The iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus are great smartphones, ones that are pretty tempting to Apple fans trying to decide on the best time to buy a new iPhone: Is it better to buy an iPhone 6s now or wait until the iPhone 7’s release date this fall? Whether your old smartphone needs replacing ASAP or you’ve mentally allocated your tax refund to a brand new iPhone, you may be leaning toward the iPhone 6s. But because no smartphone is perfect, the iPhone 6s has its own share of problems, despite numerous positive reviews from both tech reviewers and everyday consumers. Here are the problems and issues that you may run into if you purchase the iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus.
1. BATTERY LIFE
Simon Hill reports for Digital Trends that one of the most visible problems with the iPhone 6s is its battery life, which many users have found disappointing. For years, iPhone users have been complaining that Apple continually chooses to make its newest iPhones thinner instead of incorporating a bigger, longer-lasting battery. While the iPhone 6s is slightly thicker and heavier than its predecessor, Trusted Reviews reports that Apple reduced the battery capacity from 1,810mAh to 1,715mAh to fit in features like 3D Touch.
Most of the time, an iPhone battery that runs out of charge far too quickly is caused by a third-party app, but iOS 9’s improved battery monitoring can help you figure out which apps are consuming the most battery power. (Functions like navigation, video-streaming, and the background activity of apps like Facebook are common culprits that put a major strain on the iPhone 6s’s battery life.) You can adjust your usage or turn off background activity for any apps that seem to consume too much power.
The operating system’s new Low Power mode is a useful tool to save battery life; it turns off background activity and reduces the performance of the CPU and GPU, and iOS prompts you to turn it on when the battery hits 20%. You can also turn it on if you know you have a long day ahead, since the iPhone 6s functions fine when the setting is on. You may have issues with the battery if you spend a lot of time playing games, taking photos, or using turn-by-turn directions, but otherwise, it likely won’t be a problem on a day-to-day basis.
The most widely publicized issue with the iPhone 6s is the “chipgate” controversy around the A9 processors used in the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. Some A9 chips for the iPhone 6s are produced by TSMC and others by Samsung, and a number of people analyzed and tested the different chips, resulting in numbers that pointed to as much as a 50-minute theoretical difference in battery life. But as TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino learned, Apple’s own data claimed that the actual battery life of both devices varies by just 2% to 3%, far too low to be noticeable in real-world usage. Apple told the publication:
Certain manufactured lab tests which run the processors with a continuous heavy workload until the battery depletes are not representative of real-world usage, since they spend an unrealistic amount of time at the highest CPU performance state. It’s a misleading way to measure real-world battery life. Our testing and customer data show the actual battery life of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, even taking into account variable component differences, vary within just 2-3% of each other.
Panzarino noted that benchmarks “power-drain” devices by running the CPU at peak for sustained periods of time — something that’s unlikely to happen in real-world situations. He reported that the “big takeaway” from Apple’s decision to use two different chip manufacturers “shouldn’t be that there are a couple of percentage points of difference between the two bits of silicon, but that Apple has kept up with demand for the first time in forever — and that it is setting the stage for what could allow it more control over its chip design with less conflict.”
3. OVERHEATING ISSUES
Many iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus users have reported problems with their phones overheating. While iPhones, like other smartphones, can overheat if you use them continuously for long periods of time (or use them in direct sunlight for an extended period of time), some hardware issues with the iPhone 6s can cause the phone to overheat for no good reason, not just when the owner is playing a battery-intensive game or streaming a long HD video.
The first thing to check if your phone is overheating is the battery usage. (Open the Settings app and then navigate to the Battery section.) An app that’s using a lot more battery life than your usage should warrant may be the culprit, and you can either disable its background activity or uninstall it altogether to see if that solves the problem. If that doesn’t work, you can reset all of your settings, and if your phone is still overheating, you may need to wipe and restore your phone.
A related issue is the problem that some users have reported with the Touch ID button overheating to the extent that it’s too hot to touch. In most cases, you’ll need to head to your local Apple store for a replacement, since this seems to be a hardware issue that even wiping and restoring your phone is unlikely to fix.
4. BAD LOW-LIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY
While the iPhone 6s’s camera performs well in many situations, it doesn’t always do so well in low-light situations. The problems that some users have experienced may be due to the Live Photos feature, which is turned on by default and records video at a low frame rate before and after you capture a photo. You can turn off Live Photos when you’re shooting in low light, which will enable somewhat slower shutter speeds, to see if that solves the problem.
Ben Lovejoy reports for 9to5Mac that DSLRs and high-level compact cameras use large sensors with widely-spaced sensor pixels, which enable you to boost the ISO a lot before the image quality degrades significantly. Such cameras also use wide aperture lenses, which let in as much available light as possible, and allow long exposures, which keeps the shutter open longer to let in more light.
All of those combine for low-light photography capabilities that far outstrip those offered by smartphone cameras, which have small cameras, “wide-ish” aperture lenses, and can’t handle long exposures. Smartphone cameras, including the one in the iPhone 6s, instead amplify the signal from the sensor, which generates a lot of noise in low-light images. The camera in the iPhone 6s performs well for a smartphone, but if you’re hoping that it can match the capabilities of a DSLR, you’re going to be disappointed.
5. ISSUES WHEN RESTORING FROM ICLOUD
Roger Fingas reported for Apple Insider late in 2015 that numerous users have had issues with lost data after restoring from iCloud. Messages, recent calls data, Health statistics, and Safari browsing data have all gone missing after restoring iPhone 6s units from iCloud, and while the root of the glitch is uncertain, it may be related to the original devices being updated to iOS 9.0.1 or later, and then replacements having iOS 9.0. (It’s also possible that iCloud is simply pushing out corrupt backups.)
Fingas notes that one solution to make sure that both the new and original phones are updated to iOS 9.1, to run a fresh backup of the original device, and to reset the second phone to factory settings. At that point, it should be safe to restore the new iPhone from iCloud without the risk of losing important data. You can also use local iTunes backups to restore the new iPhone, especially in the case of an original device that’s either lost or nonfunctional.
6. RANDOM SHUTDOWNS
As Zach Epstein reports for BGR, some users have complained about iPhone 6s units that randomly shut down, and the problem doesn’t have a simple solution. On a single thread on Apple’s support forum, users have complained of iPhones that shut down during the night, causing them to miss alarms set for the morning, and iPhones that refuse to turn back on unless you press the power button for an extended period of time.
Forcing a soft reset with the home and power buttons, or resetting the phones settings within the Settings app, don’t seem to solve the problem, and Epstein reports that instead, your best bet is to back up your data, wipe the phone, and then restore your data. Further, sometimes the wipe and restore process doesn’t solve the problem, and you may need to reset your phone and start fresh, without restoring your data.
7. MISCELLANEOUS GLITCHES
From speaker distortion to 3D Touch bugs to patchy Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity, users have reported plenty of glitches and bugs that pop up from time to time with the iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus. Most of these problems aren’t unique to the iPhone 6s (and, in fact, affect iPhones of all models). Luckily, these will usually respond well to some easy troubleshooting, either by rebooting your phone, checking the relevant settings, resetting some preferences, and keeping your apps and operating system up to date. Other glitches, like 3D Touch bugs that are often hardware issues, can be more persistent. As with any iPhone, you can take a malfunctioning iPhone 6s to your local Apple store for help or a possible replacement.