iPhone 8 preview

At a special event hosted in the Steve Jobs Theater at Apple’s new Spaceship campus in California, Tim Cook took to the stage and announced the iPhone 8 alongside the iPhone X, Apple TV 4K and Apple Watch Series 3.

The iPhone 8 is an incremental update to the hugely popular iPhone 7, offering wireless charging and improved camera tech. While we’re yet to go hands-on with the smartphone, here’s our preview of the iPhone 8.

iPhone 8: UK pricing and availability

The iPhone 8, unlike previous iterations of iPhone, is only available in two storage capacities: 64GB and 256GB. It’s also available in fewer colours, but that’s something we’ll come to in more detail below.

For those looking to buy the new iPhone 8 in the UK, it’ll cost you £699 for the 64GB variant, and £849 for the £256GB variant - for comparison, last year's iPhone 7 was made available for £599 with 32GB, and £699 for 128GB, double the storage of the iPhone 8.

As with previous launches, you can buy the iPhone 8 from the Apple Store and other third-party resellers. Those looking to buy the iPhone on contract should head to the likes of Carphone Warehouse, EE, Vodafone, O2 and Three.

You can find out more about how to get the best deal in our article about where to buy the iPhone 8. We also have this comparison of how the iPhone X compares to the iPhone 8

iPhone 8: Design and build

In terms of design, the iPhone 8 is what you’d expect from an ‘S’ upgrade. Why? The iPhone 8 sports a similar form factor to the iPhone 7 (and 6s, and 6) but with a handful of changes to make the phone competitive in 2017. So, while it’s slightly thicker than the iPhone 7 at 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3mm and 10g heavier at 148g, there’s a reason why.

The most noticeable change? The introduction of a glass rear, much like the design of the iPhone 4. It provides the smartphone with a much more premium look when compared to aluminium, but potential consumers are worried about how easily it’ll shatter.

Apple claims that the glass is custom-made with a “50 percent deeper strengthening layer”, but we’re not sure what this is compared to. There’s also the introduction of a steel substructure alongside the 7000 Series aluminium band to provide extra frame reinforcement. It won’t protect against all drops, but it should hopefully stop it shattering from less significant drops.

There’s also redesigned stereo speakers present on the iPhone 8, boasting a 25 percent boost in volume compared to the iPhone 7, along with deeper bass. With Apple making strides in augmented reality and spatial audio, should help improve the overall AR experience on iOS.

There’s also a difference when it comes to the available colour options. While the iPhone 7 was available in a range of colours, the iPhone 8 is limited to three: Gold, Silver and Space Grey. These are different shades than those in the past though, with the Gold variant looking particularly attractive to those of us at Macworld UK.

The different shades are, in part, thanks to the glass rear of the iPhone. It boasts a six-layer ink process that allows for a rich depth of colour present on all models of the iPhone 8, complimented by a colour-matched aluminium band that runs along the sides.

Oh, and the Home button is still present on the iPhone 8, unlike with the iPhone X. Still no headphone jack though!

iPhone 8: Features and spec

What makes the iPhone 8 so impressive? It’s more of an all-round improvement to the smartphone rather than featuring one killer feature.

Display

Let’s start with the display: it’s still a 4.7in Retina HD display with a sub FHD (1334 x 750) resolution, but now features True Tone technology. First introduced on the iPad Pro 9.7in in 2016, True Tone technology allows your iPhone to detect the ambient light in your settings and adjust the white balance of the display accordingly, to help provide a better and more comfortable viewing experience.

In addition to the True Tone display tech, the iPhone 8 display features a wider colour gamut for better colour reproduction, and dual-domain pixels for wider viewing angles. Of course, it also features the likes of 3D Touch and an oleophobic coating to resist smudges from your grubby mitts.

Processor

Moving beyond the display, the iPhone 8 features the most powerful mobile chipset designed by Apple to date.

It’s called the A11 Bionic chipset, and provides impressive gains in the performance department – but much more than that, too. It should help power high-end AR experiences, and the ‘neural engine’ should help power the facial recognition tech present on the high-end iPhone X.

The A11 Bionic chipset also features a second-generation Apple-designed performance controller that helps to provide great performance when playing games and using power-hungry apps without using too much battery power. It won’t make your iPhone last for days on end, but it’ll probably last a bit longer during intense gaming sessions.

We’ll be sure to put the A11 Bionic through its paces once we get our hands on an iPhone 8, so check back soon for a more in-depth look at what the upgraded chipset can do.

Wireless charging

Yes, you read that right. The real reason behind Apple’s decision to re-introduce the glass rear on the iPhone 8 was to include support for wireless charging. After years of fans asking the company to offer wireless charging on the iPhone, Apple has complied, and announced that (in un-Apple fashion) that it’d be compatible with Qi-certified wireless chargers.

That’s right, there’s no proprietary system like with the Apple Watch, meaning it’s compatible with the millions of Qi wireless chargers found around the world, from public places like McDonalds and Starbucks to those that you can buy online for use at home.

In fairness, Apple is due to release its own wireless charging mat with advanced wireless charging tech not seen by competitors, but it’s not due out until 2018.

Cameras

The camera has had a bump in spec too, although it’s not groundbreaking. The iPhone 8 features a single rear-facing 12Mp camera that features a larger, faster processor that should provide 0 shutter lag, and also perform better in low-light conditions. There’s also a new colour filter in the lens, along with ‘deeper pixels’ and Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) for both photo and video.

Apple also claims that the iPhone 8 camera has been designed specifically for use with AR. While Apple’s ARKit is compatible with a range of iOS devices, the camera featured on the iPhone 8 (along with the 8 Plus and X) should offer superior tracking capabilities, providing high quality AR experiences on iOS.

There’s also an upgrade in the video department: the iPhone 8 is the first smartphone to be able to record [email protected], an impressive feat. It has also upped the quality of the slo-mo mode, now offering [email protected], up from 120fps on the iPhone 7.

For more interesting additions in the camera department, take a look at the iPhone 8 Plus with its’ new Portrait Lighting Mode and more.

iPhone 8: Software

Of course, the iPhone 8 features Apple’s latest iteration of its mobile operating system, iOS 11. iOS 11 brings with it a number of new features, including the Files app and support for Apple’s ARKit, powering high-end augmented reality experiences on a range of compatible iPhones.

In fact, there’s far too much to mention here. If you want to find out more about the software, take a look at the latest iOS 11 news.

OUR VERDICT

The iPhone 8 looks impressive, but we'll reserve our judgement until we get our hands on a sample to review.

This preview will turn into a review once we've had a chance to look at the iPhone 8, so bookmark and check back for regular updates. 

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