The iPhone X may be a really big deal, but it isn’t Apple’s biggest phone: that’s the iPhone 8 Plus, the successor to last year’s iPhone 7 Plus.
It’s a big phone with a big screen and a big price tag too, but is it a worthy upgrade from the thoroughly excellent and still lightning quick iPhone 7 Plus? Let’s find out.
iPhone 8 Plus vs iPhone 7 Plus: design
The iPhone 7 Plus looks like a bigger iPhone 7 and like its smaller sibling comes in six colours: Rose Gold, Gold, Silver, Black, Jet Black and (Product)RED, and it’s rated IP67 for water and dust resistance. It’s a big phone – that 5.5-inch display with large bezels means it’s hefty if you have small hands – but visually the proportions work just as well as they do on the smaller iPhone 7.
The iPhone 8 looks similar but has a glass front and back sitting on a steel frame with aluminium around the edges. Colours are Silver, Space Grey and Gold. It’s microscopically sealed for dust and water resistance; we’re assuming IP68 certification compared to the IP67 of the iPhone 7.
iPhone 8 Plus vs iPhone 7 Plus: display
The iPhone 7 Plus has a 5.5-inch Retina HD display, delivering 1920 x 1080 pixels at 326ppi. It has 1300:1 contrast, 625 cd/m2 maximum brightness and dial-domain pixels for wider viewing angles.
The iPhone 8 Plus keeps the same screen technology and dimensions but adds the True Tone display of the iPad Pro, which adjusts screen colours based on available ambient light. It’s subtle but very effective.
iPhone 8 Plus vs iPhone 7 Plus: processor, memory and storage
The iPhone 7 Plus is available with 32GB, 128GB or 256GB of storage and has 3GB of RAM, 1GB more than the iPhone 7. The processor is Apple’s quad-core A10 Fusion, which has two high performance and two energy efficient cores. It’s paired with the M10 motion co-processor. In a year of very demanding usage we haven’t found anything to complain about in terms of performance: it was, and remains, a very fast smartphone.
With the iPhone 8, Apple has upped the horsepower quite dramatically. The new A11 Bionic processor is a six-core processor with four high performance cores, and performance is between 25% and 70% faster than the iPhone 7. Apple has its own GPU here too, which is 30% faster than its predecessor.
We haven’t seen it benchmarked yet but leaks suggest it might come close to the 10,000 mark in GeekBench. That’s astonishing. Storage is up too: there’s a choice of 64GB or 256GB models.
iPhone 8 Plus vs iPhone 7 Plus: camera
The camera in the iPhone 7 Plus is actually two cameras. The main lens is a 12MP model with f/1.8 aperture, 5x digital zoom, optical image stabilisation and Auto HDR for photos, while the second lens offers depth sensing to create Digital SLR-style blurs in Portrait mode. It should be good for augmented reality apps too. It records 4K video at 30 fps, 1080p at 30 or 60 fps and has slo-mo and time-lapse modes. The front camera is a 7-megapixel FaceTime HD with f/2.2 aperture, retina flash and wide colour capture.
The iPhone 8 camera is better still. The new 12MP sensor has 83% more light, faster autofocus, hardware multi-band noise reduction and video capture of 4K at 60fps and slo-mo at 240fps in 1080p resolution. The second lens enables Portrait Mode and some new post-shooting effects such as Portrait Lighting Mode, which will launch in beta mode soon. Both sensors are new, with f/1.8 and f/2.8 apertures.
The big deal here is augmented reality: the iPhone 8’s camera was specifically designed for it, and the camera’s more energy efficient sensor means less battery drain during AR apps. We’re very excited about this.
iPhone 8 Plus vs iPhone 7 Plus: battery and charging
Big phones need big batteries, and the iPhone 7 Plus has a whopping 2,900 mAh inside – nearly one-third bigger than the battery in the iPhone 7. We’ve never had battery life problems during even fairly demanding days, with the exception of a few early iOS 11 betas that clearly needed some work in the energy efficiency department.
With the iPhone 8 Plus, wireless charging comes to the party.
iPhone 8 Plus vs iPhone 7 Plus: price
The iPhone 7 Plus price starts at $769 (£719, AU$1,229) for the entry-level 32GB model.
The iPhone 8 Plus starts at $799 and orders start on 15 September.