s innate thinness makes it harder to grip than even a small, dedicated point-and-shoot digital camera.
Second, the lens is wide. Apple doesn’t list its focal length, but it feels like a 28mm lens on a 35mm camera. I prefer a narrower focal length, such as 35mm or even 50mm. You can zoom in pretty deeply, but it’s digital zoom. The phone interpolates pixels as best it can. The images generally look good on the phone, but at larger sizes the interpolation shows up as mottling. If you click this image and view it full size on Flickr, you’ll see what I mean. I suppose it would make an acceptable 4×6 print.
Finally, even though its low-light performance is improved over the iPhone 5, it’s still limited. But it’s far better than nothing when you want to capture a memory. On the night I went to an Iron Maiden concert I made a few dozen photos with my 6s, but only this and one other photo was usable.
Most phones have good cameras in them today. The Apple iPhone 6s is no exception. It’s lovely to so easily carry such a capable camera. It’s always ready to go.
The Apple iPhone 6s camera served me well for the five years I used it. I always wished its sides were flat and the phone thus easier to hold as a camera, like both my iPhone 5 and now my iPhone 12 mini. Otherwise, I wish this phone could have lasted another 5 years as I was otherwise satisfied with it. I’m sure my new iPhone 12 mini’s camera is better in noticeable ways, and I’m sure I’ll come to appreciate it. But so far this new phone isn’t so much better or exciting than the 6s that I feel its cost is justified.