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What's new in Apple's latest iPhones: 3D Touch, 12MP camera and a new Rose Gold color

By Liu Hongzuo - on 10 Sep 2015, 5:33am

What's new in Apple's latest iPhones: 3D Touch, 12MP camera and a new Rose Gold color

iPhone 6S Plus (left) and iPhone 6S (right).

Apple unveiled its newest iPhones at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, California today. Outwardly identical to last year's models, the focus this year is on functionality, with the new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus boasting a new 3D Touch display, a more powerful A9 processor, and an improved 12-megapixel camera are among the key highlights. Oh and does a new color count?

Technically, there are some physical improvements. First off, Apple is using a new custom aluminum alloy for the body, which is stronger than last year's body (and hopefully is more resistant to bending). The display is also tougher than last year's thanks to a new Ion X protective glass, said to be even stronger than Gorilla Glass. Both of these improvements aren't really noticeable though, so if you're the type of person who has to show off that you have the latest and greatest, the only way you'll be able to do that is by picking up a 6S or 6S Plus in Apple's new Rose Gold color - it's similar to the existing gold color, but with a pinkish hue.

The new Rose Gold iPhone 6S.

 Silver, Gold, Space Grey, and all new Rose Gold for the latest iPhone 6s series.

Inside the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus is Apple's new A9 processor. According to Apple, the 64-bit chip is 70 percent faster in CPU performance and 90 percent faster in GPU performance than the old A8 chip. The A9 processor also uses a new transistor architecture for better energy efficiency. It is accompanied by a M9 motion coprocessor that is always enabled when the iPhone 6S or 6S Plus is on. There's no mention of RAM in the announcement, and although it is a possibility that the 6S models will still be running on 1GB RAM, we've a strong feeling that it should be running on 2GB of RAM given all the new capabilities that the phone is meant to tackle. In fact, we stumbled upon this screenshot from MacRumors where a chat with Apple customer service reveals that the new phones are indeed using 2GB of RAM. MarketWatch is yet another site that has reported the new devices to have 2GB of RAM.

The latest A9 processor with a brief rundown of specs.

The biggest new feature for the 6S is an update to the screen technology that Apple is calling 3D Touch. It is essentially the same Force Touch technology found in your Apple Watch or MacBook Force Touch trackpad, but renamed for some reason. 3D Touch allows you to press down on the iPhone's screen to pull up new menus, activate shortcuts, and generally interact with the device in new ways. 3D Touch works by responding to the pressure applied to the glass on the screen, with the phone detecting the distance from the backlight to the display. Apple's Taptic Engine is also built into the phone to provide a feedback cue. The sensitivity of 3D Touch screen is fine enough that it can differentiate between a 10 millisecond mini-tap and a 15 millisecond full tap.

3D Touch brings up different options depending on the pressure applied, like a supercharged right-click for smartphones.

The rear camera has been improved too. It's now a 12-megapixel module, making it the first time Apple has bumped its rear camera's megapixel count since the iPhone 4s back in 2011. Along with a higher megapixel count, the camera can now also record 4K video. Apple also says that the sensor will be more color accurate, having implemented a technology called deep trench isolation, which blocks and separates the RGB photo diodes, preventing different colored diodes from bleeding into each other. One thing that hasn't changed? The lens still protrudes from the back of the phone.

Illustration of the deep trench isolation technology used in the sensor of the new 12-megapixel camera.

The front camera is better too. It's now a 5-megapixel camera (up from the 2.2-megapixel unit before), and to help you take better selfies, the phone's display works as a flash of sorts - it just lights up to three times brighter than it normally would. It's pretty smart too, the color shown on the display will match the ambient lighting of the environment a photo is being taken in.

To take advantage of the new camera, Apple is introducing a new feature called Live Photos. The idea is that every time you take a photo, a short video clip will be captured at the same time showing a second and a half before and after the image. HTC actually did this years ago with its Zoe camera, but it's still a pretty neat idea.

Live photo feature - taking 1.5 seconds of footage from before the shutter.

Pre-orders for the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus begin on 12 September 2015, and they will begin sales in Singapore on 25 September 2015. Click here for full details on pricing and availability.