When it launched in 2017, the iPhone 8 was the ideal cheaper option for anyone looking to upgrade to a newer Apple device, since it was competing with the iPhone X. Now however, it's time to see whether the improved battery life and large bezels make it an iPhone worth acquiring a few years down the line, especially since it's currently the cheapest iPhone model available, and still one of the best smartphone options in 2020.
If you're looking into buying an iPhone 8, you know without a shadow of a doubt that the phone functions will be identical to those found on previous iPhones. There's really not too much we can say on this front; you have iMessage and FaceTime to communicate with other iPhones, as long as you're on the latest iOS then all popular apps will work etc.
One of the most important factors to consider when looking at a brand new smartphone is how much it costs. The iPhone 8 will set you back $449 at a minimum, or you can double the 64GB storage for $50 more. That's $150 cheaper than the XR, which is set at $599. On the other hand, you can pay just $18.70 a month for it on the four best cell phone providers; Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, or AT&T.
By this point, you know what you're getting with an iPhone. Each iteration is so similar on the face of it that you could jump from an iPhone 4 to an iPhone 11 and not be faced with many new additions, especially since every model will run off the current version of iOS. What we're interested in is what's going on underneath the hood and whether the iPhone 8 is a worthy pickup.
iPhone 8 review: Design and styling
- Available in gold, silver, or space grey
- Rounded corners, large bezels
At this point in the life cycle of the iPhone brand – unless you've been a sole Android devotee for the last 10+ years – you know what the usual iPhone formula looks like. While the recent iPhone X and onwards has foregone the traditional home button for a larger screen size and facial recognition software, the iPhone 8 is the last model to use the familiar feature. This means that as you'd expect, 3D Touch is the main security unlock method and facial ID isn't included.
Colors-wise, you're faced with the three conventional iPhone choices: gold (which is more like a light bronze or off-pink), silver, or space grey. It also opts for a glass exterior instead of metal, with an aluminum strip along the outside. As a whole, the design is very similar to the previous iPhone 6 and 7, to the point where it's not easy to immediately discern between the three. Not necessarily a bad thing if you're a fan of those designs, because even though the recent 11-series may look more modern and sleek, this design still holds its own.
The iPhone 8 weighs 5.2 ounces, slightly more than the 7 at 4.87 ounces, but much less than the X at 6.14 ounces. It's also worth noting that the iPhone 8's closest, most recent competitor – the iPhone XR – weighs a staggering 6.84 ounces. Size-wise, the iPhone 8 is 5.45 inches x 2.65 inches x 0.29 inches, almost identical to the iPhone 7 but somewhat smaller than the XR and X.
iPhone 8 review: Battery
- Should last for a working day without any problems
- Charges via lightning cable or Qi wireless
The iPhone 8 has a slightly smaller battery than the 7 which doesn't bode well for its lasting prowess during the day, but most reviews have found it will last for a full working day without any issues. As long as you're not using it 24/7, the common consensus is that it will outlive the iPhone 7, with one site even reporting as much as it lasting for a 26 hour span without needing to be charged, including playing games, listening to music, and watching videos. That's significantly better performance than the new iPhone 11 Pro.
Perhaps the biggest bonus about the iPhone 8 battery over the 7 is that it supports wireless charging via the universal Qi standard so if you'd prefer to opt for that over the standard lightning cable then it's certainly an option, especially with wireless charging becoming more commonplace.
iPhone 8 review: Screen and audio
- IPS screen is great, but resolution is only slightly better than 720p
- HDR10 feature provides great quality on HDR-supported videos
But how does the display look? The iPhone 8 has a 4.7" Retina HD display with IPS technology, the same feature you'll find in high-end PC monitors. While this screen is smaller than most, the positive to this is that it is much easier to reach across with one hand, something that people with smaller hands find frustrating with Plus-sized phones.
It doesn't quite offer a 1080p resolution – something the iPhone 8 Max does – but the 1334x750 display it does provide isn't too far behind since it's higher than 720p. There's not too much to be excited about there, but there are a few smaller features that make the display a noticeable upgrade. First up is True Tone, which alters the white balance depending on your surroundings, similar to how Night Shift works but even more impressive since it's in the hardware.
Dolby Vision and HDR10 formats are also now both supported, which means HDR videos on apps like Netflix and iTunes look much better. Gone are the washed out colors, with everything looking considerably brighter and bolder now. Unfortunately if you were hoping for an OLED screen, you'll need to opt for the iPhone X or higher.
