At Apple’s September keynote, most – if not everyone – had their eyes set on arguably the most exciting iPhone yet: the iPhone X. The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, on the other hand, didn’t have quite as much fanfare. After all, they’re really just incremental upgrades over the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus; why would anyone opt to get either one of these instead of the iPhone X?
Well, like most Apple products, people will buy the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. After spending a brief time with both phones, I can see the appeal: they’re still indispensable in Apple’s catalogue.
So how does the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus differ from their predecessors? Not much. The most immediate differences are the phones’ glass backs for wireless charging support: gone are the aluminium unibody chassis. Beyond this one change, however, most of the improvements are under the hood. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus pack Apple’s new A11 Bionic chips, their displays now come with True Tone technology, and they have new 12MP camera sensors too.
Will the average consumer notice these changes? Not likely, but there are tangible improvements here, which is a given for any new generation product. Differences aside, let’s get to the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus’ good part: the glass back.
To be honest, I’ve always preferred phones with glass backs instead of all-metal chassis. Not only are they not as slippery, if done right, phones with rear glass panels can feel and look much more premium; that’s exactly the case with the new iPhone 8 and 8 Plus.
Both the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are more comfortable to hold than their predecessors, it’s easier to get a good grip on these phones, and of course, they’re definitely sleeker-looking. We have the iPhone 8 in Silver and the 8 Plus in Gold here, and next to the Black iPhone 7 Plus, the former two are easily the more attractive-looking devices.
The front design of the phone, however, aren’t quite as exciting. Much like previous generation iPhones, there are thick top and bottom bezels, lending to a very dated-looking design. These large bezels also make the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus bigger than they should be.
Performance, on the other hand, is unsurprisingly fast. After all, the A11 Bionic chip powering the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus is one of the most powerful mobile processors in the market now. That being said, I didn’t notice any difference in performance level compared to the iPhone 7 Plus, though the extra power will likely be utilised by Apple and developers in the future.
And then we have the new camera, which is very pleasant to use. Unlike the iPhone 7 Plus, HDR is enabled all the time on the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus; you can’t switch it off. You can set it to save a non-HDR image, but I don’t find this necessary at all. See, even though HDR is always enabled, the camera app is still very responsive and quick, which is a very pleasant surprise.
A new feature found on the iPhone 8 Plus is Portrait Lighting: it’s aimed to mimic “pro lighting setups” with presets like Studio, Contour, and Stage. While I do like the first two presets – they do improve the overall look of an image – Stage isn’t quite as refined yet. See, often times, the Stage preset will cut off the wrong portions of an image; sometimes even facial features. Then again, Portrait Lighting is still in beta, so it’ll likely get better in the future.
The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are not entirely different from their predecessors, and that’s totally fine. These are iPhones for those who need to upgrade their phones now; those who can’t justify forking out a premium for the iPhone X; and those who just want an ol’ reliable iPhone.
See, as impressive as the iPhone X is, it has a number of new features that have not been tested thoroughly by consumers yet. There’s the odd notch at the top of the display – which may get in the way of videos and games – the slew of new and unfamiliar gesture-based navigation methods, and of course, Face ID in lieu of the tried-and-tested Touch ID.
So that’s where the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus enter the picture: those who don’t want to be early adopters of the iPhone X will automatically look into getting them instead. Do they bring huge new features to the table? No, but they’re iPhones people know and love over the years.
Thanks Zing Gadget for loaning us the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus for this hands on!