The Wait Is Over
The launch of the iPhone 8 and 8Plus has been overshadowed by the announcement of the X, but they are great phones in their own right
Last month, I was there at the Steve Jobs Theater as Apple unveiled the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus as the most advanced phones the company had ever made…a title the iPhones 8 held for just about 10 minutes as Tim Cook revealed the radically-redesigned iPhone X as the company’s bold vision for the future. Since then, the narrative has shifted almost completely to the X…which is a bit of shame since, as I’ve found out in the past couple of weeks of use, that these are excellent devices in their own right.
Part of the reason why both the iPhones 8 were so easily overshadowed by the X comes down to the fact that their basic industrial design dates back to the iPhone 6. From the front, there’s the all-too-familiar design with big bezels above and below the screen, leaving these devices indistinguishable from recent iPhones. The sides are still aluminum, but turn them around, and the metal back has been replaced by a pane of strengthened glass. The obvious benefit is wireless charging, which means you can now buy one wireless charging accessory that conforms to the Qi standard and wirelessly charge your iPhone and Samsung flagship from the same charger!
The displays on these phones are, size-wise, identical to last year’s models, but they now offer a wider colour gamut (the range of colours a screen can show) and True Tone tech, the latter a fancy term for using sensors to detect the ambient light and subtly adjusting the colour temperature of the screen to match your surroundings.
If you cast a glance at the camera specs, little seems to have changed from last year’s 7 / 7 Plus, so I was surprised to see how big the improvements were in photos shot in low light and in high contrast scenes. The 8 Plus’ Portrait Mode (blurred background) is on point, and it now comes with a Portrait Lighting mode which mimics different types of lighting on your subject, and some of the results from the Studio and Stage Light modes end up looking rather professionally shot! You can now capture 4K video at 60 frames per second, which is a smartphone first.
All this computing as courtesy the new A11 Bionic chip, which the iPhones 8 share with the upcoming X. The chip is testament to Apple’s chip design prowess, and the results show everywhere — unlocking the phone, autofocus during pictures, switching between apps in iOS 11. You notice the extra horsepower particularly when you play around with apps that use Apple’s augmented reality implementation (ARKit) in iOS 11, and the fluidity and response benefits are easily discernible. Battery life is similar, despite the extra power on tap, which means you easily get past a heavy day on the Plus model without having to recharge.
The iPhones 8 may not have the X’s all-screen display and facial recognition, but you gain the familiar (and quicker) fingerprint sensor/home button, not to mention a fair bit of saved cash in the bargain. If you need the latest greatest, wait for the X — for most who want a phone that works well, takes great photos and has a good display, the iPhones 8 will fit the bill.
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