Review: iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus | iLounge

Review

Review: iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus

A-
Highly Recommended
iPhone 8 Plus

B+
Recommended
iPhone 8

Company: Apple

Model: iPhone 8 / iPhone 8 Plus

Price: $699 – $949

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Jesse Hollington

Pros: Solid updates to both of Apple’s standard iPhone models offer the same horsepower as Apple’s upcoming iPhone X in a proven and familiar form factor. New all-glass design brings back some of the “museum-quality” elegance of the iPhone 4 era. Virtually identical dimensions mean that almost all previous cases should continue to fit. A11 processor unlocks new camera improvements and experiences such as augmented reality. True Tone display improves on-screen color reproduction. Despite the same specs, both models feature noticeable camera improvements. iPhone 8 Plus gains a new Portrait Lighting mode for even better portrait photos. Fast-charging provides a 50 percent charge in 30 minutes. Wireless Qi charging makes recharging more convenient, especially when using a case.

Cons: Modest improvements over the iPhone 7 make this year’s update feel less significant, particularly in comparison to the looming iPhone X. The iPhone 8 continues to lag behind its larger sibling for photography. Package still only includes the same 5W power adapter as before, so you’ll need to supply your own adapter for faster charging. Wireless charging also doesn’t offer any additional performance over the included 5W power adapter.

The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are one of the most interesting iPhone updates Apple has released in the past few years. From a purely aesthetic point of view, we’d say the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are certainly the most attractive iPhone models that Apple has put forth since the original iPhone 4; there’s just something about the glass design that adds a dimension of class and elegance to the experience.

From a technology point of view, even though the iPhone 8 models are living under the looming shadow of the iPhone X, both are still very solid entries in their own right, packing in the same A11 Bionic processor and performance as Apple’s upcoming flagship iPhone. While the iPhone 8 models don’t offer flashy features like Face ID, an OLED screen, or Animoji, they still offer the same substance under the hood, moving the needle ahead for interesting new augmented reality and machine learning technologies.

That said, if you’re already an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus user, there’s not going to be much here to entice you to upgrade to either of the iPhone 8 models. We’ve been toting an iPhone 8 Plus for almost two weeks now, and to be honest half the time we’ve forgotten that it’s even a new iPhone — especially when using it in a case — since it otherwise feels and performs so closely to the iPhone 7 Plus that we’ve been using for the past year. The camera improvements are nice but not groundbreaking, and Portrait Lighting, wireless charging, and fast charging are all things that are nice to have, but not something that most users will find justifies an upgrade. In short, despite the whole new number, the distance between the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 feels like quite possibly the smallest gap we’ve ever seen between two iPhone models.

Of course, we’ve never felt that Apple’s iPhone releases are targeted primarily at those on an annual upgrade cycle. Notwithstanding the company’s iPhone Upgrade Program, we suspect most iPhone users are still on two-year cycles due to carrier contracts and subsidies. Taken through that lens, the iPhone 8 is a very worthwhile upgrade for somebody coming from a two-year-old iPhone 6s, and this is even more true of the iPhone 8 Plus with its dual-camera system, which continues to differentiate the 5.5-inch iPhone from its little brother in more than just size, and as with last year is enough of an improvement to justify a slightly higher recommendation for the larger model.

With the upcoming iPhone X getting so much attention as the hottest thing going right now, it’s easy to miss the fact that the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus actually provide the same performance. The iPhone 8 models are the steady, reliable workhorses of the lineup and are very worthwhile choices for those who aren’t particularly interested in embracing the bleeding edge of technology — especially in light of the considerable price premium involved.

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Editors' Note: iLounge only reviews products in "final" form, but many companies now change their offerings - sometimes several times - after our reviews have been published. This iLounge article provides more information on this practice, known as revving.

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