IT’S NOT OFTEN that the launch of an iPhone is met with a lacklustre response, but that was arguably the case with this year’s iPhone 8, which took the backseat to Apple’s 10th-anniversary iPhone X.
While some may argue that the iPhone X, with its full-screen design, Face ID tech and superior camera, make the iPhone 8 instantaneously obsolete, Apple’s lesser-hyped smartphone ain’t to be sniffed at. It’s got an all-new glass design that means it supports wireless charging for the first time, it packs Apple’s new A11 Bionic chip and, most importantly, it’s available for less than $299
We’ve been using the iPhone 8 as our main daily driver for a few weeks now, so read on to see how it stacked up.
Apple launched the iPhone 6 back in 2014 and has stuck with the same basic design since.
While the iPhone 8’s aluminium rear has been replaced with a glass finish – which feels impressively grippy in hand – its overall finish is the same as that which debuted three years ago. This means it does feel somewhat dated, especially when placed down next to Samsung’s Galaxy S8, although those fond of Apple’s go-to design unlikely will have any complaints.
This dated feel is largely down to the chunky bezels that surround the 4.7in screen, with Apple’s rivals – and even Apple itself – making the move towards full-screen, bezel-free devices. This does mean that there’s room for Apple’s trusty Touch ID sensor underneath the display, though, which has so far worked flawlessly every time.
Like the iPhone 7, the iPhone 8 is waterproof too, thanks to the handset’s IP67 certification which means, in theory, it should withstand being dunked into water up to 1 metre for 30 minutes. This has rung true for us so far, but we try and avoid getting the handset too wet given its exposed ports on the bottom.
Elsewhere on the handset you’ll find the Lightning port on the bottom edge is flanked by a speaker and microphone, and there’s nothing up top. There’s no return for the 3.5mm audio jack, but Apple includes a Lightning to 3.5mm headphone jack adapter in the box.
There’s also updated stereo speakers, which make the phone around 25 percent louder than the iPhone 7.
The iPhone 8’s display is largely identical to the iPhone 7. And the 6S, and, er, the iPhone 6. This means that the 4.7in screen, with its 1,334×750 resolution, does feel somewhat old-fashioned, not to mention small, compared to the likes of the Galaxy S8 and Pixel 2, again, added to by the bezels that surround it. Quality wise, while it pales against its rivals on paper, we’ve no complaints, and it continues to be among the sharpest and most vibrant on the market.
The only real change to the iPhone 8’s screen is the addition of Apple’s True-Tone technology that first debuted on the 9.7in iPad Pro. This True Tone alters the colour temperature of the display depending on the environment in which you’re in, reducing the harsh blue tones typical of an LCD when you’re in a dimly lit room.
Apple’s new A11 Bionic chip sits under the hood of the iPhone 8 and, as expected, it’s incredibly fast.
Specs-wise, the six-core CPU comprises of two low-performance cores and four high-performance cores, with the regular cores being 25 per cent faster than the previous A10 chip, and the high-performance cores being up to 75 per cent faster than the A10 SoC, according to Apple It also comes paired with Apple’s first homegrown GPU, which offers 30 per cent more performance than the A10.
We swapped our iPhone 7 for the iPhone 8, and the speed boost was immediately noticeable. The device unlocked in a flash, multitasking appeared smoother and snappier and, overall, the device showed no signs of slowing down, no matter what we threw at it.
Benchmarks perhaps best show how powerful this device is. In Antutu, the iPhone 8 scored a whopping 203,675, easily trumping the likes of the Galaxy Note 8, OnePlus 5and Pixel 2 XL.
The iPhone 8 ships with iOS 11, naturally, which brings with it improvements to Siri, reworked lock screen notifications, a new-look Control Centre and Apple’s redesigned App Store.
Thankfully, while some have complained that updating to iOS 11 on an older iPhone has caused performance and battery drain issues, we didn’t notice any such problems on our iPhone 8.
On paper, the main camera on the iPhone 8 is no different to that found on the iPhone 7, with Apple retaining the same 12MP sensor with built-in f/1.8 aperture and optical image stabilisation (OIS).
The biggest changes come on the video side of things with 4K recording now available at 60fps and slo-mo video now 1080p at 240fps – both of which are double the iPhone 7 and the former is a first for any smartphone.
We tried it out in a variety of different lighting conditions, indoor and out, and were impressed with the camera’s capabilities – in particular when low lighting is involved, something our iPhone 7 struggled to cope with. This is aided by the always-on HDR, which increases saturation while retaining more natural and realistic colours than images shot on the Note 8, for example.
The biggest changes are seen on the video side, with 4K recording now available at 60fps and slo-mo video now 1080p at 240fps – double what the iPhone 7 has on offer.
On the front of the phone you’ll find a 7MP camera f/2.2 aperture, Retina Flash and 1080p video recording, and while this isn’t as great in low-light as the rear-facing snapper, it’s perfectly good enough for the occasional selfie and Snapchatting, or whatever it is you kids get up to. Unfortunately, however, you don’t get Apple’s new Portrait Mode on the iPhone 8, nor the new Portrait Lighting feature that the iPhone 8 Plus has.
According to Apple, the battery inside the iPhone 8 will last around two hours longer than the iPhone 7’s, despite weighing in slightly smaller at 1,821mAh.This has proved accurate during our time with the iPhone 8 so far. It usually gets us to the end of the day – just, whereas we found we usually had to charge our iPhone 7 most evenings.
It’s much less of a hassle to charge the iPhone 8 too, as it – along with the iPhone X – is Apple’s first smartphone to support wireless charging. What’s more, whereas Apple usually requires expensive propriety accessories, the iPhone 8 supports the Qi wireless charging standard, which means it’ll work with most third-party charges on the market.
We’re yet to test Apple claims that the iPhone 8 can get to 50 percent charge in 30 minutes, though, as this does require you to cough up another £25 on a new cable, assuming you that’s if you have an AC adapter capable of this.
The iPhone 8 is an excellent phone and there are some great new editions to get excited about, such as the inclusion of wireless charging for the first time and Apple’s new A11 Bionic CPU, which is benchmarks are anything to go by, is the fastest mobile CPU on the market right now.
Beyond that, though, the iPhone 8 is an incremental update over last year’s iPhone 7, and its large bezels and three-year-old design mean it does feel somewhat dated compared to the likes of the Galaxy S8 and Pixel XL 2, despite carrying a similarly-expensive price-tag.
Blazing-fast performance, great camera, wireless charging support, excellent display.
Battery life, although improved, remains average.
Large bezels, dated design.