Apple iPhone 8 Review - by Nate Lanxon and Ian Morris
Apple’s iPhone 8 is an unusual release for two reasons: based on Apple’s previous product cycle for its phones, this model should be called the iPhone 7s. Instead, Apple skipped the S moniker and jumped straight to 8. But secondly, both models were revealed alongside a brand new flagship, the iPhone 10, meaning the iPhone 9 was leapfrogged in favour of being able to release a revolutionary product ten years after the product’s birth.
Apple would likely say that the advances made for the iPhone 10 were so great it warranted a double jump of numerals anyway — it’s a strategy the old media player Winamp employed when it jumped from version 3 to version 5 in 2003.
The iPhone 8 though is different from previous ’S’ year phones in that it takes on a new type of all-glass design, not seen since the iPhone 4s. It comes with a very slight increase in weight, but to us we actually like that. The glass finish is beautiful and smooth although you’d be wise to keep it in a case for two reasons: one, avoiding breakages of course, but two, like all glass backed phones it has a habit of sliding over the edge of soft surfaces like a sofa. A small gripe perhaps, but one worth mentioning. The upside is that you’ll find you hand and fingers get more grip on the chassis compared to the iPhone 7, which felt much more like it could slip from your grasp to a shattered demise on the earth.
The headline feature of these phones always tends to be the camera, which continues to impress. It’s without question one of the best cameras on the market, and over the iPhone 7 Plus seems to handle low light environments better, with less noise and better colours. Like the iPhone 7 there are times though that it can over-expose a scene in our testing, which can be solved by tapping on what you want the phone to focus on. The always-on HDR feature produces fantastic results and once again shows us that the point-and-shoot pocket camera is as good as dead if you’ve got an iPhone in the other pocket.
The new portrait mode adds an advanced visual effect to pictures, which in the most extreme example can turn your subject into a black-and-white model, complete with black background, beautiful soft edges and flattering skin. It works well a lot of the time, but as with the previous basic portrait function it has some quirks that need working out - sometimes edges aren’t cleanly cut, leading to a bit of background appearing between your subject and the black effect that surrounds them. It’s a feature in beta though and will likely be improved.
Battery life is also good. We’ve gone a full day without needing a charge with average workday use, and lighter use would certainly allow the phone to go more than a day. The wireless charging feature, which involves placing the phone on a pad that’s plugged into the mains instead of plugging a cable into the phone, is an exercise in fantastic convenience. Apple has shown it can do wireless charging better than any of its competitors and it sets an example of how this sort of technology can be executed well. This might be the first example of wireless charging that makes us excited about the technology’s future. It wouldn’t surprise us if in a year’s time, as venues start baking charging pads into bars and coffee tables, we start seeing apps that show you where your nearest wireless charging point is, much like we have now for discovering public Wi-Fi hotspots.
Elsewhere Apple has tweaked an already solid phone. It’s enormously powerful, handling any high-end app and game with ease. The graphics processor, which Apple has developed itself for the first time here, is particularly good and largely a catalyst in waiting for developers to make augmented reality gaming the hot new thing in showing of your new phone to friends in the pub. We haven’t seen much use of this tech yet, but if Apple has its way, we’ll be seeing a lot more of it soon. The company has released its ARKit framework to make the production of AR apps and games more seamless for a developer, and the iPhone 8’s power is going to be ready for it when the time comes.
Overall, it’s definitely a model to consider upgrading to from anything other than an iPhone 7. But sadly it may feel like the poor man’s iPhone 10 when that comes out, which is both a shame because of how good a phone the iPhone 8 is, as well as weird that a phone that starts at 800 quid can be designated as something a poor person would be able to buy in the first place.
The iPhone 8 gets the seal of approval from Ian and Nate.