The iPhone 8 is here, and, it's more or less exactly what you'd expect a new iPhone to be. Apple has improved the camera, tweaked the design, and extended the battery life, as well introducing some genuinely useful new features.
But 2017 is a special year for Apple, it's the 10th anniversary of the first iPhone, so we were hoping they'd do something a little special, and, thankfully they did. To celebrate 10 years Apple also announced the iPhone X, which pushes the boundaries of phone design and looks to the future with an innovative feature set.
You can read more about it in T3's complete guide to the iPhone X
Of course, the imminent iPhone X does overshadow the iPhone 8 somewhat. But the X is expensive, and not suited to everyone, so the iPhone 8 positions itself as the entry level into Apple's flagship range.
Should you get the iPhone 8? Read on to find out...
- Check out our iPhone X review
The iPhone 8 measures 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3 mm. That's fractionally larger than the iPhone 7, but it should still fit inside an iPhone 7 case. It carries over the 4.7-inch screen (more on that later).
That really puts the iPhone 8 in a league of its own, as there are no Android flagships with such a compact screen.
The size makes it a pleasure to hold and use one-handed, which could be the killer reason to buy the iPhone 8 over anything else.
Clearly, you don't get the bezel-less displays which the Samsung Galaxy S8 and iPhone X offer. That makes the iPhone 8 feel a bit more dated than its competitors.
As we've already mentioned, the iPhone 8's design isn't a massive departure from the iPhone 6 and 7 aesthetic. That's not necessarily a bad thing, they're great looking phones.
The aluminium unibody design has been replaced by a glass back (evoking the spirit of the iconic iPhone 4). This allows for wireless charging and should improve the wireless performance (that's what other manufacturers like HTC have claimed in the past).
The glass back feels great, although, not quite as premium as the almost-ceramic metal case.
It has a grippy coating that makes it feel more secure in your hands compared to other glass-backed phones. This is also helped by the extra weight, 148g vs 138g of the iPhone 7.
We reviewed the white and silver model, which doesn't show any fingerprints, and we've also been using it without a case and haven't noticed any scratches yet.
The camera lens still protrudes from the rear casing.
Just like the iPhone 7 there's no headphone port. It's time to jump onboard the wireless bandwagon.
The stereo speakers are now louder. It's a clear improvement ove ther previous iPhones, but lack bass for proper music listening. They do create a pleasingly wide soundstage.
The iPhone 8 is water resistant, with the same IP67 rating. That means it should survive in 1 metre of water for up to 30 minutes.
And finally on design - Apple have changed the colourways available. The iPhone 8 comes in Silver, Gold, and Black.
The Gold is the standout here. It's much truer to real rose gold than the pink of Apple's old rose gold. The old iPhone Rose Gold is now discontinued.
A True Tone Screen
The iPhone 8 features a 4.7-inch 750 x 1334 IPS LCD display which has a pixel density of 326 PPI.
That's the same number of pixels as the iPhone 7 (and the three year old iPhone 6). That's quite surprising, as we were expecting a bump in resolution considering some other rivals, now pack QHD screens (570 PPI for the Samsung Galaxy S8).
If you hold them together side by side the difference is noticeable, but in reality, you won't be disappointed by the iPhone 8's resolution - it's plenty sharp enough.
What Apple has focused on improving is the brightness and colour representation.
Apple has added True Tone technology to the display. This monitors the ambient light around the handset, and calibrates the screen to perfect it under your current lighting conditions. This was first seen in the iPad Pro.
It results in bold colours and beautiful contrast, without out looking over-processed, like some competitors.
Unrivaled specs and improved battery life
The iPhone 8 comes packing Apple's new and speedy A11 Bionic hexa-core (that's six cores) processor. It's the most powerful processor Apple has ever put in an iPhone.
Now day-to-day it's difficult to notice this increase in power. Tearing through different apps, playing music, watching video, and checking emails are all uninterrupted by the hardware (as is usual for a new phone). What's super impressive is how instantly apps are ready when multitasking between numerous jobs, but that's something iPhones have always been good at.
Where the added processing power will really become apparent is when running the more intensive apps (which use AR Kit, for example).
Hopefully, it'll also stay quick for a lot longer, as well.
Apple also simplified storage options, now the iPhone 8 comes with with 64GB, or 256GB.
Apple claimed the iPhone 8's battery life was comparable to the iPhone 7, but we found it performed very well, far exceeding our expectations.
Obviously, we're not talking a two-day battery life here, but we found it comfortably lasted a day with mixed usage.
We've also got two new ways to charge the iPhone 8 - wirelessly and quickly (and yes, those are mutually exclusive).
The new glass-backed design means that you can set the iPhone 8 down on a wireless charging pad and it'll instantly start sucking up juice.
It's the universal 'Qi' standard as well, so you won't need a special Apple wireless charger for this to work.
It's a nice touch and convenient, but at the moment it's rather slow. We found it very useful on a recent road trip which a Qi-enabled car, however.
Also onboard is fast charging, but you'll need to buy an additional USB-C to Lightning cable and fast charger to unlock this.
- Read T3's guide to iOS 11
Single camera excellence
Ah, the camera - now this is where it gets interesting.
On paper the iPhone 8's camera looks unchanged from the iPhone 7. You get the 12 megapixel f/1.8 lens setup as you did with the previous generation, but this year the sensor is larger and the software smarter.
The result is a big improvement, with the camera now capable of taking some stunning shots with great detail and contrast.
Check out these iPhone 8 image samples:
It's still a shame you can't get Apple's dual camera system on the smaller phone, because I constantly feel like I'm missing Portrait Mode and Optical Zoom.
The 7MP front facing camera is excellent, as is the 4K video at 60fps.
The iPhone 8 is an excellent smartphone. The battery life is decent, the camera improved, and the addition of wireless charging adds convenience.
We like the glass-backed design as well, and, thanks to the small screen it's one of the most ergonomic phones we've ever used.
There's one X-shaped problem.
The iPhone 8 is overshadowed by the more exciting, more expensive brother, and if you're looking for the latest, greatest iPhone ever released, you're going to want the iPhone X.
Of course, the iPhone 8 is considerably cheaper than the £999 iPhone X, coming in a £699. And that's where our problem with the iPhone 8 lies, it's now the 'cheap' iPhone...
iPhone 8 specs
Dimensions: 158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm
Display: 4.7 inches, 750 x 1334 pixels pixels
Processor: Apple A11 Bionic / 2GB RAM
Storage: 64 / 256GB
Battery: 1821 mAh
Camera: 12MP sensor, f/1.8, OIS, quad-LED (dual tone) flash
Liked this? Check out the iPhone 8's rivals in out best smartphone guide