6 Key Ways the iPhone 6 & iPhone 6S Are Different

iPhone family
The current line up of iPhone models, as of March 2016: the 6S, 6, and SE. image credit: Apple Inc.

The differences between the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S aren't immediately obvious. That's because from the outside the 6 and the 6S look basically identical. With two great phones that seem so similar, it can be hard to figure out which you should buy. If you're wondering whether you should splurge on the 6S to get the cutting-edge model or save some money and get the 6, knowing the 6 most important ways they're different is crucial. 

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iPhone 6 vs 6S Price

iPhone lineup
The current iPhone lineup, 5S, 6 and 6S. image credit Stephen Lam/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The first, and maybe most important, way that the 6 and 6S series are different is the bottom line: price.

The 6 series, since it's now a year old, costs less (these prices assume a two-year phone contract):

  • iPhone 6
    • US$99 for 16GB
    • $199 for 64GB
  • iPhone 6 Plus
    • $199 for 16GB
    • $299 for 64GB
  • iPhone 6S
    • $199 for 16GB
    • $299 for 64GB
    • $399 for 128GB
  • iPhone 6S Plus
    • $299 for 16GB
    • $399 for 64GB
    • $499 for 128GB.

NOTE: Apple no longer sells the iPhone 6 series. These days, the 6S, which it does still sell, costs $449 for the 32GB iPhone up to $649 for the 128GB iPhone 6S Plus. The subsidy provided by phone companies for two-year contracts no longer exists, so prices are higher.

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The iPhone 6S Has 3D Touch

3D Touch on iPhone 6S
image credit Apple Inc.

The screen is another major place that the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S are different. It's not the size or resolution—those are the same on both series—but what the screen can do. That's because the 6S series features 3D Touch.

3D Touch is Apple's iPhone-specific name for the Force Touch feature it introduced with the Apple Watch. It allows the phone to understand the difference between the user tapping on the screen, pressing on the screen for a short time, and pressing the screen for a long time, and then to react differently. For example:

  • You can get a preview of emails or text messages without opening apps by using a short press. 
  • A long press on an app reveals a menu of shortcuts for common functions of the app to increase efficiency. 

The 3D Touch screen is also required to use the Live Photos feature of the 6S series, which transforms still photos into short animations.

If you want to take advantage of 3D Touch, you'll need to get the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus; the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus don't have it.

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The Cameras Are Better on the iPhone 6S

iPhone photography
image credit: Ming Yeung/Getty Images News

Almost every version of the iPhone has a better camera than its predecessor did. That's the case with the 6S series: its cameras are better than those on the 6 series.

  • The iPhone 6S has a 12-megapixel camera on the back that can record video at 4K HD resolution. The camera on the 6 is 8 megapixels and records up to 1080p HD.
  • The user-facing camera on the 6S is 5 megapixels and can use the screen as a flash for taking selfies in low light. The same camera on the 6 is 1.2 megapixels and has no flash.

If you only take photos from time to time, or just for fun, those differences probably won't matter much. But if you're a serious iPhone photographer or shoot a lot of video with your phone, you'll appreciate what the 6S has to offer.

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The 6S Has a Faster Processor and Networking Chips

circuit board
image credit Jennifer Trenchard/E+/Getty Images

Cosmetic differences are easy to see. The hardest differences to detect are performance differences. Over the long term, though, more speed and power translates to more enjoyment of your phone.

The iPhone 6S series packs more punch in its internals than the 6 in three areas: 

  • Speed: It's built around Apple's A9 processor, which Apple says is 70% faster overall, and 90% faster in graphics tasks, than the A8 processor in the 6 series.
  • Motion Tracking: The 6S series uses the M9 motion co-processor, which is the next generation of the M8 in the 6 series. It provides more detailed and accurate tracking of movement and activity.
  • Data Connection: Lastly, the cellular radio chips in the 6S allow faster data connections to phone company networks and the Wi-Fi chips do the same for those networks. You won't be able to take advantage of that speed until phone companies upgrade their networks, but when you do, your 6S will be ready. Your 6 can't say the same.
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Rose Gold is a 6S-Only Option

iPhone 6S Rose Gold
image credit: Apple Inc.

Another way the iPhone 6S and 6 series models are different is purely cosmetic. Both series offer models in silver, space gray, and gold colors, but only the 6S has a fourth color: rose gold.

This is purely a matter of style, of course, but the 6S gives you the opportunity for your iPhone to stand out in a crowd or to accessorize with your jewelry and outfits.

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The 6S Series Is Slightly Heavier

image credit Vladimir Godnik/Getty Images

You probably won't notice this difference too much, but it's there nonetheless: the 6S series is slightly heavier than the 6 series. Here's the breakdown:

  • iPhone 6: ​4.55 ounces
  • iPhone 6S: 5.04 ounces
  • iPhone 6 Plus: 6.07 ounces​
  • iPhone 6S Plus: 6.77 ounces

Needless to say, a difference of half or three-quarters of an ounce isn't much, but if carrying as little weight as possible is important to you, the 6 series is lighter. 

Now that you know the ways the 6S and 6 series are different, check out these articles:

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