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Early reviews paint Apple's iPhone 8 & 8 Plus as good devices overshadowed by iPhone X

Ahead of the devices' Sept. 22 launch, some reviews of the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are already beginning to trickle in, comparing them against both earlier iPhone models and the elephant in the room, the OLED-based iPhone X shipping Nov. 3.

CNET called the iPhone 8 a "nice upgrade" from devices like the iPhone 6s, but described the phone as essentially the "iPhone 7s" it was once rumored to be, with changes including a faster A11 processor, better camera technology, wireless charging, and a glass back, as well as 64 gigabytes of base storage. The site was more enthusiastic about the iPhone 8 Plus, calling attention to camera features like its upgraded Portrait mode and cleaner low-light shots. The site commented though that people considering a Plus might want to wait for the iPhone X to see whether the latter's upgrades are worth it.

Engadget was more enthusiastic, insisting that the 8 and 8 Plus are "definitely much more" than "7s" models, packing "great cameras, improved software and absolutely first-rate performance" into what it admitted was a "less exciting" design.

"They might not have the X's style, but the 8 and 8 Plus are truly excellent phones that won't let Apple die-hards and new customers down," the site concluded.

The Verge said it couldn't think of a "single compelling reason" to upgrade from an iPhone 7, especially given software-based upgrades coming with iOS 11, cheap wireless charging cases, and third-party apps that can replicate the iPhone 8 Plus's Portrait Lighting technology. Like CNET, it suggested the phones would be worthwhile for people upgrading from pre-7 models, but that people eyeing an 8 Plus might want to consider stepping up to an X.

The iPhone 8 is "Apple's new default phone," it said, adding that while "it's pretty great that a default phone is actually this good," it's "not the future, and it's not the cutting edge."

TechCrunch noted that it was effectively doing a camera review, not just because of the typical demand for high-quality photos and video, but because of the importance of augmented reality and computer vision. The iPhone 8 is "still going to get you most of the way to 'the best' — especially when it comes to the camera," the site said, specifically urging people to get an 8 Plus for its "really incredible" Portrait Lighting feature. Only people who automatically buy the highest-end iPhone every year should wait for the iPhone X, it remarked.

AppleInsider is currently at work on its own iPhone 8 review, coming soon.