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Hands-On With 3D Touch on the New iPhone 6s Plus

The standout new feature of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus is 3D Touch, which Apple is billing as an evolution of Multi-Touch. The new feature allows the display to sense how much pressure is being applied, opening up new ways for users to interact with their phones. We went hands-on with the 6s Plus and explored what the feature is capable of.

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3D Touch can be used both in and out of apps. Outside of apps, on the Home Screen, a user can press down on an app's icon to quickly interact with the app. This feature is called Quick Actions. For instance, pressing on the Phone app allows you to quickly call a recent contact. Or, pressing down on the Camera icon allows you to quickly take a selfie.

Inside of apps, 3D Touch allows users to "Peek" and "Pop" into their content. For instance, within the Messages app a user can press down on a contact's message thread to see their latest message and then press down harder to Pop into the thread to reply. Finally, 3D Touch can be used to turn the keyboard into a trackpad.

Apple notes that creating 3D Touch was "unbelievably hard", and that the company had to work with Corning to create a new pliable iPhone cover glass. When the glass is pressed, the 96 sensors embedded in the backlight display to measure microscopic changes between it and the glass. The measurements are combined with the touch sensor to sync finger motion with images on the screen.

On first impression, users are enjoying 3D Touch. MacRumors forum member jsmith189 said he thinks it could become an integral part of navigating an iPhone.
I really enjoy the 3D Touch - while there aren't too many apps that use it right now, I can definitely see it becoming part of my everyday 'without thinking about it' navigation.
Other users, like forum member Boardiesboi, note that the feature does take getting used to and that he adjusted the sensitivity on the feature so that it responds to lighter touches.

Users who prefer to use screen protectors on their devices shouldn't hesitate to purchase one for the iPhone 6s or 6s Plus, as Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller confirmed in an email to 3D Techtronics that screen protectors would work with the new display technology as long as they comply with Apple's design guidelines.

While 3D Touch is mostly compatible with Apple apps so far, third party companies are likely to embrace the new functionality in their apps in the near future. Today, Twitter updated its app to take advantage of the feature, allowing users to quickly access search or compose new tweets from the home screen.

Related Roundup: iPhone 6s
Buyer's Guide: iPhone (Caution)


Top Rated Comments

(View all)

11 months ago
Its amazing, magical. srs.

I got a Rose Gold 6S Plus today, and the 3D Touch is really really cool. Probably something I'll get used to and then will miss it if I'm using a different phone.

Also, Safari is definitely snappier
Rating: 14 Votes
11 months ago
I've been enjoying Force Touch/3D Touch and its limited uses on my 6s+, and I can already tell that, like Touch ID, this is something I wouldn't want to be without.
Rating: 12 Votes
11 months ago
Tried it out in store. The problem right now is that a lot of the preinstalled first-party applications don't even support the basic home screen shortcuts, which basically means that I have to remember/try which apps have shortcuts and which don't. Something they should try to do is possibly add some sort of visual hints as to where there are force touch actions available.
Rating: 12 Votes
11 months ago
With all this hard pressing it's a good thing this phone bends less.
Rating: 11 Votes
11 months ago

Someone really needs a way to explain pundits on how this is different from press and hold on a active link or data detectors actions. You can read how dismissive some of the comments online regarding 3D Touch.


I don't think any amount of words will really make them change their minds. They'd need to experience it in person, and then get used to it by using it daily for a while. Only then might they see how useful it is.

That said, I only played around with it for 10 minutes and I already miss it! Will be waiting eagerly for the 7.
Rating: 10 Votes
11 months ago
I don't plan on getting the 6s+ (currently have the 6+) -- but good lord 3D Touch is pretty amazing from afar.

Here they took this two dimensional xy input plane and used sneaky engineering to make it seem malleable into the z direction with haptic feedback. That's some rad stuff you must credit that.
Rating: 10 Votes
11 months ago
I have to say my wife and I are loving our new phones...
Rating: 8 Votes
11 months ago
Obviously I've only had the phone for less than a day, so it remains to be seen how useful it is or isn't in my daily use of the phone long term. I just don't feel it adds much to the experience as of yet. Perhaps when more apps support the feature, it will offer something unique.
Rating: 8 Votes
11 months ago
Someone really needs a way to explain pundits on how this is different from press and hold on a active link or data detectors actions. You can read how dismissive some of the comments online regarding 3D Touch.
Rating: 7 Votes
11 months ago

Has anyone else been able to get it to work on the Music app? It doesn't work on it for me.

If you mean peak, it works with my 6S, you need to press just as hard as you do w the other apps. I also have the setting set to light.

Kinda bummed that this is hardware based and not software based. I guess something new needed to be added to the 6S in order to get people to buy it. Maybe next year will bring something new an exciting as well.

IDK how you would get different pressure measurements w/out hardware to detect it lol
Rating: 7 Votes

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