Apple iPhone 8 full review
Apple announced three new iPhones at its special event on 12 September 2017: the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X (pronounced iPhone Ten). If you're thinking about upgrading your phone, you're probably wondering which new model will suit you best.
If you want a bigger screen, forget the 8: you will have to weigh up the high price of the iPhone X against the bigger and heavier handset of the iPhone 8 Plus. If you're not keen on the idea of a large device, on the hand, then you should be choosing between the 8 and the X. These two models are smaller and lighter than the Plus.
Alternatively, you may be excited by the new features of the iPhone X but wondering whether you really need to pay around £1,000, or if the iPhone 8 or 8 Plus will give you the features you want the most.
You can read our reviews of the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and the iPhone X, but in this article we will weigh up the differences between the three handsets to help you decide which one is best for you. Once you reach a decision, you can buy the iPhone 8 models or iPhone X, or peruse our roundup of the best iPhone deals.
iPhone X vs iPhone 8 at a glance
Let's start with a quick comparison of the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X. (We'll move on to a more in-depth look at the differences afterwards.)
|iPhone 8||iPhone 8 Plus||iPhone X|
|iOS||iOS 11||iOS 11||iOS 11|
|Colours||Gold, Silver, Space Grey, Red||Gold, Silver, Space Grey, Red||Silver, Space Grey|
|Display||4.7in Retina HD (1334x750, 326ppi) IPS||5.5in Retina HD (1920x1080, 401ppi) IPS||5.8in Super Retina Display (2436x1125, 458ppi) OLED|
|Processor||Apple A11 Bionic, M11 co-processor||Apple A11 Bionic, M11 co-processor||Apple A11 Bionic, M11 co-processor|
|Rear camera||12Mp, f/1.8, 5x digital zoom, quad-LED flash||12Mp wide-angle, f/1.8, OIS + 12Mp telephoto, f/2,8, optical zoom, 10x digital zoom, Portrait Lighting, Portrait Mode, quad-LED flash||12Mp wide-angle, f/1.8, OIS + 12Mp telephoto, f/2.4, OIS, optical zoom, 10x digital zoom, Portrait Lighting, Portrait Mode, quad-LED flash|
|Front camera||7Mp FaceTime HD, f/2.2, 1080p video||7Mp FaceTime HD, f/2.2, 1080p video||7Mp FaceTime HD, f/2.2, 1080p video|
|Video recording||4K at 24/30/60fps, 1080p slo-mo at 240fps||4K at 24/30/60fps, 1080p slo-mo at 240fps||4K at 24/30/60fps, 1080p slo-mo at 240fps|
|Biometric security||Touch ID||Touch ID||Face ID|
|Price||£699/£849 ($699/$849)||£799/£949 ($799/$949)||£999/£1,149 ($999/$1,149)|
|Buy SIM-free||From Apple||From Apple||From Apple|
|Buy on contract||From Carphone Warehouse||From Carphone Warehouse||From Carphone Warehouse|
When the phones first went on sale, this may have been the deciding factor: the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus went on sale earlier than the iPhone X and there was plenty of stock.
The iPhone X didn't go on sale until Friday 3 November, and when it did, stocks ran out quickly, with expected delivery dates stretching to days, or even weeks, later.
Now you can expect next-day delivery for the iPhone X, or pick one up in an Apple Store today. The same goes for the iPhones 8 and 8 Plus. Check out our guide to how to get an iPhone X here.
The price of these three iPhones is probably the biggest divider and it may well be your budget that is the deciding factor.
However, note that while there are huge discrepancies between the prices if you buy your handset directly from Apple, if you are spreading payments over a two-year period with your mobile network the difference may be only a few pounds a month.
Also note that there is less difference in price between the 256GB version of one handset and the 64GB version of the next model up. For example, the 256GB iPhone 8 Plus costs just £50 less than the 64GB iPhone X. So the choice is really between flag-ship phone and the extra space.
|iPhone 8 (64GB)||iPhone 8 (256GB)||iPhone 8 Plus (64GB)||iPhone 8 Plus (256GB)||iPhone X (64GB)||iPhone X (256GB)|
The iPhone 8 Plus costs £799 for 64GB or £949 for 256GB.
