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Same Same But Different

Tech 6s1Tech editor Graham Harkness takes a look at the new iPhone 6s

The new iPhone 6s is due to come out this week. Will it break the traditional apple cycle of introducing small changes over its predecessor or will it revolutionise the smartphone market?

Those of you who may have been to Thailand over the summer are probably familiar with the expression “Same Same”. Having done the backpack around Asia thing three times already it is a term I am familiar with and one that comes to mind every time a new iPhone hits the shelves. ‘Same Same but Different’ is a marketing term which I am told was coined by the street traders of Bangkok. Essentially when something is almost the same, but not quite. The term is usually employed when I try to buy Beats headphones from a street-trader and enquire as to their authenticity and am told “Same Same”,or when I ask to be taken to the airport by a Tuk Tuk driver and arrive at a shifty looking tailor on the far side of Pat Pong, again to be told “Same Same”. When apple release a new iPhone I almost always think to myself …. Same Same.

 I have tried to be more objective and less cynical with the launch of this particular iPhone though. With that in mind I guess I should at least outline the cold hard specifications before I ultimately conclude why you should not buy one. You may find that the reviewers of the new device who praise it as God’s latest achievement and can find positives in the faults have all received test devices by Apple. I have received no such grace.

Apple have released their new phone to the slogan “The Only Thing that has Changed is Everything”. But does that really make sense? The phone is almost identical on the outside to its predecessor, though you can now pick it up in its new pink colour, “Rose-Gold”. The 6s is 14 grams heavier than the 6 but to be honest, I don’t really find this a deciding factor when choosing a phone. The phone is said to have a much more robust feel than the 6, which should prevent a repeat of the “Bend Gate” debacle. Nevertheless, it should not be denied that the iPhone looks and feels like a well built and stylish device. (I refuse to use the word beautiful as an adjective for a phone. Sunsets are beautiful. A phone is stylish).

Apple have included the new Live Photo feature. This is admittedly a pretty cool piece of technology. The camera records the moments before and after you take a picture. When you press the image the picture comes alive like a mini video or GIF. The issue here is that you cannot upload these Live Images to the web to share, they can only be viewed on other Apple devices. The phone does have a pretty nifty 12 megapixel camera and a 5 megapixel front facing camera, perfect for those selfies in the toilets with your mates.

The phone does have a faster processor, the A9 with a 64bit architecture. Nevertheless, a phone only needs to be as fast as the speed needed to load your emails, regardless of the make or model. Whether your phone loads the emails in .2 or .4 of a second really does not make that much of a different.

By far the loudest selling point of the new phones is this 3D Touch feature which has been hailed by many reviewers as an Apple innovation to rival the phone itself. Now not to sound like an Android fanboy, but this feature seems a lot like the S-Touch of a Samsung. This feature essentially means that the harder you press your screen the more options are available to you. You can preview messages instantly by just holding your finger on the screen rather than wasting countless seconds opening the message again.

So the question remains… should you get one of these new iPhones? The phone isn’t a huge improvement over the ridiculously priced Samsung S6. Its battery life is surpassed by the new Sony Z5. The phone would be great for an Apple user wishing to update their 4s or 5 model to the latest version. People often ask me about buying the latest model iPhone and since the 3GS I have always given the same advice – skip an iPhone generation. If you have a 3GS get a 4S. If you have a 4s skip straight to the 6. Otherwise you are just getting “same same but different”.

To offer some final words, Sam Grobart of Bloomberg Business strikes me as one of those who believe the new iPhone can do no wrong. “The best thing about the 6S and 6S Plus isn’t all the new stuff to pay attention to, it’s all the stuff you never notice.” To be honest Sam, if I am about to sign a contract for €40 a month for 24 months and still drop the guts of €299 on a phone, you are damn well sure I would want to notice the stuff I have paid for. If that really is the best thing about the phone, I’ll stick with my Nokia 5210.

It has snake.

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