In the shadow of X

Apple iPhone 8 / 8 Plus.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Apple iPhone 8 / 8 Plus.

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Apple has stuck to the same look for the iPhone since the iPhone 6 series. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus do look different from the rear, thanks to a new glass back that enables wireless charging, but from the front they look virtually indistinguishable from any iPhone in the past four years.

Despite the popularity of Apple’s Rose Gold color, surprisingly, it isn’t available on the iPhone 8. Instead we’re back to Silver, Gold, and Space Grey. It’s also worth noting that despite their names, the colors on the rear of the phone aren’t metallic at all, so Silver is more of a light grey color, and Gold is a creamy beige. You do get the full metallic color on the aluminum frame that goes around the side, on the ring around the Touch ID home button, on the ring around the camera module, and of course on the Apple and iPhone logos.

One other minor change that you may not notice at first is that the only word on the back of the phone is ‘iPhone’ - there’s none of the usual “Designed in California, Manufactured in China” or any of the other regulatory words and symbols. I like this new minimalist look, but it’s not clear if it will be uniform in all countries when the iPhone 8 ships, as different countries may have different rules about this kind of thing. We know that the Singapore version at least will sport this cleaner look.

The new iPhones are actually slightly heavier and thicker than last year’s versions (glass is both heavier and thicker than aluminum) but it’s not a huge amount - just 0.2mm thickness added to both phones, with 10g / 14g more for the 8 / 8 Plus.

As they have for the past four years, the smaller iPhone 8 uses a 4.7-inch 1,335 x 750 pixels resolution Retina display (326ppi), while the larger iPhone 8 Plus has a 1,920 x 1,080 pixels resolution Retina display (~401ppi).

While these resolutions may seem rather lowend compared to the QHD displays offered by competitors, I honestly can’t see any difference in clarity between the 8, 8 Plus and the QHD 6.3-inch display on the Samsung Galaxy Note8.

A new addition to the iPhone 8 display is True Tone technology, first seen in Apple’s 9.7-inch iPad Pro. True Tone dynamically adjusts the white balance of the screen to adapt its color and intensity to your environment. It does this through the phone’s ambient light sensors, which also control the autobrightness function. The result is a display that looks more like a piece of paper, which makes it less glaring and easier on the eyes.

The iPhone 8’s stereo speakers have improved and are now much louder with noticeably deeper bass. Stereo separation is also a lot more obvious, especially on the larger 8 Plus.

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PROCESSOR Apple A11 Bionic.


DISPLAY 4.7-inch 1,335 x 750 pixels resolution (326 ppi) LCD.

CAMERA 12-megapixel, f/1.8 with phase detection autofocus, OIS and quad LED (dual-tone) flash.

DIMENSIONS 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3 mm.

WEIGHT 148g.



PROCESSOR Apple A11 Bionic


DISPLAY 5.5-inch 1,920 x 1,080 pixels resolution (401 ppi) LCD

CAMERA Dual 12-megapixel, (f/1.8, 28mm & f/2.8, 56mm) with phase detection autofocus, OIS, and quad LED (dual-tone) flash

DIMENSIONS 158.4 x 78.1 x 7.5 mm


A new glass rear enables wireless
A new glass rear enables wireless charging.
The wording and regulations
below the iPhone logo have been
The wording and regulations below the iPhone logo have been removed.

The iPhones you can afford, but not the one you want.

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The iPhone 8 ships with new 12MP sensors — yes, it’s the same resolution as the iPhone 7, but the new sensors are bigger. Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t reveal how much bigger, but all things being equal, a bigger image sensor equates to better image quality. True enough, image quality is better than last year, and colors continue to be the iPhone’s strong suit. They’re rendered beautifully, with subtle graduations, and remain mostly true to life. Portrait photography on the 8 Plus has also been improved with a new Portrait Lighting feature. This feature uses face mapping and bunch of algorithms to simulate studio lighting. There are five effects, Natural Light, Studio Light, Contour Light, Stage Light, and Stage Light Mono; the looks range from natural and even, to dramatic and striking.

Both the 8 and 8 Plus use Apple’s new A11 Bionic processor, a hexa-core chip with two performance cores and four efficiency cores that the company says are 25 percent and 70 percent faster that the old model respectively. There’s also a new Apple-designed GPU that’s 30 percent faster, and only consumes half the power when working at the same rate as the A10. Both phones performed even better than expected in our performance benchmarks. Notably, the 8 Plus managed to almost double the score of Samsung’s Galaxy Note8 in 3D Mark’s Sling Shot Unlimited benchmark.

Due to the extra hardware required for wireless charging, both the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus have smaller batteries than their predecessors. The 8 is down to 1,821mAh while the 8 Plus is down to 2,675mAh. Despite this, battery life was surprisingly good with both phones actually showing a slight increase in battery life compared to last year’s models. In our video looping benchmark, the 8 managed to last just over ten and a half hours, while the 8 Plus lasted 13 and a half hours.

Both the 8 and 8 Plus support wireless charging. Unfortunately, you’ll have to buy a separate wireless charging pad to use this feature. On the plus side, Apple is using the Qi wireless charging standard, which is also used by most Android phones with wireless charging, including LG, Samsung, Google and Motorola, so if anyone in your household has a wireless charging Android phone, there’s a good chance you can just borrow their charging pad.

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus however, own the dubious distinction of being the shortest reigning Apple flagship smartphones, being surpassed a mere twenty minutes later by the newer iPhone X, which boasts a more exciting design, a better display, better cameras, and Face ID.

The only problem with the iPhone X is that it’s incredibly expensive, with the 256GB model coming in at a staggering $1,888. Even if you just can’t justify paying that much for a smartphone, it’s easy to start seeing the 8 and 8 Plus consolation prizes. But you really shouldn’t, they’re both excellent devices in their own right. They’re just not the X.

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