That's a £300 premium on the 64GB iPhone X when compared to the 64GB iPhone 8 and we have to admit we aren't convinced that it's worth that mark-up. The iPhone X is £200 more than the iPhone 8 Plus.
As we said above, the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X are both smaller than the iPhone 8 Plus (and other Plus models).
Here's how the dimensions of the iPhone X and iPhone 8 compare:
- The iPhone X measures 143.6mm by 70.9mm, and is 7.7m thick.
- The iPhone 8 is 138.4mm by 67.3mm and is 7.3mm thick.
- The iPhone 8 Plus is 158.4mm by 78.1mm and is 7.5mm thick.
So, as you can see, the iPhone 8 is smaller and thinner, but only slightly. That's difference of half a centimetre in height and even less than that in width. And as for that half a millimetre difference in depth, we don't think it will be noticeable.
So if your choice was going to be based on the size and shape of the iPhone then there is very little difference here.
When it comes to weight, however, the difference is greater.
- The iPhone X weighs 174 grams.
- The iPhone 8 weighs 148 grams.
- The iPhone 8 Plus weighs 202 grams.
So here the iPhone 8 wins - with a difference of 26 grams. Apparently a teaspoon of sugar is roughly equivalent to 4 grams, so that's about 6-7 spoonfuls of sugar, enough for a very sweet cup of tea, but we doubt that it will weigh you down all that much.
The iPhone 8 Plus is quite a bit bigger and heavier - which used to be the price you'd pay for a bigger screen... until the iPhone X launched.
If it's a small iPhone you're looking for, there isn't really a significant difference here. It's certainly not worth disqualifying the iPhone X over a few millimetres in size, and with just 26 grams between them, the iPhone X is hardly going to feel hefty in comparison to the fractionally lighter iPhone 8.
If you really want a small iPhone then there is another iPhone you could consider. The iPhone SE is Apple's smallest iPhone:
- The iPhone SE measures 123.8mm by 58.6, and is 7.6mm thick.
- It weighs 113 grams.
We'd recommend that you hold off buying one of them, though, as we expect Apple to update it in the spring of 2018. Read: iPhone SE 2 release date.
The iPhone X and iPhone 8 may be almost identical when it comes to size and weight but there is one very big difference: the size of the screen.
- The iPhone X has a 5.8in Super Retina HD display.
- The iPhone 8 has a 4.7in Retina HD display.
- The iPhone 8 Plus has a 5.5in Retina HD display.
When it comes to screen size it looks like there is one clear winner here, the iPhone X. However that 5.8in diagonal measurement is deceptive.
If you measure the screen's height and width the results are:
- iPhone X screen is 62 x 135mm.
- iPhone 8 Plus screen is 69 x 122mm.
- iPhone 8 screen is 59 x 105mm.
So, there is a world of difference between the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X screen, but in terms of the iPhone 8 Plus, there is just an extra 13mm in height on one phone and an extra 7mm in width on the other.
Except even that extra 13mm isn't entirely accurate.
If you exclude the iPhone X notch (the area at the top of the display that houses the Face ID camera) from that measurement then the screen is more accurately 62mm across x 130mm down (so 8mm longer than the 8 Plus). But it's still bigger than the iPhone 8 Plus screen, and given that the handset is itself smaller, that is something to celebrate.
Except that, because the iPhone 8 Plus is a bigger handset, the screen can be wider. And there are lots of reasons why a wider screen can be beneficial (not least if you are working on a Pages document in portrait mode).
But for many the iPhone Plus series are just too big and cumbersome to hold comfortably. The choice isn't really about screen size, but rather it is about how much of a sacrifice you are prepared to make to get a larger screen.
- The iPhone 8 Plus has a large screen, but it's a large phone and may be uncomfortable to hold.
