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Apple iPhone 8 and 8 Plus review: In the shadow of X

By James Lu & Alvin Soon - 22 Sep 2017
Prices:

Overview and Design

 

Overview

Okay, let's get this out of the way first: the iPhone X is the iPhone you're drooling over. It's experimental, it's exciting, it has an edgy letter 'X' in its name (although it's still pronounced "ten"). It has a better display, it has better cameras, it has Face ID and animated poop emojis - but it's also a lot more expensive. At S$1,648 for the 64GB model, and S$1,888 for the 256GB model, it's twice the price most people usually pay for their phone, and if that's just a little too much, you might start looking at the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus as consolation prizes. 

But you really shouldn't. They're both excellent devices in their own right, boasting faster processors, new camera features and wireless charging. And, at S$1,148 (64GB) and S$1,388 (256GB) for the 8 and S$1,308 (64GB) and S$1,548 (256GB) for the 8 Plus, while they're in no way cheap, they do reside in the realm of normal flagship phone pricing. They're living in the shadow of the X, but for the majority of the world's Apple users, these will be their next iPhones. But just how good are they? Let's find out.

  Apple iPhone 8 (256GB) Apple iPhone 8 Plus (256GB)
  Apple iPhone 8 (256GB) Apple iPhone 8 Plus (256GB)
Launch SRP
  • From S$1548
Latest Price
  • From S$698
  • From S$730
Operating system
  • iOS 11
  • iOS 11
Processor
  • Apple A11 Bionic hexa-core processor
  • Apple A11 Bionic hexa-core
Built-in Memory
  • 2GB RAM
  • 3GB RAM
Display
  • 4.7-inch Retina HD / 1,334 x 750 pixels (326ppi) / IPS
  • 5.5-inch Retina HD / 1,920 x 1,080 pixels (401ppi) / IPS
Camera
  • Rear: 12-megapixel, f/1.8 iSight camera with phase detection autofocus, OIS and quad LED (dual-tone) flash
  • Front: 7-megapixel, f/2.2 FaceTime HD camera
  • Rear: Dual 12-megapixel, (f/1.8, 28mm & f/2.8, 56mm) with phase detection autofocus, OIS, and quad LED (dual-tone) flash
  • Front: 7-megapixel, f/2.2 FaceTime HD camera
Connectivity
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 4G+ LTE Cat 12 (up to 600Mbps), dual-band, hotspot, Bluetooth v5.0, A2DP, LE, GPS, GLONASS, Lightning connector
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 4G+ LTE Cat 12 (up to 600Mbps), dual-band, hotspot, Bluetooth v5.0, A2DP, LE, GPS, GLONASS, Lightning connector
Storage Type
  • 256GB internal storage
  • 256GB internal storage
Battery
  • 1,821mAh
  • 2,675mAh
Dimensions
  • 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3 mm
  • 158.4 x 78.1 x 7.5 mm
Weight
  • 148g
  • 202g

Design

Design-wise, Apple has stuck to basically the same look since the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Last year's big changes are present and accounted for: they're both IP67 dust and water resistant, which means they can survive in 1m of water for up to 30 minutes, and they both lack a 3.5mm headphone port. The big difference between the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 7 is on the rear of the phones, where there's a new glass back that enables wireless charging. From the front though, they look virtually indistinguishable. In fact, put a cover on them, which we're sure most people will do, since glass is a lot more fragile than aluminum, and no-one will know which iPhone out of the past four years you own. 

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 logo.

While I still like the simple, clean design of the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, I can’t help but feel some design fatigue. For many people, a big part of buying a new phone is having something new and exciting to hold and admire, but for the majority of iPhone users out there, upgrading to the 8 or 8 Plus will essentially look and feel exactly the same as their previous phone. Some new non-metallic color options would have gone a long way to making the phones more exciting - a red version similar to the Product Red iPhone 7 released earlier this year, under that glossy glass rear, would look particularly attractive.

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 the minimal back will be uniform in all countries when the iPhone 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 also slightly heavier and thicker than last year's versions (glass is both heavier and thicker than aluminum). It's not a huge amount - an extra 0.2mm thickness added to both phones, and 10g more for the 8 and 14g more for the 8 Plus, but it's noticeable.

8.5
  • Design 8
  • Features 8.5
  • User-Friendliness 8.5
  • Performance 9
  • Value 8
The Good
Incredible benchmark performance
Wireless charging
Improved stereo speakers
Improved cameras
Portrait Lighting (for the 8 Plus)
The Bad
Looks the same from the front
Mostly incremental upgrades
Not the iPhone X
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