iPhone 8: The Gizmodo Review

This year, Apple broke from tradition and introduced two totally new iPhones: the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X. What's up with that? As cool as the iPhone X looks, the iPhone 8 is still a fantastic device.

All photos: Adam Clark Estes

Lead

iPhone 8

Price

$1079 and up

What is it?

A little bit better than an iPhone 7

Like

Wireless charging!

No Like

Seriously, it's really just slightly better than an iPhone 7

That in mind, you're probably reading this review to answer a two-part question: Should I buy an iPhone 8 now, or should I wait a couple months for the iPhone X? Here's my answer: It's complicated.

The iPhone X and its edge-to-edge screen was the star of the show a couple weeks ago, but that hype shouldn't belie the fact that the slightly redesigned iPhone 8 is an impressive piece of hardware that offers most of the same features -- for a lot less money. And after spending a week with the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, I realise that the cheaper phones are going to be perfect for a ton of people.

The basics

If you saw an iPhone 8 on the street, you'd probably think it was an iPhone 7. The phone's overall design is the same, but on the outside, you'll notice that the iPhone 8 has a glass back instead of a metal one. It almost just looks like it's been painted with a glossy lacquer, like nail polish.

The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus look just like their iPhone 7 counterparts from the front.

The differences between the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 8 are otherwise less visible. According to Apple, the iPhone 8 is built with "the most durable glass ever in a smartphone." (Some stress tests suggest that the improvement is marginal, and the iPhone 8 glass can still scratch and shatter.) The Retina display itself also features something called True Tone technology which adjusts the screen's white balance in different environments. This feature is very noticeable when looking at the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 7 side-by-side, and I believe it is easier on the eyes.

The iPhone 8 camera is improved with a bigger 12-megapixel camera as well as a better flash and better optical image stabilisation. The iPhone 8 Plus has a new software feature in beta called Portrait Lighting, a gimmick in my opinion, but a fun one.

The processor -- and this is neat -- is a new six-core A11 Bionic chip that's optimised for photography and augmented reality apps.

Finally, the iPhone 8 has Qi wireless charging.

The white and silver iPhone 8 kind of looks like a ghost, but check out that fancier flash module.

The day-to-day

Most people use their phones for a lot of simple things and a handful of complex ones. You probably text a lot, check your email, and make actual phone calls. (Quick note: Apple has admitted that there's a problem with crackling noise when taking calls through the earpiece, but a fix is on the way.) You probably use fairly basic apps for stuff like social media, banking, or reading the news. You take photos and the occasional video. And you might play some games that require some heavy-lifting on the processor's part.

If you're currently using an iPhone 7 or any recent flagship Android, you probably won't notice much of a difference in how the iPhone 8 handles these day-to-day tasks. But at certain times of day, usually when I was playing Sim City, it's obvious that the A11 Bionic processor in the iPhone 8 is a snarling beast of a chip. The Sim City app itself loads twice as fast on the iPhone 8 than it does on my old iPhone 7. The gameplay is also smooth on the newer device, whereas I'm used to annoying stutters when moving around my sad, fictional metropolis on an iPhone 7.

The new gold colour is more of peach and copper combo, but it's a pleasing combo.

What's really new is augmented reality, and this is where the A11 Bionic processor should really matter. Tinkering around with the limited number of AR games currently in the App Store is fun as hell on the iPhone 8. The Machines, that game we saw on stage at the iPhone event, is brilliantly complex and realistic. It transformed my living room into a futuristic battlefield almost instantaneously, and the gameplay was just as smooth as my old standby, Sim City, on the iPhone 8. Similarly, Monster Park, Giphy, and IKEA Place all offered the best AR experiences I've ever had with no lag at all.

The only thing is, these AR games performed pretty well on my iPhone 7 as well. This is likely due, in part, to Apple building great software in iOS 11 to offer great AR games on as many devices as possible, regardless of their specs. Generally, though, Apple says that the improved performance in the A11 Bionic chip will make AR apps more stable and render richer details. And the new A11 Bionic chip (left) did smoke the A10 Fusion chip (right) in our benchmark tests.

The camera

The curved edges on the new glass back make it seem more like a finish than a component of the phone.

Another barely noticeable upgrade on the iPhone 8 is the camera. Like the iPhone 7, the iPhone 8 features a 12-megapixel, f/1.8 aperture camera. The specs for both models are identical on Apple's website. In fact, the only difference in the specs for the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus is the addition of the Portrait Lighting mode -- which is still in beta, by the way -- for the iPhone 8 Plus. However, the teardown from iFixit shows that Apple does include a slightly larger sensor in the iPhone 8 series. This means deeper pixels and richer colours as well as better low light performance. The teardown also revealed four magnets in the camera that go towards improved optical image stabilisation. Otherwise, the new camera leans on the A11 Bionic chip for better image processing.