- The iPhone X has the longest screen, but it's no wider than the iPhone 8.
Put that way, it's hard to recommend one phone over the other in terms of the screen size. It depends on what you want.
The first question is: Do you want an iPhone screen that is longer, or an iPhone screen that is wider?
The second question is: Will you be using your iPhone to watch movies and TV shows filmed in 16:9 aspect ratio? Because whereas the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are 16:9 screens, the iPhone X screen is a 19.5:9 screen and as a result you may end up choosing to watch movies in a letterbox format rather than crop elements.
The third question: Does any of this matter if you just want a smaller handset?
If you want a really big screen on your full-screen iPhone you might be wise to wait until later in 2018, when it's rumoured Apple might introduce an iPhone X Plus.
There is one other thing to say about the display on the iPhone X - it's an OLED screen that Apple is calling a Super Retina display.
- The iPhone X display has a TrueTone, 2436x1125-pixel resolution at 458ppi, with 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio.
- The iPhone 8 display offers a Retina Display, 1334x750-pixel resolution at 326ppi, and a 1400:1 contrast ratio.
- The iPhone 8 Plus display is a Retina Display, 1920x1080 pixel resolution at 401ppi, and a 1300:1 contrast ratio.
This is the first time an iPhone has been available with an OLED screen. OLEDs have a lot of excellent features including absolute blacks - hence that 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio - and a wider viewing angle.
When we used the iPhone X we were impressed. Colours were bold and bright, and the whites more true to life, also perhaps a shade more yellowy than on the iPhone 8 Plus, which seemed have a bluer tint. In comparison to the iPhone 8 Plus dark areas were brighter and clearer. This is thanks to the other feature of the screen - HDR (high dynamic range) - which expands the range of both contrast and colour.
When we watched dark scenes in movies there was a lot more clarity on the iPhone X than on the other iPhone models.
The problem with OLEDs is they can suffer from screen-burn - a 'ghost' image that remains on the screen (something plaguing the Google Pixel 2). Colour shifting can also be a problem. Apple says that it has taken steps to guard against this.
The OLED screen on the iPhone X is a sight to behold, especially thanks to the incorporation of HDR. But we feel the dimensions of the screen are the wrong aspect ratio to really enjoy movies - which is where HDR would be of most benefit. We are also slightly apprehensive about some of the issues OLEDs are known for.
When it comes down to processor there is really not a significant difference between the three phones, as each one uses Apple's A11 Bionic system-on-chip.
In fact, when it came to benchmarking tests, we found that the Geekbench scores were practically identical: we actually found that the iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone 8 scored slightly higher than the iPhone X when we tested them.
With multi-core scores around the 10,100 mark - almost twice what the iPhone 7 Plus scored - and more than the competition (the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 scores around 6,471 while the Google Pixel 2 scores 6224) we think that whichever iPhone you choose, the processor speed will not disappoint.
All three phones have a 12Mp camera on the back but there are some key differences.
The iPhone X and the iPhone 8 Plus have two cameras on the back. That's a f/1.8 aperture wide-angle and f/2.4 aperture telephoto camera that combine to create the stunning portrait shots with the blurred background that those phones can take. The iPhone X and Plus also have an optical zoom and offer digital zoom up to 10x.
The iPhone 8 just has the one 12Mp camera on the back with a f/1.8 aperture, so it can't take the fancy portrait shots, and its digital zoom goes to 5x.
Another difference is the fact that the rear-facing lenses on the iPhone X both have optical image stabilisation (OIS), which should equate to better low-light performance, while only the wide-angle lens on the iPhone 8 Plus has this.
In our photo tests we found that macro photos taken with the iPhone X were better than those on the iPhone 8 Plus, and the additional OIS is probably the reason for that.
There is also new technology in the A11 Bionic chip that allows Apple to go a step further with this portrait photography in the iPhone X and 8 Plus. The 'Neural Engine' in the image signal processor can allow you to change the lighting conditions after taking the photograph.
