Apple iPhone 8, 8 Plus review: Benchmark set for performance and usability
The iPhone 8 (Rs64,000 (64 GB); Rs77,000 (256 GB)) and iPhone 8 Plus (Rs73,000 (64 GB); Rs86,000 (256 GB)) have retained a lot of the design language from the predecessors, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. For instance, there is the home button below the display, they are dust-and-water resistant too and the dual camera geometry remains the same. This means your iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus case covers could work with the new phones too. However, this is where the similarities end.
The Series 7000 aluminum chassis is stronger. The back panel has a glass layer, which looks gorgeous when light reflects off it, and the oleophobic coating prevents smudges and fingerprints from ruining the pristine look. Many Android phones, such as the Sony Xperia flagship phones, have glass back panels, but these get smudged within seconds of unpacking from the box.
Apple has tweaked the colours. The Space Grey option remains as it is, but the Silver and Gold colours have been considerably improved. The Silver iPhone gives off a classy light blue hue in certain ambient lighting, while the new Gold is accentuated by the glass layer.
As it turns out, the glass back isn’t just for design inspiration. These are the first iPhones with wireless charging capabilities embedded, based on the Qi standard. What this means is that you can buy a wireless charger accessory (Belkin and Mophie are making them at the moment; Apple’s AirPower Mat arrives next year) and place the phone flat on its back on the charger to juice up the battery. Yes, some expensive Android phones (Samsung Galaxy S7 launched in 2016, for instance) have had this for a while, but while they are limited to 5 watts of power, Apple will upgrade the charging capabilities of the new iPhones to 7.5-watts with a future software update.
The iPhone 8’s 4.7-inch screen and the iPhone 8 Plus’ 5.5-inch screen are of the same size and resolution as before, but have been tweaked for better brightness and richer colours. The new iPhones also get the advantage of the True Tone feature (the iPad Pro already had this), which tweaks the display’s colour warmth according to the ambient lighting to reduce the stress on eyes. Sheer numbers aside (there are those who prefer 2K and 4K resolution smartphone displays), iPhone displays have pretty much set the benchmark in terms of usability all this while, and now they have been further improved. We noticed that the automatic brightness algorithm, when in doubt, errs on the side of caution and keeps the brightness on a slightly higher side.
The A11 Bionic processor turns out to be as much as 75% faster than the predecessor depending on the number of cores used by an app or game you may be using. The new iPhones focus significantly on augmented reality (AR) and machine learning, and the new A11 Bionic neural engine can process up to 600 billion operations per second. Add the new iOS 11 software in the mix, with its own set of performance improvements, and you get battery life that is no lesser than the iPhone 7 line-up, despite a lot more power on tap.
The cameras in the new iPhones reap the benefits of better colour filters, deeper pixels and an improved image signal processor, wider colour capture, faster auto focus in low light and richer HDR photos. While the camera specs remain largely the same on paper, the optical hardware has been significantly upgraded. The iPhone 8 now gets optical image stabilization. The dual camera in the iPhone 8 Plus gets the new Portrait Lighting filters for photos captured in Portrait mode.
As it turns out, Apple has done away with the 128 GB storage variant and not introduced the otherwise expected 512 GB option in the new iPhones. What you get is a choice between 64 GB and 256 GB storage for both iPhones.
From what we have experienced, the new iPhones genuinely take the next leap in terms of outright performance and the cameras are certainly better. But for all the excellence of the two new iPhones, the iPhone X looms large. There will be inevitable question of whether to buy the iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus, or wait for the iPhone X (that arrives on 3 November). The answer is actually quite simple—if you can spend Rs1,02,000, then surely wait for the X (256 GB version). Otherwise, comparing the price difference between the 256 GB variant of the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus with the 64 GB entry-spec variant (Rs89,000) of the iPhone X isn’t entirely a logical comparison in terms of the storage space you’ll get.