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Grow Your Business Technology

Apple iPhone 6s Plus Review: Is It Good for Business?

Apple iPhone 6s Plus Review: Is It Good for Business?

The iPhone 6s Plus is better for business than the standard iPhone 6s, thanks to its roomy 5.5-inch display and longer battery life. Otherwise, the two smartphones are virtually identical, combining fast performance, a great selection of apps and solid security options. 

Both the standard iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus introduce a new feature you won't find on any other smartphone: a pressure-sensitive display that opens the door to a bunch of new touch gestures. Apple calls it 3D Touch, and although it won't blow you away, it is genuinely useful.

While I wish that Apple had been a little more generous with the internal storage, the iPhone 6s Plus is still easily one of the best work phones on the market. But does it do enough to beat powerhouse competitors like the Galaxy Note 5?

If you're coming from an older-generation iPhone, prepare to be shocked by the size of this device. The iPhone 6s Plus is virtually identical to the iPhone 6 Plus, launched last year, which means it's a really big smartphone. I can't even come close to reaching the top of the device with my thumb without some serious finger gymnastics, though I do have relatively small hands.

In fact, the 6s Plus (0.29 inches, 6.8 ounces) is actually slightly thicker and heavier than the original iPhone 6 Plus (0.28 inches, 6.07 ounces). The extra heft can be attributed to the components that allow for 3D Touch. 

Regardless, the 6s Plus still looks sleek and is light enough to comfortably hold for long stretches of time. I also like the gently curved edges, which make it comfortable to grip. 

The iPhone 6s sports a huge 5.5-inch display, which has its upsides and downsides. The most obvious perk is that it provides a lot more room to work on than other iPhone models do. Everyday tasks like managing your email inbox are easier on the big display, and screen-intensive tasks — such as viewing large documents and editing spreadsheets — feel quite comfortable.

But unless you have very large hands, a big screen like this can also be difficult to use. And the phone's large chin — the part of the bezel where the home button is located — only makes it more difficult to reach the top of the screen. Fortunately, a clever trick from the original iPhone 6s carried over to this model: You can quickly double tap (don't press) the home button to move the entire active portion of the screen down halfway, making it easy to reach the top corners with one hand.

With a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, the iPhone 6s Plus' screen is sharp enough, but it doesn't look quite as crisp as the Galaxy Note 5's quad-HD display. At least it's really bright, topping out at 498 nits of brightness, which beats the category average of 430 nits. Bright displays are easier to view outdoors or in direct sunlight.

Despite my initial skepticism, I came away impressed by Apple's highly touted 3D Touch feature. It works because the iPhone 6s Plus has a special pressure sensor embedded in the display that can detect how hard you're pressing down. That opens up all kinds of interesting touch gestures, many of which are genuinely useful.

My favorite application of 3D Touch is the "peek" feature, which lets you preview various content as you browse the Web. So, instead of tapping a link in Google's search results, which would load the page, you can hard press it to see a preview of the page instead. Press down even harder to commit to loading the page, or let go to return to Google.

Similar functionality can be found inside the Mail app. Hard pressing on a message in your inbox lets you glimpse a preview of it. Then, you can slide to the right to send it to the trash, slide left to mark it as red or swipe up to reply. And when you see an address in a message, you can hard press it to peek at a map of that location. I loved navigating around the iPhone 6s' interface like this, once I got the hang of it.

And you will have to get the hang of it before 3D Touch really starts to click. That's because it works a little differently in every application. If you don't mind a bit of a learning curve, though, it can actually speed up tasks and make you more productive.

Speaking of speed, the iPhone 6s Plus — alongside the standard iPhone 6s — is the fastest phone there is. Both new devices are powered by Apple's new A9 processor, which helped them outperform all challengers in our tests. They even beat Samsung's Galaxy S6, which was previously the fastest phone we'd tested.

In our real-world speed test, which tasks a phone to open up a huge 1.6GB PDF file, the 6s Plus finished in just 82 milliseconds, which beats the Galaxy S6 (127 milliseconds). In practice, though, both phones feel blazing fast and offer snappy multitasking.

Each new iPhone release has always brought a big software update with it, and this one is no exception. The iPhone 6s Plus introduces iOS 9, which packs a bunch of new productivity-boosting features.

My favorite change is a smarter version of Siri, Apple's virtual-assistant app. It's now capable of understanding commands in context, so you can say or type, for example, "Remind me to finish this later tonight," while you're reading an email message. Siri will understand that you're referring to the email, and set a reminder accordingly. 

And there are a slew of small tweaks, like an improved keyboard with easier access to frequently used commands such as cut and paste. Other perks include an interface overhaul for Apple's Notes app, and time-saving changes like the ability to search through your phone's settings using keywords. Finally, the new Low Power Mode helps you stretch your phone's battery life.

Overall, iOS 9 isn't as transformative as iOS 8 was last year, but it still packs plenty of changes that can help you stay productive.

As usual, Apple's Touch ID fingerprint sensor is easy-to-use and reliable. The sensor is embedded in the phone's home button; just rest your thumb over it to quickly unlock your phone. It's great for workers who want to keep their business phone locked down but don't want to fuss with a password screen every time they use their device.

If you want an iPhone that's sure to last through a long business flight — or just through the end of the workday — then the iPhone 6s Plus is the only realistic option. The phone ran for a solid 8 hours and 16 minutes on our battery test, which beats the smartphone average (7:51) and far outpaces the standard iPhone 6s (6:46). Other phablets lasted longer, though, including the Galaxy Note 5 (9:35).

As a bonus, the iPhone 6s Plus supports Apple's new Low Power Mode, which restricts background updates and visual effects to help you squeeze an extra hour of battery life out of your device when it's low on juice. Don't worry — calls and text messages will still come through when your phone is in Low Power Mode, and you can manually turn the feature off if you want.

Unfortunately, Apple still offers a scant 16GB on the entry-level 6s Plus model, which will run you $749 ($31.24/month). Compare that to the Galaxy Note 5, which offers a minimum of 32GB of space for a cheaper $696.

Business users who need to install a lot of apps or store large files on their phones — as well as anyone who likes to shoot photos and video in their spare time — will want to upgrade to a roomier iPhone 6s Plus model. The 64GB model costs $849 ($35.41/month), while the top-end 128GB model costs $949 ($39.58/month).

While 3D Touch is interesting, the iPhone 6s Plus' big display is the feature that will really benefit business users. Compared to smaller iPhone models, it provides a lot more room to work. You also get great software, solid security features, speedy performance and much better battery life than you do with the smaller iPhone 6s.

Still, the iPhone 6s Plus isn't the only great phablet for business. Overall, I prefer the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 for its handy stylus, which turns the device into a digital notepad. But Apple fans can't go wrong with the 6s Plus, which is one of the best business phones anywhere.

Brett Nuckles

Brett Nuckles has been a working journalist since 2009. He got his start in local newspapers covering community news, local government, education and more before he joined the Business News Daily staff in 2013. He graduated from Ohio University, where he studied Journalism and English. Follow him on Twitter @BrettNuckles.