Which big iPhone should you buy? iPhone 7 Plus vs. iPhone 6S Plus

Brendan Hesse

Like clockwork, Apple unveiled the new iPhone 7 at its September event. Plenty of other gadgets were shown, such as the next generation of the Apple Watch, but the iPhone was the main draw, especially amid rumors regarding big shifts in design and power. As with the iPhone 6S, the iPhone 7 also comes in a Plus size. With a new iPhone 7 Plus on the way, we’ve compared the specs between the iPhone 7 Plus and the previous model, the iPhone 6S Plus. Below you’ll find a detailed breakdown of the hardware and design specs for both phones and their cameras, as well as analysis dissecting how the two compare.

Specs

iPhone 7 Plus

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iPhone 6S Plus

iphone-6s-plus-photo-2-293x588

Size 158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm (6.23 x 3.07 x 0.29 in) 158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3mm (6.23 x 3.07 x 0.29 in)
Weight 6.63 ounces (188g) 6.77 ounces (192g)
Screen 5.5-inch IPS LCD 5.5-inch IPS LCD
Resolution 1,920 x 1,080 pixels 1,920 x 1,080 pixels
OS iOS 10 iOS 9, upgradable to iOS 10
Storage 32GB, 12GB, 256GB 16GB, 64GB, 128GB
MicroSD card slot No No
NFC support Yes (Apple Pay Only) Yes (Apple Pay Only)
Processor Apple A10 Fusion 64-bit Apple A9 processor
RAM 2GB 2GB
Connectivity 4G LTE, GSM, CDMA, HSPA+, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi Wi-Fi, GSM, CDMA, HSPA, EVDO, LTE-A
Camera Rear dual 12 MP, Front 7MP Rear 12MP, Front 5MP
Video 2160p at 30fps, 1080p at 30/60/120fps, and 720p at 240fps 2160p at 30fps, 1080p at 60fps, 1080p at 120fps, and 720p at 240fps
Bluetooth Yes,  version 4.2, A2DP, LE Yes, version 4.2
Fingerprint sensor Yes Yes
3D Touch Yes Yes
Water resistant Yes, IP67 rated up to 1 meter and 30 minutes No
Battery Non-removable Li-Ion battery Non-removable Li-Po 2,915 mAh battery
Charger Lightning Lightning
Headphone Jack No (3.5mm to lightning adapter included) Yes
Marketplace Apple App Store Apple App Store
Color offerings Jet Black, Black, Silver, Gold, Rose Gold Gold, silver, gray, and rose gold
Availability AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile
DT review Pending 4.5 out of 5 stars

Design

iPhone 7 Plus & iPhone 7
iPhone 7 Plus & iPhone 7

iPhone 7 Plus & iPhone 7

There is one major design aspect that differentiates the iPhone 7 Plus from the iPhone 6S Plus: The headphone jack. Or, more accurately, the lack of one. With the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, Apple has ditched the once-universal aspect of smartphones, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and has instead opted for a single lightning port to serve all connectivity needs.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be able to use headphones with the iPhone 7 or 7 Plus, as the devices will ship with a 3.5mm to lightning port adapter. Sure, it’s a strange concession, but at least Apple isn’t leaving the user high and dry.

Apple will also be selling wireless headphones (at a premium, of course), and the iPhone 7 Plus also features an extra speaker, so playing music played on the device will sound better.

Related: Buying an iPhone 7? How to sell your old iPhone without getting ripped off

The other big difference between the two devices is water resistance. The iPhone 7 Plus is water resistant in up to one meter of water for 30 minutes. The iPhone 6S Plus doesn’t offer water resistance at all. That feature alone gives the the iPhone 7 Plus an edge in this category, especially considering how similar the two devices are otherwise.

Perhaps unsurprisingly for a company that tends to keep the form factors of its devices similar, the iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 6S Plus measure up almost identically in terms of dimensions. Both are 6.23 inches tall by 3.07 inches wide and 0.29 inches deep. The screens are also identical, measuring in at 5.5 inches with a resolution of 1,920 by 1,080 pixels, and both are IPS LCD. The only real change in measurement is the iPhone 7 Plus’ slightly lighter weight of 6.63 ounces, versus the iPhone 6S Plus’ 6.77 ounces, but we’re willing to be such a minuscule drop will make much of a difference in terms of how it feels in the hand.

While the tale of the tape puts both phones at equal, the available color options for both phones differ. You can get both the iPhone 7 Plus and 6S Plus in silver, gold, and rose gold, but the iPhone 7 Plus also comes in jet black and black. In contrast, the iPhone 6S Plus can be purchased in gray.

Color choice is largely a subjective factor, and since both phones are available in similar colors anyway, it’s hard to give points to one phone over the other in this regard. They look the same, weigh nearly the same — the only big differences in design is the 7 Plus’ water resistance and lack of 3.5mm jack. The antenna lines have also been moved to the edges of the device, so they no longer cross the back.

