iPhone 6s Taptic Engine image 009

When Apple says that a redesigned vibrator inside the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, branded as the Taptic Engine, gives you “real-time feedback” in the form of subtle taps, the company is not exaggerating. The new oscillating mechanism, now enclosed with its own aluminum shell, reaches its full power in just one cycle (and stops just as quickly) versus ten or more oscillations for most other smartphones.

This allows for a more precise level of haptic feedback to accompany the new Peek and Pop deep-presses provided by 3D Touch. As part of iFixit’s detailed teardown analysis of the new iPhones, the repair wizards have blasted the Taptic Engine with X-rays to show it in action.

One speedy oscillator

iFixit contributes the slight iPhone 6s weight gain to the Taptic engine itself and the 15-gram heavier display assembly which uses an additional capacitive layer.

“The all-new Taptic Engine takes up a large chunk of space below the battery, which might explain the slight reduction in battery size,” said the firm.

And here it is in action.

And this is a blast of X-ray radiation revealing Apple’s new linear oscillating mechanism under the aluminum shell of its own. The shell itself has a few spring contacts and a big label complete with the Apple logo mark.

“That’s not Photoshopped for contrast—dense materials like magnets absorb more X-rays, so the haptic feedback mechanism looks dark and crisp compared to other materials, like the aluminum frame,” explains iFixit.

iFixit iPhone 6s teardown image 003 Taptic Engine

Due to 3D Touch and Taptic Engine taking up more space, the iPhone 6s has a smaller 1,715 mAh battery versus the 1,810 mAh cell in last year’s iPhone 6, although battery life has remained the same.

For those wondering, the new Taptic Engine replaces the traditional vibration motor in last year’s models. All told, the iPhone 6s earned a 7 out of 10 on iFixit’s Repairability scale, the same as last year’s model.

Why Taptic Engine matters

With a new dimension added to the iPhone’s user interface in the form of pressure-sensing 3D Touch technology, Apple had to create new ways of conveying Peek and Pop events to the user not just visually, but through a more precise level of haptic feedback.

Shorter, more distinct feedback events allow for more nuanced experiences. For example, a mini-tap (Peek) is conveyed to the user with a haptic feedback even lasting ten milliseconds.

If you press the screen further to pop into content, Taptic Engine produces a different feedback event. Same goes for the full tap, which lasts fifteen milliseconds.

Check out a few more scenes and dramatic closeups of the Taptic Engine taken from Apple’s ‘inside components’ promotional video for 3D Touch features of the new iPhone 6s.

iPhone 6s Taptic Engine image 003

iPhone 6s Taptic Engine image 006

iPhone 6s Taptic Engine image 004

iPhone 6s Taptic Engine image 007

iPhone 6s Taptic Engine teaser 001

iPhone 6s Taptic Engine image 008

iPhone 6s Taptic Engine image 009

It’s these haptic responses that let you know what actions you’re performing and what you can expect to happen. Again, these subtle taps from the much improved Taptic Engine are essential to providing taptic feedback in ways the old vibrator just wasn’t capable of.

In my view, Taptic Engine is one of the underrated features of the new iPhones and it’s essential for the seamless 3D Touch experience.

What are your thoughts on Taptic Engine on the new iPhones?

  • rockdude094

    Essentially it vibrates..

    • Geoffrey Spencer

      It taps too. I have the Apple Watch and it is more than just vibrating. I can tell if my alarm is going off or that I got an email, text message, etc… before even lifting up my hand and best of all no one hears anything.

    • logiclaser5000

      Way more than just that… Try sending one of the new imessages (like the fireworks one)… You will see, feel and hear, the future of these user interfaces right there…

  • Shingo

    when shamesunk will copy this?

    • CuBoy531

      The images and the x-rays were probably done by shamesuck.

    • Ankit H Jain

      The moment they can figure out how to actually sell people their shitty Galaxy Gear watches.

    • It’ll probably be called 4D touch!

      • N&LH

        Or Samsung Touch

  • AeronMcaerhon

    most likely they made this because they want to be different for vibrator motors are mainstream, yet still same purpose. ^_^

    • Anthony

      not really the same purpose. with the vibration motor, you can’t do 10 millisecond taps… so 3D Touch wouldn’t be as immersive with the old motor.

  • This is pure Apple, I cant think of any other big player in the phone industry that would put this much thought and engineering into what is essentially a nex-gen vibrator motor

    • Himanshu Oberoi

      agree!

  • socrates

    Taptic Engine makes 3D Touch possible, and I would argue that 3D Touch is the best feature on these new phones.

    The home button will never have to be pressed ever again.

    • Eyal Rotem

      As I have no experience with the new iOS and iPhone, how come it’ll never be pressed again?
      Are there gestures like auxo or seng or tage offer?
      3d touch gesture to exit an app?
      I’m intrigued

      • The OS dictates how the touch input is to be interpreted. For example pressing on a certain portion of the screen on the lock screen could be interpreted as the press of the home button. I feel that the iphone 7 will lose the home button. All those renders a few years back for a phone without the home button all seem to fall into place with the introduction of force touch. Think of force touch as having different digital switches all over the screen, and the best part is that these switches can become user modifiable(if a jailbreak were to pop up). The possibilities are simply endless.

