Restoring from my iTunes backup didn’t work the first time. It didn’t put all the apps back or put them in right places. I wiped the phone, and the second time it worked perfectly.
The iPhone 6s definitely looks larger than my 5s. Within a day or so, the extra row of icons, and having more screen space in general, feels normal. Reading is much better than on the narrower screen. Typing is a bit easier. Going back would feel constricting.
It does not feel normal in my hand, though, and every day I miss the 5s’s size. There are so many times, especially with Safari View Controller, where I need to reach the top of the screen, and this just feels awkward. The Reachability double-touch—which must be very light—feels less convenient than a hand shimmy. Perhaps it would work better with a dedicated hardware button. It’s just not as easy to use one-handed as the 5s.
I have always used my iPhones caseless. For me, at least, this is no longer possible with the iPhone 6s. Improved or not, the metal surface feels slippery. Between that and the thinner, smoother shape, I found myself gripping the phone much more tightly. It’s strange because the 6s looks curved—is actually curved—but it feels almost pointy, digging into in my hand; the 5s has edges that look sharp, but it sits lightly in the hand, the edge feeling more like a texture than a blade. Every other iPhone has felt good in my hand, some better than others, but all good. The 6s was so uncomfortable that I would have returned it if I couldn’t find a case that I liked. Secondarily, the camera bump is unsightly and unpleasant to touch, and having case mitigates that.
I wanted to like the Apple silicone case because it is very grippy and has several great color options. Unfortunately, it is way too grippy for everyday use. It sticks going into my jeans pocket, and pulling out the phone turns my pocket inside-out. The silicone case also collects dust and lint like crazy.
I settled on the Apple leather case. It changes the phone’s shape enough that it feels comfortable in my hand. It’s grippy enough, but it still slides in and out of my pocket easily. With the case, the 6s feels much larger than the 5s. Unlike with the 5s, it sometimes gets situated in my pocket such that it digs in when I bend to sit or stand. (I’m on the slim side but don’t wear skinny jeans.) The lip at the top of the case collects dust, but the rest of it does not. For the first few days, the leather irritated my skin a bit, but now it’s fine. I don’t mind the leather wearing, but I’m slightly worried that it will get smelly or grimy over time. Had I known about the Evutec Karbon before buying the leather case, I might have gone with that instead.
I’m not happy with the buttons compared with previous iPhones. Without a case, the buttons seemed too easy to press. I would power off the phone by accident. With a case, the power button is almost too hard to press if I don’t get the spot exactly right. I also don’t like its position on the side, opposite the volume buttons. Often, I’ll grab the phone to turn it off, bracing against the volume side while pressing the power side, and I’ll accidentally change the volume.
The speaker seems much better. I’ve found myself playing music or podcasts from my pocket if my Bluetooth headset is charging or not handy.
The Touch ID sensor is much faster, not instant, but so much faster that I sometimes unlock the phone by accident. I intend to turn on the screen from the Home button, then swipe up to access the camera. Instead, the phone unlocks, and I end up at the home screen. Now if I want to get to the camera, I tap the Home button with the tip of my finger to prevent it from unlocking.
The battery life definitely seems shorter than on my two-year-old 5s, but this is not a serious problem for me. I’m not sure whether I have the Samsung or TSMC A9, and I’m skeptical that there is much difference in battery life.
Overall, phone reception seems better. I often have two or three bars in locations where I previously had one or two. Unfortunately, I’ve had lots of problems with the phone not ringing. At first I thought this was because I had misconfigured Do Not Disturb. But then it failed to ring when I asked someone in my “Disturb” Contacts group to call. And it has also failed to ring outside of the Do Not Disturb hours.
On the software side, the overall speed is incredible, though it all too soon becomes expected. San Francisco is great. Apps are finally listed alphabetically in the Notifications screen in Settings, so it’s much easier to find them.
I love being able to move the cursor around with 3D Touch and trackpad mode. Unfortunately, this does not work with third-party keyboards. Peek and Pop are useful and reduce the need to reach to go back. I like being able to hard-swipe from the left edge to switch apps. I can finally print to PDF by peeking and popping on the print preview, and there is also a “Save PDF to iBooks” action. Not every app can print, though, so it’s still nice to have PDF Converter (App Store).
“Hey Siri” works again, and it’s surprisingly useful when the iPhone is unplugged. I find myself using it from across the room.
The camera is much improved, although I would say not as big an improvement as with previous two-year periods. The Camera app does seem to open a lot faster, which is great. It’s still infuriating that the camera doesn’t remember that I always want to use HDR.
I like the idea of Live Photos but find myself not using the feature. This is partly because they don’t automatically import well into Lightroom. Lightroom sees that the movie and photo files have the same basename, and it imports the movie file with the photo as an invisible sidecar. To see the movie and photo separately, you have to rename one or the other before importing. That’s easy enough to do with a find and replace, but it can’t be done within Lightroom, which means an extra step or two. The other problem is that Lightroom seems to set the movie’s date to when the movie was imported, rather than when it was recorded, which means that the movie-photo pairs don’t sort together.
There’s an unfortunate bug where the music or podcast stops playing when I open the Camera app. This is related to Live Photos, but it happens even if Live Photos is disabled. Apple told me that a fix is in the works.
I’ve heard that even with iOS 9.0.2, there may still be a bug where apps use cellular data when they’re not supposed to. At least judging by iOS’s self-reported statistics, the switch is working for me.
Lastly, it’s frustrating that Contacts groups don’t work better. The groups are not sorted alphabetically, and there is still no way to create a group or assign a contact to a group from the phone (except via the Web interface).
Update (2015-10-21): The bug where audio pauses when you open the Camera is not fixed in iOS 9.1.
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