The fact that Apple is still selling the iPhone 6S, a phone that will be three years old in four months, is a testament to how good the phone is.
In the past, Apple has only offered the previous-generation iPhone after it announces a new model.
But if you compare the specs of the iPhone 8 or the iPhone X on Apple's website, you'll notice that the phones look pretty similar. You'll be telling yourself: "Yep, the iPhone 6S has this, and that, and that."
The main differences are the chips that dictate performance and certain features, as well as a few incremental improvements in the iPhone 8 and iPhone X to things like the display and camera. These are hugely important factors when deciding which iPhone to buy, but the iPhone 6S is still a top contender, especially as it now starts at $450.
Here's why you should consider buying the iPhone 6S instead of the iPhone 8 or iPhone X:
It should go without saying that Apple's older iPhones are going to be cheaper than its new ones.
Here's what the new iPhones cost:
However, Apple is still selling the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus for significantly less than the new iPhones:
Unfortunately, you can't buy either iPhone 6S models refurbished from Apple's Refurbished Mac Store.
The new iPhone 8 comes in only silver, gold, and space grey. The new iPhone X comes in only silver and space grey. The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus come in silver, gold, space grey, and rose gold — you can't get an iPhone 8 or iPhone X in rose gold.
If you value design above everything else, the iPhone X would be the iPhone of choice. It's the freshest iPhone design since Apple released the iPhone 6 in 2014, and it looks downright gorgeous.
But the iPhone 6S has an excellent design — and you'll find comfort in knowing that the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus look nearly identical to the new iPhone 8 models. Both the iPhone 6S and the iPhone 8 have the same size of bezels around the display and same overall shape, and their screens are the same size and same resolution.
The main differences in the iPhone 8 is the hidden antenna stripes and the glass back.
The glass backs on the new iPhone 8 and iPhone X allow them to charge wirelessly using the Qi standard. That's great, but it also means they can shatter after a drop, much like the iPhone 4 and 4S could. I had an iPhone 4 with a glass back that shattered even though I had it in a relatively bulky protective case. The iPhone 6S's aluminium back won't crack like a glass one. It might get dings and dents after a drop, but it's less likely to break or crack than the iPhone 8 or the iPhone X.
All the new iPhones come with the same chargers as the iPhone 6S, which means they'll charge at the same speed.
Apple added support for fast charging into its new iPhone 8 and iPhone X, meaning you can charge your iPhone up to 50% in 30 minutes. But you'll have to buy extra accessories — including a USB power adapter with the Power Delivery standard, and Apple's USB-C-to-Lightning power cable — to take advantage of that.
The iPhone 8 and the iPhone X also support wireless charging, but that also requires you buy a separate charger.
The Apple A9 chip turning the wheels inside the iPhone 6S is still a great performer. I updated my iPhone 6S Plus to iOS 11 when it was first released, and I've hardly noticed any slowdown. Apps might take a little longer to load on the iPhone 6S than they do on the iPhone 8, but it's still perfectly suitable for my day-to-day needs, and I'm very fickle about my apps opening quickly.
On top of the A9 chip, the iPhone 6S still has an incredibly fast Touch ID sensor — so I can unlock my iPhone 6S Plus with minimal delay, which is also very important to me. Face ID, an iPhone X exclusive feature that lets you unlock the phone using the front camera and your face, never really worked properly for me. It was a slower and more frustrating experience than the simple Touch ID. I expect it's something Apple can improve over time with future software updates and new models.
The iPhone 8 Plus' camera is excellent, and it's also an undeniably better camera than the iPhone 6S'. Still, the camera on my iPhone 6S Plus takes incredible photos, and I'm happy to capture my memories with it. Mind you, this phone is almost three years old!
If the headphone jack still matters to you and you want to stick to a pure dongle-less iPhone experience, the iPhone 6S and iPhone SE are your only choices. Even Android phones are starting to ditch the headphone jack. Eventually, however, you'll have to adjust to a headphone-jack-less world when you upgrade beyond the iPhone 6S.
Apple added improvements to the iPhone 8's and iPhone X's screens, including TrueTone, which adjusts the overall colour temperature to match the lighting in your surrounding, and a wide colour gamut for richer colours.
At the same time, the screen on the iPhone 6S is still excellent. The screen on that phone has the same sharpness and resolution as the new iPhone 8, and it reproduces colours just fine for browsing the web, using apps, watching videos, looking at photos, and playing games.
The iPhone X's screen has the most significant improvements — such as a sharper, larger 5.8-inch display — but again, you won't feel as if you're missing out on much when you're holding an iPhone 6S.
You'll get the same great iOS experience and Apple ecosystem, including timely updates, with the iPhone 6S that you would if you bought an iPhone 8 or an iPhone X. Sure, you won't find some of the cool new software-based features you'd find on the iPhone 8 or the iPhone X, like "portrait mode" in the camera app. But for the most part, you're getting the same smartphone experience as every other iPhone.
When a company promotes a new feature, it shows off the best thing you can do with it. For the iPhone 8 and iPhone X's augmented-reality features, Apple thinks the best thing you can do with it is "digitally redecorate your home, explore a city you've never visited, or even walk with dinosaurs."
Augmented reality is in its early stages, and as Apple notes, "the possibilities are endless." But right now, there aren't that many possibilities with augmented reality that excite me to the point that it's worth the extra cash for an iPhone 8 or an iPhone X.
Even the top augmented-reality app in the App Store right now can't crack the top 500 apps overall.
That said, the iPhone 6S has excellent performance, a stellar camera, and a great screen. But some features on the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X, like water resistance and most augmented-reality apps, don't exist on the iPhone 6S, and you'll have to decide for yourself whether they're worth the extra R12 000 to R14 000.
Here's what you're getting if you spend more for an iPhone newer than the 6S:
• Faster performance.
• Better cameras.
• A slightly better screen on the iPhone 8 and a drastically better screen on the iPhone X.
• Extra features that are nice but not essential, like portrait mode, wireless charging, and fast charging, the latter two of which require extra purchases.
• Augmented reality.
• A fresh design with the iPhone X.
• Water resistance.
To be sure, these are all improvements, but you have to ask yourself whether paying the extra money when the iPhone 6S is still such a good phone.
It's true that the iPhone 6S will show its age a lot quicker than the iPhone 8 or the iPhone X. But look at it this way: When the iPhone 6S becomes too slow for your day-to-day use in one or two years' time, you could upgrade to the iPhone 8, which will likely cost less than the brand-new 2019 model.
The iPhone 6S is an example of how recent iPhones have longer life spans when it comes to performance — and that we don't need to spend top dollar for the new models.