Portrait Lighting options include Natural Light, Studio Light, Contour Light, Stage Light, and Stage Light Mono. The latter two options black out the background while the other options change how the light appears to fall on your face. Right now the feature is in beta - and it doesn't always give the best results, but its a fun way to enhance the already good portrait style shots.
We love the portrait shots we take with our iPhone 7 Plus so we'd recommend getting a phone with that capability.
If you take a lot of shots of people and would like to create the bokeh effect then we think you'd love this feature of the iPhone X. If you don't know what the bokeh effect is we'd probably suggest you don't really need it.
Turning to the camera on the front of the iPhones. The selfie/FaceTime camera on the front of the iPhone X is different to that found on the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus.
On the iPhone 8 models you will find a 7Mp FaceTime HD camera with Retina Flash (the same as on the iPhone Plus) but on the iPhone X there is a 7Mp TrueDepth front camera with Portrait mode and Portrait Lighting.
This TrueDepth camera is what makes Face ID possible - as we will explain later.
In terms of taking photos, the TrueDepth camera on the front of the iPhone X can take what Apple is calling Portrait Mode Selfies. In other words, the front facing camera can take photos with a sharp foreground and an artfully blurred background to create the same bokeh effect that the two cameras on the back of the iPhone X and Plus can achieve.
When it comes to cameras the X gives you the extra image stabilisation and Portrait Mode Selfies.
The iPhone 8 Plus is more than adequate if you don't want to spend your days taking selfies (and we can't help but think that the people who do that are all using Snapchat anyway).
However, the camera in the iPhone 8 is still great, so, if you aren't bothered by the addition of the rear-facing Portrait Mode, the iPhone 8 is more than adequate.
The missing Home Button
There is one huge difference between the iPhone X and the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus and it may be the thing that turns you off the iPhone X altogether.
The trade-off for getting the bigger screen on the iPhone 8 is the demise of the Home Button. Yes, the trademark Home Button - arguably as much a part of the iPhone's iconic design as the clickwheel was on the iPod - has gone.
The removal of the Home Button means that Apple needed to make some changes to the iPhone interface. So if you were to buy an iPhone X you would have to learn a new way to navigate the interface. You may adapt to this quickly, or you may find yourself frustrated. It depends on how willing you are to embrace change, and how intuitive the new way of interfacing with the iPhone is.
We have an article that explains how to use the new iPhone X, and all the new gestures that you will have to learn. When we used the iPhone X for a short time we found we quickly adjusted to the new gestures.
We found that it was a lot easier to get used to the different gestures on the iPhone X than we expected, but we still feel that the Home button was more intuitive and it is frustrating to feel that you have to perform extra steps to do things that previously only took one button press.
Face ID v Touch ID
There is another change as a result of the missing Home Button. Touch ID, Apple's fingerprint recognition system for securing your phone so that only you could open it, and allowing you to pay for things using Apple Pay, has been replaced with Face ID.
We feel a bit sad about the loss of Touch ID on the iPhone X. We liked the simplicity of being able to unlock our phone just by touching the Home Button, and we enjoyed being able to use our iPhone to pay for things in shops. With Face ID you will unlock your phone by looking at it. Read our comparison review of Face ID vs Touch ID.
There is a lot of concern buzzing around the web about the reliability of Face ID and how secure it is.
Apple's demo on stage during the keynote did little to convince people of its reliability - with it appearing to fail (although Apple is saying it wasn't correctly set up rather than it failed to recognise the presenter).
Since the iPhone X launched there have been various cases of people being able to unlock someone else's iPhone X - normally identical twins or family members, but there have also been tales of people unlocking iPhone X models with masks. We cover some of these incidents in this article about problems with the iPhone X.
Apple says that Face ID is more secure than Touch ID. According to Apple, there is only a one in a million chance that Face ID would allow someone else to unlock your iPhone - that someone would have to be your doppelgänger.
Essentially, Face ID is secure from a criminal since they are unlikely to look like you - but if it's your sibling you want to keep secrets from then you might not be so lucky.
