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Apple iPhone 6s vs the best of Android: who’s winning?

How do Apple’s latest phones, the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus stack up against the very best Android mobiles like the Xperia X and Galaxy S7?

Deja-vu design

The iPhone 6s looks no different to last year’s iPhone 6 – same design, same size screen, yada yada – except now it comes in a pinky ‘Rose Gold’ model.

Of course, many Android manufacturers can be accused of the same creative lethargy, with the likes of Sony and HTC sticking closely to their existing smartphone designs for the last few of years. But others like Samsung have refreshed their phones, honing them into gorgeous slabs of glass and metal, and the sheer variety of Android handsets means that you can always find a phone that fits your own personal style.

The recently announced iPhone 6S retains the same look as last year's model.

Hell, some Android handsets even allow you to change up the look and feel whenever you want, like the Moto Z, with its interchangeable wooden backplates, and a fair few others, such as the likes of Sony’s Xperia range even boast water resistance for extra durability.

Same old grumbles

Then there’s the usual Apple heartache that feels like a slap in the face every time the Cupertino company launches a new iPhone; storage. Once more the cheapest model is lumbered with only 16GB of internal space, which is a serious pain in the arse when you’re trying to update to the next release of iOS or if you plan on shooting 4K video, one of the 6s’ key features.

And is there expandable storage? Is there bollocks.

Apple have stuck to their policy of no expandable storage with the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus.

Thankfully, with the reintroduction of the feature with the Galaxy S7 family, most top tier Android phones do retain microSD memory card slots, but there are recent releases – such as the OnePlus 3 – that share in the 6s’ paltry internal storage abilities. In such cases, it’s just as well those Android upgrades aren’t comparatively massive space hogs.

Even more deja-vu

Then there’s Apple’s apparent ability to nick ideas from other manufacturers and pass them off as their own. Bypassing the iPad Pro‘s foldy-out keyboard, which we most definitely have seen elsewhere, Apple also basically stole HTC’s Zoe mode which proved to be not-much-of-a-hit on the HTC One M7 and beyond, for its new ‘Live Photos’ feature.

The new Live Photos feature is similar to HTC's Zoe mode.

Live Photos basically takes lots of quick-succession snaps when you shoot a photo, which you can then play back as a very short video using 3D Touch. It’s completely pointless and we can’t imagine it being used any more on iPhone compared with the One M7 – or the Lumia phones, which also had a similar mode, not to mention they just take up space over regular photos, the last thing you’d want a native iOS feature to do on a iPhone.

Read next: 6 things we hate about the new iPhone 6s/6s Plus

But damn, son, the iPhone 6s is nice

Right, enough griping. Speaking of Apple’s 3D Touch, this stand-out feature really does look like a marvellous new addition to the iPhone family, one which should revolutionise the way we navigate through the 6s and its successors. You can jump straight into an app’s specific feature direct from the home screen – just jab the app’s icon a little harder than normal and select the feature from a drop-down menu.

So for instance, you can 3D Touch the phone app and to immediately call one of your favourite contacts. And 3D Touch also works inside apps – so for instance, 3D Touch a location in Maps and you can navigate there from your current location or multitask between running apps but 3D Touching from the edge of the screen.

3D Touch is a marvellous addition to the iPhone family.

A handful of Android phones currently offer similar experiences, like the Huawei Mate S, Huawei P9 Plus and ZTE Axon Mini, but they’re pale imitations of Apple’s attempt and are tied to each device’s specific Android launcher, 3D Touch is will work across all future iOS devices that sport the necessary hardware and who knows, Apple might bring the technology to future iPads and MacBook trackpads too.

Read next: Five actual uses for Apple’s 3D Touch and Apple 3D Touch vs Huawei Press Touch vs ZTE Force Touch

Solid optics

Then there’s Apple’s newest 12-megapixel camera, which at launch seemed to match the very best Android had to offer (phones like the Galaxy S7 have arguably leveled the playing field since then, but it’s still a phenomenal shooter). Not only are photos gorgeously sharp, with the ability to shoot 4K video, but the company’s camera interface is also pleasingly simple to use, like the Moto G4‘s and many of the best Android snappers currently available.

Some Android fans may scoff at the iPhone 6s’ “low-res” screen, which still features a piddling 326 pixels-per-inch. Compared with the 500-600 pixels-per-inch of practically every Android flagship, that seems almost archaic, until you actually see the 6s’ screen. Sure, it doesn’t have insanely tiny pixels, but it’s still perfectly sharp for enjoying HD movies, playing games and so on. Colours really stand out, bold but with realistic hues and exceptional viewing angles.

The iPhone 6S screen stands up to the best that Android has to offer.
In pretty much every department, the iPhone 6s stands up tall against the Android competition, especially now that Apple Pay is here the UK and the fact the phone supports ultra-fast WiFi and LTE-Advanced bands. There are few features found on Android phones that you’ll miss if you swap to Apple’s handsets, and we’re looking forward to what Apple is cooking up with the next iPhone come September.

Read next: Why the iPad Pro leaves the iPad Air 2 in the dust

Last updated: 11/8/2016


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