Over the years, whenever an iPhone update involved minor tweaks, it was given the “S" moniker. For instance, the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus successor didn’t have enough changes to be given the next number naming, hence the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus names. There was some indication this year that the two iPhone variants succeeding last year’s iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus could also get the “S" series naming. However, as it turns out, the new iPhones pack in enough powerful upgrades to be called the iPhone and the iPhone 8 Plus. We look at the critical features.

Both the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus retain the same screen size as before—4.7-inch and 5.5-inch sizes remain, respectively, but the displays have been tweaked for better brightness and richer colours.

While the design also isn’t entirely different from before, the important new addition is the glass layer at the back. This means that the dimensions change slightly, but the in-hand feel is significantly different from last year’s phones which were all about metal chassis.

The glass layer at the back also enables the wireless charging feature, as long as you buy the optional accessory which brands such as Belkin will manufacture and sell.

Just like the more expensive iPhone X, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus also run the new A11 Bionic processor. This chip is up to 75% faster than the predecessor depending on the number of cores an app or game uses. The new A11 Bionic neural engine features a dual-core design and performs up to 600 billion operations per second for real-time processing, the neural engine is designed for specific machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms.

In terms of the cameras, the iPhone 8 retains the single camera setup, while the iPhone 8 Plus gets dual cameras. However, the important upgrade for the iPhone 8 is the addition of optical image stabilization, which should mean significantly better low-light photography and smoother videos. The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus get 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. A fun new addition in the iPhone 8 Plus is the ability to set filters known as Portrait Lighting for portrait photos. This can be done later while editing the photos in the phone’s Photos app.

The two new iPhones will inevitably get the added advantage of iOS 11, the latest operating system for the iPhones, which includes significant improvements across the board in terms of performance, multi-tasking and more.

The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus will be launched in India on 29 September—a week after their US debut. The phones will be available in space grey, silver and the all-new Gold colour option. The storage options will be 64GB and 256GB, and prices will start at Rs64,000.

Vishal Mathur was in San Francisco as a guest of Apple.

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