While it's nice that Apple did some hardware and software upgrades for the iPhone 8 camera, most people probably won't notice the difference in their photos. I took a series of identical shots with the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 in a variety of settings (sunny day, cloudy day, low light, total darkness), and even as someone trained to spot improved image quality, I have to squint and turn my head to see the difference between the two generations of iPhone cameras. The difference does exist. But boy, oh boy, is it specific to certain situations.

All of the photos below were taken at the same time with both the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 7 cameras. In brief, the iPhone 8 does indeed produce richer colours in certain situations. The new camera also performs slightly better in low light conditions. And that new flash is a lot better.

Sunny day

Check out the wider range of blues in the sky in the iPhone 8 image. Both offer amazing detail for a smartphone image.


Low light

See how those reds pop slightly more in the iPhone 8 image. Both look pretty good, though.

Cloudy

Again, the red is just a little bit redder in the iPhone 8 image, but both are pretty similar otherwise.


Dark

It's difficult to see, but there's some noise in the darkest parts of the iPhone 7 Plus image that's not there in the iPhone 8 Plus image.


Flash

Thanks to a new double exposure feature, the flash in the iPhone 8 Plus captures details in the background that the iPhone 7 Plus flash washes out.


Zoom

See earlier comment about the reds popping more. Otherwise, the optical zoom performance is the same.


Bokeh

I don't see any evidence of Bokeh artifacts, though I do see some reds popping!


Portrait

There's some bluer blues in the sky on the left, but the portraits otherwise look identical on both phones. The center image is taken with the Studio Lighting option in the Portrait Lighting mode.

If we're just talking about image quality difference between the last generation of iPhone and this one -- I can't see them. I can slightly see some improvements in the flash, but the flash is the component of the camera I use the least, so I don't really care.

Wireless charging: The unexpected winner

You ready for this? You're about to read a series of words I didn't think I would write. And I'm humbled to be writing them.

The best thing about the iPhone 8 is… wireless charging.

In fact, I would argue that it's almost worth the price of an upgrade for lazy bums like me. I should also add that I expected to be thoroughly unimpressed by the newfound ability to slap an iPhone on a wireless charging pad and top up the battery. Android phones have done this for years! It's not that hard to plug in a charger! Wireless charging is, however, incredibly convenient, if you've got the right set up.

Here's a closer look at that copper tone versus the classic silver.

My charging habits are pretty routine, which is largely why I thought wireless charging would be a moot feature. I plug in my phone at bed time. I unplug it in the morning. If it gets low, I plug it in at my office. Now that overnight charge is easy: plug in the phone, unplug it when I wake up. Have I reached for my phone in the middle of the night and forgotten that it's plugged in and knocked a glass of water onto the floor causing shattering and chaos. Yes, I have. But for the most part, that's not the issue. Having a wireless charging pad at my office is a game changer. I can plop my iPhone on the pad while I'm at my desk, grab it to run to a meeting, come back, plop, repeat until charged.

Who should buy the iPhone 8?

By now, it should be obvious that I like the iPhone 8. I like it slightly more than my iPhone 7, and I like it a lot more than my old iPhone 6. So here's the rundown of what I'd do if I were you and considering buying a new iPhone.

If you want the iPhone X, wait six weeks and buy it. Good luck with that, too, because there will almost surely be shortages. It will also cost you at least $1579.

I'm Going To Buy The iPhone X, And I Hate Myself For It

Read more

If you have an iPhone 7, and you like it -- and it works -- you don't need the iPhone 8. You might want it, and if you can't help yourself, you might buy the iPhone 8. But you don't need it. Aside from wireless charging, your old iPhone 7 does everything almost as well as the iPhone 8. Wait for the iPhone 9 or whatever Apple's going to release next year.

The iPhone 8 and its glass back feel a lot like the jet black iPhone 7.

If you have an iPhone 6 or older, you should want the iPhone 8. The new design, improved camera, more powerful processor, as well as the addition of wireless charging will rock your world. Depending on how long you've had your old device and how much your battery has crapped out, the improved battery life will change your life, too. The iPhone 8 clocked almost 13 hours of video playback in our tests, and iPhone 8 Plus got slightly more.

More than anything, though, the iPhone 8 is a good way to future proof your phone life for a couple years. Better devices will obviously hit the market, but the iPhone 8 is as good as they get right now. At least it is for the next six weeks, when the iPhone X starts to ship.