Sound-wise, the iPhone 8 once again doesn't have a standard 3.5mm audio jack. This is part of Apple's plan to dominate the audio world (kidding), so you'll need to either opt for Apple's branded earphones that utilize the lightning connector, or something wireless like AirPods or one of the hundreds of others on the market. In terms of the quality, it's absolutely fine – it doesn't pack the most punch played out loud but then again, who uses phone speakers out loud in 2020 anyway? It does the job, but pick up a Bluetooth speaker or some decent earphones for the best audio experience.
iPhone 8 review: Camera
Average price: $399
Operating system: iOS
Screen size: 4.7-inch
5G ready? No
Headphone jack? No
Charging type: Lightning
Also consider... Samsung Galaxy S9
- One of the best smartphone cameras for sub-$500
- No portrait mode, but excellent in low-light
Smartphones are essentially incredibly impressive cameras these days and iPhones are renowned for having top quality picture-takers. Despite it unfortunately protruding from the back of the phone – seriously, get a thick case or it will get infuriating – the 12mp camera is excellent and can even record 4K video at 60fps.
One of the only drawbacks with this camera is what it doesn't have, which is the portrait mode found on more recent iPhone devices. If you're a huge selfie fan for Instagram, Tinder, Snapchat, and all the other trendy apps right now, then the function will be missed but, otherwise, the camera quality is mightily impressive.
There's a plethora of features to write home about here; slo-mo video support at 1080p, panorama photos up to 63MP, optical image stabilization, the ability to take 8MP photos while recording at 4K… the list is long.
It performs especially well in low-light conditions and picks up plenty of detail, with vibrant colors and high saturation. While Apple's claim to have added "deeper pixels" might be marketing buzz, there's no ignoring the fact that almost all reviews claim the iPhone 8 camera was the best iPhone camera ever seen upon release. At that price point, the iPhone 8 is one of the best smartphone cameras you can find.
iPhone 8 review: Software and assistant features
- Everyone's favorite, Siri, makes a return
- The A11 Bionic chip performs at impressive speeds
As is the case with every iPhone, Siri is your personal AI assistant. Activate it by double pressing the lock/power button and ask it absolutely anything you want; what's the weather like in Buenos Aires? Can you set an alarm for 7am? Where's the best place to hide a dead body? Okay, we don't recommend that last one, but you get how it works. Most AI assistants these days all offer the same thing and you can ask Siri to call you absolutely anything you want, so if you want it to address you as Lord Flumple von Stiltface, you can do that. Because why not? Siri is better than the assistants found in most Android phones, so that is a real benefit.
The iPhone 8 offers all of the standard built-in iPhone apps, from Weather and Voice Memos to Calculator, Books, Garageband, and more. Provided you're on the latest version of iOS, all currently supported apps on the App Store can be used, from the latest games like Call of Duty Mobile and Pokemon Go to classic apps everyone has installed such as WhatsApp, Spotify, and TikTok.
As you'd expect, the iPhone 8 is super speedy at switching between apps currently open and booting them up initially. Scrolling through news articles, using the Safari browser, swiping right and left through potential dates, everything is as smooth as butter, largely thanks to the A11 Bionic chip. Now this is a downgrade to the A12 in the iPhone XR and the A13 in the iPhone 11, but of course is a step above the A10 in the iPhone 7.
iPhone 8 review: Security
- No facial ID
- Fingerprint scanner
As mentioned earlier, the iPhone 8 doesn't feature facial ID software to unlock the phone, as that was introduced in later iPhones. It does have the 3D Touch functionality though, which recognizes your fingerprint, and you can add multiple fingers for ease of access. If you share your phone with anyone, you can also add fingers that aren't yours. Mind blowing, right? Like most services these days, Apple ID offers two-factor authentication. Make sure you turn it on for added security with everything Apple related (and for all of your non-Apple products and services too!), to be extra secure.
Apple is also a fantastic example of top notch accessibility features, such as VoiceOver that can speak aloud pretty much all text with a host of customization settings. There are also plenty of display sizes, magnifications, zoom, hearing aids, you name it. While you're unlikely to find a smartphone in the current era that doesn't provide accessibility support, Apple is a leader in this market.
Should you buy the iPhone 8?
Simply put, the iPhone 8 remains a first-class iPhone, despite not having some of the company's flashiest new features. The camera quality is good enough for most users, battery life is impressive as long as you're not watching Netflix and playing Fortnite all day long, and for just $50 more you can get the 128GB version and double your storage. Not quite the 256GB option some smartphones have, but it should be more than enough, especially with Apple's iCloud storage services.
Sure, the iPhone 11 and Android devices like the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus might be outright better, but they're also almost double the price and, in some cases, more. The trusty old 8 is still brilliant phone that can be recommended to anyone, especially if you're on a tighter budget and want a simpler phone.