Ten years after Steve Jobs announced the original iPhone, today Tim Cook revealed the latest major revision of Apple's smartphone. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus have a lot in common with the iPhone 7, but a new processor, improved camera, wireless charging, and the iPad Pros's True Tone display might be a compelling reason to upgrade again.
A Familiar Design
There was speculation that today's event would only yield an updated 's' version of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus with minimal spec and feature bumps, as Apple has done with the past versions of the iPhone. But Cook and co. are skipping ahead to the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, which each feature the same 4.7-inch (1,334 x 750 pixels) and 5.5-inch (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) LCD screens as the 7 and 7 Plus, but with the iPad Pro's True Tone feature carried over to automatically adjust the colours on the screen depending on your surrounding lighting.
The new versions of the iPhone look nearly identical to their predecessors, including the non-clickable Home button featuring Touch ID's fingerprint sensor. But on the back of each device you'll now find a full glass panel, like the iPhone 4 had, which facilitates the Qi wireless charging standard. That's right, you can finally charge your iPhone by just plopping it down on the countless Qi-compatible wireless chargers already on the market.
Optional colours include silver, space grey, and a new gold tint, so those worried about losing their bling option can breath a sigh of relief. One additional feature that's not immediately obvious is the addition of an extra speaker near the earpiece on the top of the device giving the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus full stereo sound.
Inside the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus is Apple's new A11 Bionic 64-bit processor which features a hexa-core chipset similar to the A10X Fusion processor that can be found in the recent iPad Pros. Two of the processor's six cores will be dedicated to handling tasks requiring extreme processing power (think games, rendering and compressing video, etc.) while the other four will be dedicated to simpler tasks to improve efficiency and battery life. The A11 also features Apple's first custom graphics chip, with three cores which will presumably be a big assist as new augmented reality tricks debut on the iPhone.
A Great Camera Learns Some New Tricks
The iPhone 7 had one of the best smartphone cameras available, and the 7 Plus introduced Apple's Portrait mode which used the device's wide and telephoto camera lenses to calculate depth and artificially defocus the background of photos. The iPhone 8 Plus further expands that functionality with a larger 12-megapixel camera sensor and a new Portrait Lighting mode that combines the smartphone's flash and depth map to simulate studio lighting setups that don't actually exist. Like the original Portrait Mode, the results aren't perfect when scrutinised, but adjusting the lighting on someone's face in realtime is an incredibly fun feature that the selfie-obsessed should adore.
On the video side, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus also boost high-speed video capture to 240 frames per second at 1080P HD, and a new Apple-designed hardware video encoder designed to reduce the times of renders, improve video quality, and reduce file sizes.
So what's it going to cost you this upgrade cycle? You'll be able to pre-order the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus starting this Friday, September 15 for $US699 ($871) for the 64GB base iPhone 8 (or $US849 ($1,058) for 256GB), and $US799 ($995) for the 64GB base iPhone 8 Plus (or $US949 ($1,182) for 256GB).