      • Felipe Queiroz Drumond

        Actually, the TouchID can be used as a home button, simply touching it. I don’t know why Apple still use this physical button.

      • But that would mean that the CMOS sensor on the home button remains on all the time, which eventually drains the battery.

      • Felipe Queiroz Drumond

        I have been using it for 6 months now. I couldn’t notice battery draining.

      • Which tweak – activator?

      • Felipe Queiroz Drumond

        VirtualHome
        For those with a broken home button, it worths! That’s why I think home button is not necessary anymore.

      • I see – I’ll try this out!

      • TeddyBearStand

        You were right 🙂

      • socrates

        Yes, exactly that.

        With 3D Touch, pressing firmly on different areas of the screen activate different features. If you’ve got Safari open, as I do now, and I’d like to quickly switch to, say, Contacts, to check a phone number, I activate 3D Touch by firmly pressing the left side of the screen.

        This action can be used to either switch directly to the last used app, or, to open the multitasking view.

        Moreover, if you’re a user of the AssistiveTouch accessibility feature, you can customize a 3D Touch gesture for when you firmly press on the AssistiveTouch icon. I personally have it set to emulate a press of the home button, but others may use it to quickly lock the screen, or maybe invoke Siri.

        If you can, try seeing all of this for yourself in an Apple Store. It’s wonderful.

    • logiclaser5000

      It’s actually way more than that… the first time I really “got it” was with the new themed imessages… Really incredible…

  • Morgan Freeman

    I wonder what the lifecycle is on those teeny tiny coil springs.

    • coLin

      17 years

  • I find it absolutely amazing that a digital taptic engine is powered through a mechanical spring, this is the perfect synergy of mechatronics in action. A great invention from apple which almost flopped on the watch.
    The last bit of amazing engineering from Apple was the processor in the apple macbook which didn’t need a fan. Industry first, I guess?

    • Morgan Freeman

      It’s not digital, nor is it something Apple invented. They merely refined and adapted what has been known for a very very long time- electromagnetism. It is an electromagnetic motor. That’s all it is essentially. Yes it’s neat, yes it’s cool, yes it differs from what you usually see, but they did NOT invent anything. Don’t misunderstand..I’m not trying to take away from the device, just clarify a few things.

      • What is an electromagnetic motor btw? If you could point me to some links, I’d surely appreciate it. They did refine something that did exist, invention might be too strong a word here – perhaps patented tech might be the correct usage.

      • Morgan Freeman

        An electric motor is an electrical machine that converts electrical energy into mechanical energy. The reverse of this would be the conversion of mechanical energy into electrical energy and is done by an electric generator. -via Wiki
        Patented tech, yeah I’d go with that. 🙂

      • Excuse me? Now an ‘electromagnetic motor’ becomes an electric motor and electric generator? Nope, your wiki definition is not what I asked for!

      • Morgan Freeman

        That’s what it is. Electromagnetism = electric motor. A motor doesn’t necessarily spin.

  • The code to interpret touch input?

    • Eyal Rotem

      What features that could replace the home button exist,if any, on stock iPhone 6s?

      • Like I said, future versions of iOS might allow you to have a corner ‘button’ which will allow you to mimic home button touch, or even invoke a double press.

      • Eyal Rotem

        yes, that’s an idea…
        was just wandering if there’s any implementation of that already. guess the answer is “no”.

  • Woodsings

    And now the vibration of the Taptic Engine perfectly matches the tones for text tones and ring tones. It’s pretty neat.

  • Cristian B

    Off topic (kinda): This phone is godly fast. It barely feels any heavier too

  • Lordrootman

    Hold on don’t forget about Samsung 5D is on the way

    • logiclaser5000

      Don’t hold on too tightly though, it might burst into flames…

  • Alberto Espinal

    It’s actually a nice feedback I have the 6s Plus and it’s very settle!!

    • Ed

      Subtle.

      • Alberto Espinal

        Thanks!

  • Been an android fanboy and just picked up the 6S. this taptic engine feels really good. best vibration I’ve had on a phone. don’t ever wanna go back to the old clunky motor again.

  • rotorhead1871

    coolness…

  • Agneev Mukherjee

    So beautiful images…

  • Russell E.

    Like the women at the sex store says. “It’s just another vibrator”.

  • in my opinion, the tactic engine is stupid. I first experienced it on a fellow vet’s laptop when i was helping him update his software. when you highlight something the touchpad would vibrate and you would have to press the entire laptop’s upper portion down to click. this is such a stupid device, i can’t see why anyone didn’t tell jonathan ivy that it is stupid and a waste of time.

  • electroviking

    my bet is that the software is to come, or that it wasn’t disclosed right away.
    I think that they’ve placed the hardware in proactively,
    and the software will work with the accelerator to sense being dropped,
    and adjust the phone’s angle.