iPhone 8 vs iPhone 8 Plus
On 12 September Apple announced three new smartphones for 2017. The iPhone X got most of the headlines, but the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, which are cheaper, available to buy right now and equipped with Home buttons, will actually be the more appealing option for many.
In this article we compare these two less heralded but worthy devices, weighing up the design, features, specs and pricing of the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus to help you decide which is the better option for you.
iPhone 8 vs iPhone 8 Plus: At a glance
We talk about the differences between the two iPhones in depth in this article, but if you're looking for a really quick comparison we've created a table to show you the major differences at a glance.
|iPhone 8||iPhone 8 Plus|
|Capacity||64GB; 256GB||64GB; 256GB|
|Price||£699 ($699); £849 ($849)||£799 ($799); £949 ($949)|
|Cameras||Single lens 12Mp||Dual-lens 12Mp, Portrait Mode|
|Battery life||14 hours talk time||21 hours talk time|
||From Apple||From Apple|
|Buy on contract||From Carphone Warehouse||From Carphone Warehouse|
Design & build quality
The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus have essentially the same chassis design as the iPhone 7, and the 6s and 6 before it. The broad strokes of this design have been with us for three years now, and some may feel it's starting to show its age.
There is one significant tweak to the design this year, though: the 8 and 8 Plus feature a glass front and back, and (because it is difficult to charge through a metal chassis) this has enabled Apple to add wireless charging compatibility. Any Qi-certified wireless accessories should be able to work with the new phones.
The glass also gives the smartphone a more 'premium' look compared to aluminium. The downside is that customers are going to worry about it shattering. Apple claims it's custom-made with a "50 percent deeper strengthening layer" and a steel substructure, but we won't know how robust these devices are until they've been in use for a few months.
The 8 and 8 Plus both have a Home button (unlike the iPhone X); like on the 7 and 7 Plus, this is a solid-state button that simulates a click using a small buzzing motor rather than actually clicking downwards, which in theory should make it less prone to malfunction.
Also like their predecessors, neither the 8 nor the 8 Plus has a headphone port. They come with Lightning-based EarPods, and a 3.5mm adaptor for traditional headphones.
There's a surprising lack of colour diversity in the 2017 iPhone range. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus both come in just three finishes: silver, gold and Space Grey. However there is also now a (PRODUCT)RED version to spice things up.
This compares to the six colour options offered with the 7 and 7 Plus: silver, gold, Rose Gold, black, Jet Black and Product Red. (Note, however, that Product Red was added several months after launch and has since been discontinued - the red iPhone 8 replaces it.)
Mind you, the iPhone X is available in even fewer colour finishes: just silver and Space Grey.
The 8-generation handsets both add wireless charging, but only one gets Portrait Mode.
As mentioned above, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus have glass-back designs and because of this are able to be compatible with wireless charging accessories.
They use Qi, so any accessories certified with this standard should work with the new phones.
The iPhone 8 Plus, like the 7 Plus before it, has a dual-lens rear-facing camera, combining a wide-angle and a telephoto lens.
Aside from giving you a 2x optical zoom, this means you can use Portrait Mode, an arty, SLR-style feature that keeps the subject of a photo in focus while blurring out the background.
The 8-generation handsets feature a number of upgrades from the 2016 phones: a faster processor chip, a True Tone display, improved 4K and slo-mo video support, more advanced Bluetooth and twice the storage. But there are still more important differences between the two 2017 models.
The 8 Plus is bigger and heavier, and features a dual-lens camera, a bigger battery and a larger and sharper screen.
Let's look at the specs in more depth.
- iPhone 8: A11 Bionic chipset, 64bit, with M11 motion coprocessor
- iPhone 8 Plus: A11 Bionic chipset, 64bit, with M11 motion coprocessor
- iPhone 8: 64GB or 256GB
- iPhone 8 Plus: 64GB or 256GB
- iPhone 8: 4.7in (1334 x 750, 326ppi) Retina HD display, 1,400:1 contrast ratio, 625 cd/m2 max brightness, True Tone, 3D Touch
- iPhone 8 Plus: 5.5in (1920 x 1080, 401ppi) Retina HD display, 1,300:1 contrast ratio, 625 cd/m2 max brightness, True Tone, 3D Touch
- 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 8 Plus: 12Mp dual lens camera, f/1.8 (wide angle) and f/2.8 (telephoto), optical image stabilisation, optical zoom unto 2x and digital zoom up to 10x, flash, 4K at up to 60fps, slo-mo video at 1080p up to 240fps, Portrait Mode, Portrait Lighting (beta)
- iPhone 8: 7Mp, f/2.2, Retina Flash, 1080p video
- iPhone 8 Plus: 7Mp, f/2.2, Retina Flash, 1080p video
Apple hasn't released tech specs of the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus battery units, but says each model should last "about the same" as its 7-generation equivalent.
That means considerably more battery life for the 8 Plus, which has a claimed life of up to 21 hours for talk time and 13 hours of internet use. The 8 is advertised at 14 hours of talk time and 12 hours of internet use.
As well as the wireless charging discussed under new features, both devices are also advertised as offering fast charging: "up to 50 percent charge in 30 minutes". There's some confusion over the the technical specifications of this process (and since the 8 Plus has a larger battery, it seems logical to expect that the 8 would achieve a higher percentage in 30 minutes even under fast-charge conditions), but we will fill you in as we learn more.
- iPhone 8: 802.11ac Wi‑Fi with MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0
- iPhone 8 Plus: 802.11ac Wi‑Fi with MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0
- iPhone 8: 138.4mm x 67.3mm x 7.3mm; 148g
- iPhone 8 Plus: 158.4mm x 78.1mm x 7.5mm; 202g
The 8 and 8 Plus were announced on 12 Sept and went on sale on 22 Sept.
- iPhone 8 (64GB): £699
- iPhone 8 (256GB): £849
- iPhone 8 Plus (64GB): £799
- iPhone 8 Plus (256GB): £949
The 8 Plus has a bigger, sharper screen (401 pixels per inch versus 326), and a bigger battery - estimated talk time battery life is 50 percent higher than the 8. It also gets a dual-lens camera on the rear, which among other things gives you access to Portrait Mode (and the new Portrait Lightning features, currently in beta) and a 2x optical zoom.
The 8 is more portable and cheaper - £100 cheaper at each storage tier.
For our wallets and pockets the 8 seems like a more appealing option. But keen gamers and on-the-go video watchers will appreciate the 8 Plus's extra screen space (and extra screen sharpness), while photographers may want the option to take bokeh portraits without lugging around their DSLR.
Remember that if price is a priority, the previous two generations of iPhones are still on Apple's website - although we're not sure how much longer the company will keep the 6s up there once the iPhone X has come out. The 6s (and 6s Plus) are decent phones with excellent cameras, and the luddite audiophile may particularly like the fact that they have headphone ports.
And if you're really flush with cash and keen to have the latest thing, of course, wait a bit and order the iPhone X.