Apple iPhone 8 full review
In September and October of 2017 Apple launched a new batch of smartphones, including the iPhone X (which got most of the headlines) and the iPhone 8 (which for many people is actually the better option). The tech community has a short memory, but did these new products really put 2016's iPhone 7 in the shade? Did it become a bad phone overnight? Not so fast.
In this article we put the new iPhone 8 up against the iPhone 7 in a head-to-head comparison, weighing up the two devices' design, features, specs and prices, to help you decide which is the right phone for you. (For our thoughts on the next generation of handsets that came along in late 2018, see our iPhone XS review, our iPhone XS Max review and our iPhone XR review - but these are far more expensive options.)
iPhone 8 vs iPhone 7: At a glance
We've broken down the main specs and features of the iPhone 8 and iPhone 7 in the table below, but you can continue reading for a more in-depth comparison of the specs and features to find out which is best for you.
|iPhone 8||iPhone 7|
|iOS||iOS 11||iOS 11 update available|
|Colours||Silver, Gold, Space Grey, Red||Silver, Gold, Rose Gold, Black, Jet Black|
|Display||4.7in, 1334x750 IPS, True Tone, 326ppi||4.7in, 1334x750 IPS, 326ppi|
|Processor||Apple A11 Bionic, M11 co-processor||A10 Fusion, M10 co-processor|
|Rear camera||12MP, f/1.8 with OIS||12Mp, f/1.8 with OIS|
|Front camera||7Mp, f/2.2||7Mp, f/2.2|
|Price||£599/£749 ($599/$749)||£449/£549 ($449/$549)|
|Buy SIM-free||From Apple||From Apple|
|Buy on contract||From Carphone Warehouse||From Carphone Warehouse|
While the iPhone X is a fairly radical redesign, broadly speaking the iPhone 8 has the same chassis design as the iPhone 7 - and the iPhone 6s and 6 before it. It's a four-year-old design: a classic, but one that's starting to show its age.
However, a few tweaks have been added over the years, and this year's tweak may be the most significant: the iPhone 8 features a glass front and back, which means it's compatible with wireless charging accessories. It also gives the smartphone a more 'premium' look compared to aluminium... although there have been some worries about its durability. (We haven't noticed any more scratches than normal, but your mileage may vary.)
Apple claims the glass is custom-made with a "50 percent deeper strengthening layer", and points to the introduction of a steel substructure alongside the 7000 Series aluminium band to provide extra frame reinforcement. But subjectively it seems undeniable that the new handsets are at least a little less robust than their predecessors, and we would recommend the use of a case.
Other than issues with breakage, this change also means the iPhone 8 is fractionally bigger than the iPhone 7 at 138.4mm x 67.3mm x 7.3mm (compared to 138.3mm x 67.1mm x 7.1mm) and 10g heavier at 148g.
Neither the iPhone 7 nor the 8 have a headphone port; and they both have customisable solid-state Home buttons that buzz to simulate a click, rather than actually clicking downwards, and should in theory be less likely to malfunction than older-style Home buttons.
It's certainly true that we've not had any problems with the new buttons. But it should be added that the epidemic of faulty Home buttons that we saw around the iPhone 5 era had largely been solved before the non-clicking buttons came along.
If you're looking for colour options the iPhone 7 is the better choice. That phone comes in five colours: silver, gold, Rose Gold, black and Jet Black. (It used to come in Product Red, too, but that's since been discontinued.)
The iPhone 8 is only available in (a seemingly slightly pinker) gold, silver and Space Grey - and as of April 2018, a Product Red version has returned.
The iPhone 8 doesn't get Face ID, but it does get one major new flagship feature.
As mentioned above, the iPhone 8 (and all other 2017-vintage iPhones) have glass-back designs and because of this are compatible with wireless charging accessories.
At launch the iPhone 8's wireless charging capabilities were capped at 5W, which meant it was no faster than the wired charger that was bundled with it (and in practice we found it very slightly slower, presumably because of inefficiencies with the third-party wireless charging pad we were using). However, the iOS 11.2 update raised the cap to a faster 7.5W - when using compatible accessories.
The iPhone 8 uses Qi, so any accessories certified with this standard should work with it.
There are some important changes on the inside, with the iPhone 8 gaining a faster processor chip, a True Tone display, improved 4K and slo-mo video support, more advanced Bluetooth and twice the storage.
- iPhone 8: A11 Bionic chipset, 64bit, with M11 motion coprocessor. Claimed to be 70 percent faster than...
- iPhone 7: A10 Fusion chip, 64bit, with M10 motion coprocessor
- iPhone 8: 64GB or 256GB
- iPhone 7: 32GB or 128GB
- iPhone 8: 1334x750-pixel resolution at 326 ppi, True Tone
- iPhone 7: 1334x750-pixel resolution at 326 ppi
- iPhone 8: 12Mp, f/1.8, optical image stabilisation, digital zoom up to 5x, flash, 4K at up to 60fps, slo-mo video at 1080p up to 240fps
- iPhone 7: 12Mp, f/1.8, optical image stabilisation, digital zoom up to 5x, flash, 4K at 30fps, slo-mo video at 1080p and 120fps (or 720p and 240fps)
- iPhone 8: 7Mp, f/2.2, Retina Flash, 1080p video
- iPhone 7: 7Mp, f/2.2, Retina Flash, 1080p video
The 7 and 8 have the same claimed battery lives: up to 14 hours talk time, up to 12 hours of internet use and up to 40 hours of wireless audio playback. Our subjective tests support this. The iPhone 8 won't last days on a single charge, but we've found it to last all day with average use.
Unlike the 7, the iPhone 8 offers compatibility with Qi-standard wireless chargers, as well as fast charging: Apple says it can charge up to 50 percent in 30 minutes.
- iPhone 8: 802.11ac Wi‑Fi with MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0
- iPhone 7: 802.11ac Wi‑Fi with MIMO, Bluetooth 4.2
- iPhone 8: 138.4mm x 67.3mm x 7.3mm; 148g
- iPhone 7: 138.3mm x 67.1mm x 7.1mm; 138g
Unsurprisingly the iPhone 7 - which is still on sale, even after the launch of 2018's iPhone XS - is a cheaper option than the younger 8. Here are the prices:
- iPhone 8 (64GB): £599/$599
- iPhone 8 (256GB): £749/$749
- iPhone 7 (32GB): £449/$449
- iPhone 7 (128GB): £549/$549