For the first time, Apple launched three brand new iPhones in one event: the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus models are the immediate successors to the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, offering faster processing, a better screen, wireless charging and sharper cameras without some of the more radical changes coming in the iPhone X. They’re available in 64GB and 256GB capacities, starting at $699, while the Plus model starts at $799. Preorders open on September 15, followed by availability on September 22.
After spending some time with the new iPhone 8 and 8 Plus (I did the same with the iPhone X a bit earlier), here’s a closer look at what it’s been like to use them.
Without looking closely, it’s easy to mistake the iPhone 8 for the iPhone 7. But flip it over and you’ll notice a big change. The back of the new iPhone is made of glass, which is part of the reason it’s able to support wireless charging. It’s a refreshing change from the aluminum design Apple’s implemented over the past several years, but I noticed that it does make the phone more prone to fingerprint smudges than its predecessors.
The iPhone is finally getting a feature that the iPad has had for some time: True Tone display. This adjusts the white balance to match the lighting in a given area. Holding it alongside my iPhone 7 Plus, I certainly noticed a difference. the iPhone 8’s screen had more of a yellowish glow to it, making it slightly easier to read the text of a webpage than on my iPhone 7 Plus.
Apple claims the iPhone 8’s improved 12-megapixel camera will bring a host of enhancements to photos. During my hands-on session, I had the chance to get a taste of some of these changes. The iPhone 8 Plus’s Portrait Mode, for example, now works when you’re taking photos with the front camera. And a new feature called Portrait Lighting makes it possible to play with the way the shadows hit your subject’s face. Even in beta mode, I was able to see how the lighting shifted as it moved from stage light to contouring mode. When snapping regular photos with the iPhone 8, I noticed the shutter was able to capture the image just slightly faster than my iPhone 7 Plus.
The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, though not as flashy as the iPhone X, will probably be the iPhones most people opt for. They balance familiarity with new features that make the iPhone feel fresh. That, and it’s no leap to wager many won’t be willing to shell out $1,000 for a new iPhone likely to be replaced by a new and further refined version in a year. I’m also willing to bet that not everyone is ready to ditch the Home button (the iPhone X drops it entirely) in favor of learning new software gestures.
The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus thus feel like the iPhone Apple made to sell a bazillion units, while the iPhone X is its answer to its many critics who’ve spent the last few years questioning Apple’s ability to innovate in the smartphone space.