Comments

    Biggest question on my mind is: what will the successor to the iPhone 9 be called?

    Either Apple's numbering scheme is going to face some challenges, or the iPhone 8/9 line is going to be short lived and succeeded by the iPhone X line.

    It's like "the new iPad" saga all over again.

      It's not an encouraging sign for apple that the biggest question people have about their latest phone is what the next one is called!

      the iphone 9 is the iphone X (x is roman for 10)

      The iphone 8 isnt a bad device, but it isnt a hugely exciting step up from the iPhone 7.

      I think a lot of people are sick of apple whipping it out and wiping smegma all over their faces. This arrogance is beginning to show with slowing phone sales and crashing ipad sales.

        I thought ipad sales were crashing because people don’t update their tablets nearly as often as they do their mobiles..?

        Have I missed some news that you saw? Can I have the link please?

        I disagree. I think sales are going down because people are realising that all the hype from all manufacturers is just that hype. It is a PHONE. It makes calls, does messaging, takes the odd photo, performs the odd internet search and performs the odd app task. The rest of the time it is your pocket/bag doing nothing. Not many people need a life changing magical device that makes you happy as you are running along the beach eating ethical grass fed lettuce sipping on soy milk coffee.

        The top brand phones last easily 3 to 4 years. Why get something new, which i might add is only getting performance updates, when the tasks the older device is performing is basically the same as the newer device.

          because people want new and shiny and dont want to miss out (FOMO marketing, google it)

          also because companies like Apple have shareholders to appease

            I understand why. My comment was about why the market is reducing. Of course any public company has shareholders to appease. That is why they are constantly producing incremental updates which are basically performance enhancements. Faster chips, more pixel dense screens, better camera and perhaps faster storage. The whole industry is marketing. If they were honest in their presentation no one would update as often as they do. Can you imagine, the presentation would go for 10 minutes max.

            "The latest phone, it is way faster. Look at it....just like the last one. Magical. Buy it."

      There is no iphone 9, instead Apple launched to overhyped (and overpriced) iPhone X (X is the roman numeral that denotes 10)

    Probably iPhone 9

    Edit: sorry, this is in reply to lee

    Last edited 02/10/17 2:06 pm

      And the successor to the iPhone 9 will be the iPhone 10 ... er, X?

        Honestly, I don’t see a problem with the phone after the 9 to be iPhone 10. It’s different to iPhone X.

        I’d imagine it would be annoying for consumers: ‘I have an iPhone 10 for sale’ ‘is the the X or the actual 10?’

        But then there was an original Xbox and the latest Xbox is the Xbox one, that was after Xbox 360 which was Xbox 2. So I don’t think the companies really care if it makes complete sense.

          I think they have to keep naming conventions simple for their primary market - the united states of dumbfuckistan

    Latest story is the batteries in the iPhone 8 and 8 plus have been swelling during recharging so much that they're popping the iPhone's apart. Also iOS 11 have been draining batteries on iPhone 6's and 7's in half the time they used to last.

      I found reports of two batteries possibly swelling, which is being investigated by Apple, but can’t seem to find any other stories.

      Are there more? Is it really that rare for 2 out of millions of a product to be defective, or can we expect somewhere in the region of 10-15% failure rate being reported in the near future?

        Oh yeah, it's only been three phones I think so far. We'll find out if it becomes commonish when the phone gets released to the rest of the world but right now the three seem to be the only ones so far.

        Bear in mind it is very early days for this phone yet, there could be a great increase in the number of swelling battery reports as the batteries age a little. Could be another Note 7 disaster, or they may be isolated incidents, who knows at this stage.

          I have read that the swelling is a safety feature incorporated into all modern batteries used in consumer goods, so it could be a case of the technology doing as it should.

          The Note has a 1 in 20,000 failure rate. So far there are 2 out of millions of swollen iPhone batteries

            2 that we know of. I doubt Apple would be reporting it for the average customer that just takes it to the store and doesn't make a big deal about it.

              Yes, but the nature of humans these days is to make a big deal out of everything, so a post to 6 different types to social media when something goes wrong is inevitable...

              There’s no way people wouldn’t whine about issues online.

                I disagree. I sold mobiles to Telstra business customers. They were 99% iPhone customers and many would winge to Telstra or Apple if something went wrong but wouldn't bother posting on social media about it. I'm the same I probably wouldn't take to social media if I had a problem with a product especially if the fault was rectified.

                  Fair point, business customers have to deal with social media differently, I reckon.