The loss of a headphone jack is annoying, but Apple appears to be making the transition at least a little easier thanks to the included adapter — plus, the extra speaker gives the 7 Plus and edge over the 6S Plus with audio playback, but it’s the water resistance that really gives the iPhone 7 Plus the edge here. That’s more than enough to give the iPhone 7 Plus the win in this category.

Winner: iPhone 7 Plus

Power

iPhone 7 A10 chip
iPhone 7 A10 chip

The iPhone 7 Plus begins to break away from last year’s model in terms of power. Equipped with the A10 Fusion processor, iPhone 7 Plus users will notice a difference in speed and power.

Built into the A10 Fusion are a pair of high-performance cores that reportedly outpace the cores of the iPhone 6S Plus’ A9 chip by about forty percent. The A10 also boasts a hexa-core GPU that will make visual-heavy apps and games run much better on the iPhone 7 Plus.

Related: How to pre-order the new iPhone 7 or Apple Watch Series 2 — and avoid the lines

While both devices can run iOS 10, the iPhone 7 Plus will ship natively with iOS 10, while iPhone 6S Plus users will have to install the new OS version as an update. It’s also likely the iPhone 7 Plus’ hardware, which is already more powerful than the 6S Plus’, it tailored to better suit the demands and features of iOS 10.

In terms of RAM, both phones pack 2GB of memory. However, they differ in terms of internal storage capacities. The iPhone 7 Plus comes in 32GB, 128GB, and 256GB models, while the iPhone 6S Plus comes in 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB varieties. The bump in starting storage space is another big win in the iPhone 7 Plus’ column.

Clearly, the iPhone 7 Plus outstrips the 6S Plus in tems of hardware capabilities, but it’s worth noting that the iPhone 6S Plus is no slouch when comparing to other devices on the market. Both phones are fast, powerful devices, and going with the iPhone 6S Plus over the 7 Plus won’t leave you too far behind.

Winner: iPhone 7 Plus

Camera

iPhone 7 Plus
iPhone 7 Plus

iPhone 7 Plus

The camera on the iPhone 7 Plus brings all sorts of new features and upgrades, which put it leagues ahead of the iPhone 6S Plus’ camera.

The iPhone 7 Plus is the first iPhone to feature a dual-lens camera. The primary, rear-facing camera has two 12-megapixel lenses, which enable wide angle shots and optical zoom. One has a 28mm wide-angle lens with a f/1.8 aperture, while the other camera is a 56mm telephoto lens with a f/2.8 aperture. The telephoto lens offers 10x zoom via software. The lens itself is capable of 2x zoom, which is impressive on its own. The back cameras also have OIS (Optical Image Stabilization), and quad-LED flash for a better, brighter flash on your photos. Compared to the single-lens 12-megapixel camera on the iPhone 6S Plus, the iPhone 7 Plus is a marked upgrade.

All of these upgrades mean that you can achieve a number of interesting new effects with the iPhone 7 Plus, including selective focus, the bokeh effect, more depth in images, a wider field of view, and more. Compared to the single-lens 12-megapixel camera on the iPhone 6S Plus, the iPhone 7 Plus is a marked upgrade.

Related: iPhone 7 and 7 Plus: Everything you need to know

Meanwhile the iPhone 7 Plus’ front-facing camera uses a 7-megapixel lens, versus the iPhone 6S Plus’ 5-megapixel lens. In other words, your selfies are about to get a whole lot prettier. The iPhone 7 Plus is the clear winner in this category.

Winner: iPhone 7 Plus

Price and availability

The iPhone 7 Plus has a few days yet before its release on September 16, and will cost $770 for the base 32GB model, while the 128GB and 256GB run the bill up to $870 and $970, respectively.

Related: iPhone 7 vs. iPhone 7 Plus: Is the iPhone still best when you go big?

Seeing as how the iPhone 6S Plus is already out, and Apple added a 32GB model that costs $650 as well as a 128GB model that’ll run you $750, it’s still a good deal. Although the iPhone 7 Plus is more expensive and you’ll have to wait for it, the upgrades are worth it. Regardless, the iPhone 6S Plus wins this round for that (compartively) low price tag.

Winner: iPhone 6S Plus

Conclusion

It’s not surprising, but the iPhone 7 Plus’ technical specs a simply better the 6S Plus’ — it is the newest phone, after all. That said, while in most of these categories the iPhone 7 Plus wins, it’s not necessarily because it completely trounces the hardware and features of the 6S Plus. Yes, the iPhone 7 Plus is the better phone, and clearly the winner of this match up, but they’re both more than capable devices compared to a large number of other smartphones on the market.

If you’re upgrading from a pre-6S iPhone, and money is a factor, the 6S Plus will suit you well. Similarly, if you’re looking at upgrading from a 6S Plus to a 7 Plus, there may not be too much of a difference, all things considered. However, given the overall specs, the iPhone 7 Plus is by far the best upgrade option if you’ve got the budget. Shutterbugs will also want to opt for the iPhone 7 Plus for its camera features alone, and the accident-prone will appreciate the waterproofing casing of the iPhone 7 Plus.

Winner: iPhone 7 Plus