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.
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 realize that the cheaper phones are going to be perfect for a ton of people.
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 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 stabilization. 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 optimized for photography and augmented reality apps.