                  You’re average joe, they type who travels to morbid scenes and takes selfies with burning buildings in the background, they’re who I am referring too.

                  Absolutely. I still think they're in the minority though. A lot of people are too proud of their choices to admit they bought a dud. Especially Apple customers.

      Also, the report from Japan was a phone that turned up with the battery already swollen and the screen detached from the device, which fails t correlate with your statement that the phone fault was due to recharging.

      Every phone Apple launches has faults... the question is how will Apple address these faults. Their response to touch screen disease seems to have been largely forgotten but was breath-takingly arrogant

    Still not sure why anyone would get an 8 instead of a Samsung S8?

    The 8 looks the same as 2014's 6 and has the same HD ready 4.7" screen.

    Meanwhile the Samsung now has a QHD 5.8" screen, it's about the same size and price, and if you're upgrading from the 2014 S5 it looks completely different and infinitely more futuristic.

    "Better devices will obviously hit the market, but the iPhone 8 is as good as they get right now."

    Curious to know how much were you paid to make this comment? A HD ready screen was below par in 2013, how can you call this phone the best available right now??

    Last edited 02/10/17 6:43 pm

      Agree, the only phones people should be considering is iPhone X, Samsung S8/S8+/Note8 and the LG V30. Once you have used a phone with 80+% Screen to body ratio, it makes all others look terrible.

        Yep although reading this 'review' there's no mention of Samsung, LG, even Google Pixel with the world's best smartphone camera! Reads more like an advertorial!

          And I'm replacing my pixel XL with the IPhone X. Full screen display, wireless charging and Nvme storage instead of NAND Flash is what sells me. The pixel XL 2 leaks leave a lot to be desired and do not impress me, and the new iPhone keyboard on my ipad has really sold me as keyboard to me has always been the biggest limitation for iOS

            Yeah my Samsung keyboard is garbage too, autocorrect is awful, I think the best one I've ever used was the default swipe keyboard on Windows Phone!

            I wouldn't get too excited about the iPhone wireless charger. It works on half power compared to all the other wireless chargers so if you use it, you'll be waiting a long long time for it to charge the phone.

              Compared to the issues with my pixel XL I'm sure I'll be fine. Phone refuses to charge unless using a wireless charging pad on the phone I bought that locks into usb type C, and takes about 9 hours for a full charge. Did this within a month of purchase and I've had to deal with it ever since. Not to mention the shitty battery life my old z3 compact lasted longer with its minuscule battery.

              Yeah software wise thr pixel impressed me. Hardware wise is another story and after my issues with my note 7 and pixel XL I'm going back to Apple for first time since the 5c, the only iPhone ive owned.
              Love my ipad mini 2 though

                Yeah, kind of agree with you on Google phones. I had the Google xl (don't know if it was a pixel ) and i returned it after two days. Fucking hated that thing.

          even Google Pixel with the world's best smartphone camera

          Reads more like an advertorial!

          It's like a black fly in your Chardonnay.

      Why? Because of iOS, and the fact that the iPhone 8 is much faster than the latest Samsung phones.

        Sure it's faster but at the speeds phones work at it's not even noticeable.

        A HD ready phone is noticeable these days, you get a much better experience with FHD and the design of the 8 means huge bezels and barely any screen. It's a design that hasn't changed in 3 years.

        When i spend $1000+ on a phone i want it to be exciting and the best there is. This wouldn't be the best 3 years ago and looks ancient now.

          When one phone is up to twice as fast as another, it is noticeable.

          The iPhone 8 is easily the best phone on the market. The X will be even better.

          People have always complained that Apple puts looks over functionality.
          And yet when it goes the other way, they still complain.

            I've seen a OnePlus 5 in action, it loads apps almost instantly. Any difference would be in the order of milliseconds and definitely not noticeable. You've just swallowed an apple marketing pamphlet and are regurgitating its nonsense.

            The 8 isn't the best phone on the market, the 8 plus is miles better. FHD screen, dual lens camera, decent battery size. The 8 is a joke in comparison.

            Ok so we're both agreed they haven't considered looks in this release. Where's the functionality though? The reason the iphone gets such high numbers in benchmarks is because the software has very limited functionality. It is basically an app draw. Android is infinitely more customisable, I would rather my apps take 1 millisecond longer to load but get a fully featured operating system. Hell the latest Samsung phones can be plugged into a dock with a keyboard, mouse and monitor and used as a PC!

            So there you go, tired 3 year old design, 4 year old screen resolution, and people like you still rave about it like it's the dawning of a new age in phones!

            bullshit. The iphone might be fast, no one debaters that but in real world conditions this is not noticeable at all.

