Note: This article was first published on 21st September 2017.
iPhone owners usually have an easy upgrade decision to make this time of the year; either get the new iPhone with the regular screen or the iPhone Plus for the bigger display.
This year, however, the iPhone X looms over the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, making the decision more complicated. So, if you’re undecided, which iPhone should you get? Well, it helps to know what’s important to you.
If you have the money, go for the best iPhone — but be prepared to wait. The iPhone X is Apple’s best iPhone. It has an all-screen look that’s the biggest redesign for the iPhone since, well, iPhone. It has the best screen, it has the best cameras, it has a nicer stainless steel frame, and it’s the only iPhone with Face ID, which unlocks the iPhone when it recognizes your face.
However, the iPhone X will cost you. It’s the most expensive iPhone ever at S$1,648 (64GB) and S$1,888 (256GB). In comparison, the iPhone 8 costs S$1,148 (64GB) and S$1,388 (256GB), and the 8 Plus costs S$1,308 (64GB) and S$1,548 (256GB).
And you’ll need to wait. In fact, we expect the phone to sell out very shortly after pre-orders start on Apple Store online on 27 October. The iPhone X will hit retail on 3 November, and it’s expected to have high demand but extremely limited supplies. Apple Store Orchard will have stocks on the day for walk-in customers from 8AM, and suffice to say, it's foolish to think you can just stroll in at lunch time to get one.
If you need an iPhone now, get the 8 or 8 Plus. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are readily available since 22 September, while the iPhone X will only ship on 3 November, and we expect they’ll be harder to get. If you absolutely need a new iPhone as soon as possible, get the 8 or 8 Plus.
If you want the biggest screen, get the iPhone 8 Plus. While the iPhone X’s display measures 5.8” diagonally and the 8 Plus’ display measures 5.5”, the 8 Plus actually has a larger usable screen area.
It’s a little complicated, but it comes down to math and the way we view our content. The iPhone 8 has the smallest display among the three, with a screen that measures 4.7” diagonally. But the iPhone X’s display is only marginally wider than that of the iPhone 8 - it has a width of 2.5” while the iPhone 8 measures 2.3”. The iPhone 8 Plus still has the widest screen at 2.7”.
The iPhone X has a longer diagonal, because it has the tallest screen, at about 5.3”. In comparison, the iPhone 8 has a screen height of about 4.1” and the 8 Plus has a screen that’s 4.8” tall.
The iPhone X has an odd 19.5:9 aspect ratio, making it even taller than the Samsung Note8, which has an aspect ratio of 18.5:9. Most video content is in 16:9, which means that you’ll get black borders on both sides of the X’s screen.
The iPhone X also has the camera notch on the top of the display, which further reduces usable screen estate. If you zoom into a photo, video or app, it’ll cut into the camera notch at the top of the display. That may not be a deal breaker for you, but it’s not a problem on the iPhone 8 Plus. The iPhone 8 Plus, on the other hand, has an aspect ratio of 16:9, which makes it ideal for watching videos - you don't get black borders.
There is one caveat. If you simply want a larger screen than the iPhone 8 but don’t want a larger phone, then get the iPhone X. You get a longer display, and in a chassis that’s not much bigger than the iPhone 8.
However, while the iPhone 8 Plus has the largest screen, it doesn’t have the best screen, and to talk more about that we have to go to the next page …
(Note: Apple doesn’t specify the display measurements and nobody has actually taken a ruler to measure the iPhone X’s display, but kudos to Serenity Caldwell from iMore who worked out the physical measurements.)