Apple also recommends that children under the age of 13 shouldn't use Face ID as their faces are still developing and "distinct facial features may not have fully developed".
Touch ID, on the other hand, has a one in 50,000 chance of being cracked by someone else fingerprint. (It strikes us that it would be easier to find someone who looked like someone else than to find someone with a similar fingerprint if you were intent on hacking into their phone though).
People who cover their face, such as a burkas, niqab or balaclava wearer, won't be able to use Face ID, although if you have a beard, hat or glasses Face ID should still work.
We found Face ID worked very well, although initially we found it failed to recognise us on a few occasions. However, the initial failings were due to Face ID learning us, and as it became accustomed to recognising us in various lighting and with or without glasses and the like, it happily unlocked the iPhone whenever required.
One last thing to note here - when it comes to security the difference between Face ID and Touch ID is really irrelevant because anyone can unlock your iPhone if they have your passcode. So if you don't have a secure passcode - that's a passcode that isn't 000000 or 123456 - then you might as well leave your iPhone unlocked.
There are some benefits to Face ID. You never feel like you are having to unlock your phone, and logging onto services that would have previously used Touch ID, now work with Face ID, so accessing your banking app on your phone can be quicker, if your iPhone X recognises it's you.
But it can be frustrating to use it when after your iPhone recognises you it is still necessary to press the Side button to activate a payment.
Those are the main differences that will probably make the biggest difference to you. But there are a few more differences between the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and iPhone X in terms of specs.
There are also a few things that are identical as we will outline below.
- iPhone X: Space Grey / Silver
- iPhone 8: Gold / Silver / Space Grey / Red
- iPhone 8 Plus: Gold / Silver / Space Grey / Red
- iPhone X: 64GB / 256GB
- iPhone 8: 64GB / 256GB
- Phone 8 Plus: 64GB / 256GB
- iPhone X: Rated IP67 under IEC standard 60529
- iPhone 8: Rated IP67 under IEC standard 60529 (SAME)
- iPhone 8 Plus: Rated IP67 under IEC standard 60529 (SAME)
- iPhone X: A11 Bionic chip with 64-bit architecture, M11 motion coprocessor
- iPhone 8: A11 Bionic chip with 64-bit architecture, M11 motion coprocessor (SAME)
- iPhone 8 Plus: A11 Bionic chip with 64-bit architecture, M11 motion coprocessor (SAME)
- iPhone X: Lasts up to 2 hours longer than iPhone 7
- iPhone 8: Lasts about the same as iPhone 7
- iPhone 8 Plus: Lasts about the same as iPhone 7
- iPhone X Wireless charging (works with Qi chargers)
- iPhone 8 Wireless charging (works with Qi chargers) (SAME)
- iPhone 8 Plus Wireless charging (works with Qi chargers) (SAME)
We've skipped over wireless charging which is a new feature for the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and iPhone X. We aren't convinced about how important a feature it is, but if it is something you are attracted to, it's worth emphasising that the feature is available on both the iPhone 8 and iPhone X so it's not a reason to choose one phone over the other.
The iPhone X has a few features that we love, such as Portrait Mode selfies and the improved Portrait Mode on the rear camera. Others are less stunning: the bigger screen on the smaller handset sounds great, for example, but we feel it's a little spoiled by the notch and the fact that it's not actually any wider than that on the iPhone 8.
In addition, the removal of the Home Button means that not only do you need to re-learn the interface, but you can no longer use Touch ID. We find this very off-putting, but suspect that it's something we will all have to learn to live with, because the likelihood is that future iPhones will adopt this edge-to-edge screen and Face ID.
Right now, we'd say go ahead and buy the iPhone 8 Plus if you want to use the improved Portrait Mode, or just stick with the cheaper iPhone 8 and enjoy the Home Button while you still can. That's unless you want to be one of an elite using the new iPhone X and all the bragging rights that entails. And we know quite a few people who fit into that category.