      Personally, I’ve tried Android on various devices, and use it for work, and I prefer the iOS experience. Not because it’s Apple, but because I like how it works.

      Therefore, i will not consider an S8, nor any other android phone, but will continue to try out my friends handsets to see if it’s ever worth the switch.

      For the “but customisation!” group, I have exactly one friend who has done any customisation to his android device that didn’t involve changing the skin...

        Would you get the 8 though? The 8 plus or X i can see as good phones but the 8 seems really neglected to me and very overpriced for the specs.

        Customisation doesn't mean rooting or anything extremely complicated, ive got simple widgets on my home screen like total steps, weather, countdown timers, as far as I'm aware you can't do that on ios?

        Last edited 03/10/17 7:51 pm

          I would never have gotten the 8, my contract is up this month, just in time for the X preorders.

          I’d kill for an 8+ sized X though. That’d be Ace of Base.

          I have widgets left of my home screen (aka swipe right to access. Has widget for everything I want, workflow app being the most important!

          Bank balance, notes, reminders, calendar, etc etc.

          Aside from display and battery, there's no difference between the 8 and 8 plus, and then the X as well has the different security thing but otherwise its all the SoC. Really the difference is form factor, making if you prefer smaller the 8 just as appealing as the X.

            Aside from display and battery

            In my opinion, once you put a smartphone's screen and battery life aside, there's barely anything left! You sound very nonchalant about things that are most people's deal breakers.

            making if you prefer smaller the 8 just as appealing as the X

            The 8 and X are virtually the same size, not sure who would prefer a phone that is the same physical size but has a 4.7" screen instead of a 5.8" one? In my opinion the 8 looks about 5 years older than the X, I would find it much less appealing than the X.

              To be fair, there's bugger all differences between most phones these days

              The 8 plus and ☓ are basically the same, in fact the X is slightly smaller.

              I find the biggest difference between phones these days is mostly cosmetics, I myself am getting the X to replace my Pixel XL, but to someone like my housemate who doesn't care about the looks whenever she upgrades just usability to her, and without using a edge to edge style display before would probably upgrade to the 8,as it gets all the hardware improvements of the X internally, in a body and shape she's comfortable with likes. And wouldn't be the only person to think like that.

              Was tempted by the Nokia 8 a little as well but have decided against it lol.

                I think you'll love the X, it looks pretty cool!

                I'd personally buy an S8 instead as it's a few hundred bucks cheaper and I don't mind Android but everyone's different!

                  I like to change things up a lot, and it's been 3 years since my last iPhone, being a 5c, in that time I've had Android blackberry and Windows phone, there's really bugger all difference these days, so my opinion is get what you like. The note 7 ignoring how little I had it for has been my favourite phone so far so I'll reckon you'll like the s8 fairly well.

        That doesn't make sense. When you get a new Android phone you set it up exactly how you want from the start unlike with iPhones where it just spews your apps all over the home screen.

      each to their own. Personally I find using an Apple device like being tipped upside down and shaken until all the coins are emptied out of my pockets.

    Seemingly unknown to most users, wireless charging can be added easily, quickly & cheaply to most brands & models of handheld devices. The QI receiver pad plugs into the charging socket. The pad can be protected from removal using a thin case, or strong adhesive tape.

      yes because spending a thousand dollars or more on a phone to slather it with tape is such a good idea.

      Nice to see Apple joining the wireless charging party - it only took them 4 years after everyone else.

      I love how they took Qi charging technology and wrapped it in Apple marketing bullshittery.

        And reduced the power output to half of what other wireless chargers put out. It's the Apple way. Get people to buy a semi working model and then try get them to buy a full working model a year later.

    buy a new iphone, its slightly better, name any other product u would buy thats slightly better. i predict apple WILL be broke in five years, theyve got nothing else to add while theyve taught the chinese to make cheaper phones themselves. apple is just a status symbol and a phone for mum and dads.

      You have listed the reason why Apple won’t be broke in 5 years and will still be the most profitable company in the world.

      Everyone else in the industry is busy selling phones while Apple is selling what most of the world is look for, "a status symbol” or popularity with a price tag. They are a marketing behemoth carefully managing their image to shape the desirability of their products.

      They have taken the philosophy of Luxury Hand bags or Jewellery. There is very little to physically distinguish between the products but the public perception and popularity couldn’t be more different.

    Best thing about this phone's release is the wireless charging, even though pre-Microsoft Nokia and others had it for years. Now the other manufacturers will have to consider making it standard.

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