iPhone 8: Powerful phone marred by tired design

by Haadi Bakar
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Those planning on geting a new iPhone this year are likely to skip the iPhone 8 for the iPhone X. After all, the latter’s radical redesign gives buyers assurance that it’s not just another iPhone 6 refresh.

But with its exorbitantly high price and limited quantity at launch, the 10th anniversary iPhone is probably not going to reach the hands of many buyers for a while.

Which begs the question, is the iPhone 8 or 8 Plus still a viable option?

If spending more than B$2,000 for a smartphone sounds outrageous to you, then yes, it makes more sense to stick to getting an iPhone 8 or 8 Plus rather than the iPhone X.

You won’t be getting that bezel-less design, Face ID and Animoji, but none of those features are groundbreaking or innovative enough to spend all that money you’ve worked so hard for.

The only downside is that they don’t look all that different to last year’s iPhones – technically Apple should’ve branded them the iPhone 7s and 7s Plus.

That’s because other than the new rear glass panel replacing last year’s aluminium back, both phones are still the typical slab with rounded corners and curved edges. It’s a dated design, whereas rival phones have already gone the bezel-less route.

Also we can all by now accept that we’ll never see the headphone jack making a comeback after it got nixed on last year’s iPhones.

But if all that don’t bother you as much, then you’ll love what the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus bring to the table this time, starting with wireless charging (finally, Apple!).

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are the first iPhones (after 15 versions that came before them) that can be charged wirelessly. Android phones have long enjoyed this while iPhone users have been pulling the lightning cord whenever they run out of juice.

One of the most impressive upgrades on the latest iPhones are on the cameras. If you’re into smartphone photography, the iPhone 8 Plus is a must-have.

Of course, you’ll need to purchase a separate Qi-standard wireless charging dock. The one made by Apple has room for the Apple Watch, so you can charge both devices wirelessly at once.

Performance is another obvious improvement – both phones rock Apple’s A11 Bionic processor which has the ability to handle Augmented Reality apps. There should be a boost in speed though it’s hard to tell the difference between the last generation iPhones as the A10 was also impressive.

The batteries on both devices are actually smaller than the previous generation, however. But Apple claims the A11 Bionic chip also handles power management quite efficiently which should offset the decrease in battery capacity.

While the smaller iPhone 8 has 2GB of RAM, the larger 8 Plus has 3GB. It’s obvious that the bigger iPhone gets more RAM for intensive camera modes (more on that later).

No headphone jack, but at least the stereo speaker volume has improved significantly.

Apple has also upped the storage configuration on the new iPhones. Now the base models start at 64GB which was considered plentiful three iPhone generations ago, while the top tier models give you 256GB. Just two variants, there’s no mid-tier 128GB.

The front-projecting speakers are also noticeably improved, sounding way punchier than the last models they’re replacing.

By far the most impressive upgrade on the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are the 12-megapixel f/1.8 rear cameras. Both have new sensors, while the 8 Plus retains the dual lens camera system from the 7 Plus – the second f/2.8 telephoto lens allow for 2x optical zoom and bokeh-licious Portrait Mode.

New to the 8 Plus is Portrait Lighting, a camera software trick that lets you manipulate your potraitures with various lighting effects. It’s a fun way to get really beautiful portraits of people and even selfies without the need to edit the photos later or set up sophisticated lighting equipment.

Testing out the iPhone 8 Plus’ Portrait Lighting feature on Rano.

The cameras take really high quality images, the best I’ve seen on a smartphone yet. Last month, DxOMark gave the iPhone 8 Plus a score of 94 (up from 88 on the 7). Following that, some professional photographers showed samples of their shots taken on the iPhone 8 and they were comparable to images taken on a dSLR!

Both phones can also record 4K video and slow-motion at up to 240 fps.

A lot of the abovementioned new features and improvements also made it to the iPhone X, so you’re really not going to be missing much if you opt for the 8 over the X. You’ll thank your wallet for it.

Most who are planning to get the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are obviously existing iPhone users who wish to upgrade, though I wouldn’t recommend them to those who have iPhones newer than the 6s.

If you’re budget-strapped however, The 7 and 7 Plus are still solid choices if you want to save money for a new iPhone. Those models still work great, especially the cameras, and you get way better deals now that the 8 and X are released on the market.

The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are currently on sale at DST’s showrooms. Click here to find out more about their latest bundle plans.

Taking food pics at the concession table during the launch of the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus bundle plans at DST’s Airport Mall branch last week.

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