There are benchmarks and specs -- and then there are actual use cases that may differ between the iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X. AppleInsider has spent over a week with the iPhone X now, and here's what we think about it, versus the iPhone 8 Plus.
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I've been using the iPhone X since it launched a week ago, and in this video I want to talk to you about how it compares to the iPhone 8 Plus. This isn't a full comparison --- and I'm not going to cover every new detail, for that, see our full review.
I want to get away from the spec sheets and benchmarks and just talk about the user experience. Was it worth switching over? What really surprised me, and what I've been disappointed with.
One of the biggest changes is obviously the display, and I have to admit I was a bit disappointed at first. I'm not talking about the brightness, colors, or contrast which are all fantastic. My disappointments came from the size. Even though the iPhone X is rated at 5.8 inches compared to 5.5 inches of the iPhone 8 Plus, the actual surface area of the display is slightly smaller and that's if you're using the full display. This difference is definitely noticeable when you use the X for a bit.
If you're in an app that hasn't been updated or watching video without the annoying notch getting in the way you'll be viewing a 4.96 inch display, so very close to the regular 4.7-inch iPhone 8 which explains why the display feels so small. This may not be a big deal to everyone but I love large high quality displays, in fact I didn't even buy an iPhone until the 6 Plus was released since the screens were in my opinion too small.
After a week of use, I've gotten used to the phone and a few more apps have been updated to the use the full display and honestly I don't mind it as much. Yes I do miss the larger display at times but using the iPhone 8 Plus again I realized that I'd much rather have the narrower display for day to day use that fits so well in the hand, especially if Apple does a few software tweaks for video.
With that let's move to the notch, I'm not a fan, but I'll have to deal with it. As both a content creator one who watches a ton of video I have to say that notch does not disappear for me. Whats even worse is the full screen crop. Apple and Google only give us one option, view a smaller screen which isn't the end of the world or go fullscreen and deal with an ugly cutout and cutting off heads. The director, filmmaker, or content creator who made that video you're watching likely likely framed that video a specific way, and with the crop you're losing a part of that.
This is an easy software fix, I'd love to be able to adjust the zoom when going fullscreen to avoid that notch but get a larger display, or at least adjust the video vertically. For those that view a lot of 16-by-9 content, the iPhone 8 Plus is still king with a noticeably larger display and no cutouts to deal with.
With all of that out of the way, Touch ID is dead. Yes Face ID has limitations, at times it's slower than touch ID, and I have to enter my passcode manual more often than before but it's well worth it. Most of the time it's quick enough that I don't notice it and the being able to log into secure apps automatically and use the safari autofill without having to move my hands or even think about it is glorious. We have a few video on that which you can check out by clicking the card above. After a week there's no way I'd want to go back to using touch ID, The convenience is too great and few limitations it has will be improved over time. The sensor array also provides for incredible facial tracking for things like animoji which I've only used a few times, and selfie portrait mode. The latter hasn't been optimized yet and is experiencing similar issues like too much blur and messy edges that we got when the rear facing portrait mode launched, so I'm avoiding it for now.
Now let's talk about the other big change we have from of the removal of Touch ID, the gestures.
Swiping up to go home has become the new normal but isn't really any better than using the home button. On the other hand I really like the quick app switcher at the bottom of the screen. As someone who multi tasks often this has been amazing and I still get a bit excited every time I swipe through apps. The regular app switcher has taken a big step backwards. Not only does it take longer to open it and sometimes requires a few tried, you now have to hold down the app until an icon shows up to close it. Once again if you don't hold it long enough and swipe you'll have to re-do the process. Some say Apple wants to discourage people from habitually closing apps, but there are certain apps like navigation, music, or youtube, where it was much faster to double tap and swipe to close than go into the app and stop what it's doing, and then have it annoyingly auto resume when you get in your car or connect to a bluetooth device. Apple, I can deal with the the drag and hold but at least let us quickly swipe to close.
My other complain is the control center. Unlike the iPhone 8 where you swipe up from the bottom to access now you have to wipe up from the top right which is much less comfortable. Swiping from the bottom right would be easier, or at least let us swipe dow along the right side of the display. I understand Apple doesn't want to confuse you since you swiping up is now the home button, but swiping we now have three swipe down commands. From the top middle or left for notifications, right for control center, and anywhere below that for siri search. Yes you can enable reachability for another swipe down gesture, but that makes control center a two step command with a lot of thumb movement where on the iPhone 8 it was much quicker and easier.
Overall the iPhone 8's familiar commands are more efficient, and the best new gesture, quick app switching. could easily be added to older iphones.
The other last noticeable change I want to touch on is the the telephoto camera. Its slightly faster and now features optical image stabilization and the difference is huge. For handheld videos we have much smoother footage and for photos the iPhone can now use slower shutter speeds resulting in a lot less noise and the ability to use portrait mode in darker environments.
Those are really the biggest changes I noticed. Yes, the OLED display has amazing contrast and is brighter but the iPhone 8 Plus has arguably the best LCD display in a phone so the difference isn't huge. The speakers are now more balanced but the 8's are also one of the best on the market. Most of the internals are are identical so the performance is on par, both being excellent. Battery life is similar, and both feature wireless charging.
So was it worth switching to the iPhone X? For me, yes, but i'm a techie and a bit addicted to having the latest and greatest. The display and notch is a downgrade for video, but the dual stabilization is a big upgrade and that matters since I take a lot of portrait mode photos and video. And lastly after getting used to the smaller size the 8 plus feels unwieldy.
If you're contemplating upgrading to the iPhone X, but are OK with the size of your phone and watch a lot of video I'd say stick it out another year. Sure, Face ID is cool, but If you can wait we should see some good improvements and tweaks with the second generation versions of everything that is new this year.