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Watch: Six months with iPhone 8 Plus

It's been six months since I switched from an iPhone 7 Plus to an iPhone 8 Plus when it and the iPhone 8 were released last September. In this video we take a closer look at the small differences that make, and literally break, Apple's updated handset.

Obviously, the most noticeable change to this year's "Plus" model is the glass back. Yes, mine is cracked, but we'll get to that in a minute.

The glass rear panel not only looks beautiful, but really gives the iPhone that premium feel. The first thing I noticed is that the new design actually adds a little bit of weight compared to the aluminum chassis of yesteryear, just enough to make the phone feel more solid compared to the 7. My favorite part about the change is that, at least in some regions, Apple has finally removed manufacturer and regulatory markings from the back plate. Now, that text is located in the Settings app.

Although the glass back is great, there are some downsides. First of all, it's a fingerprint magnet. I constantly have to wipe it to keep it clean. The 8 feels a lot more "grippy" in your fingers compared to the aluminum-backed 7, but that's not the whole story. It's actually quite slick when placed onto pretty much any material, including cloth. It constantly slides off my lap and it slid off of my pants in the locker room, hence the cracked backed.

The worst part was finding out that a glass back replacement would cost $399, since I decided not to get AppleCare+. I strongly recommend anyone buying an iPhone 8 or X to spring for Apple's warranty or buy a good case.

iPhone 8 Plus Cracked

The glass back isn't just for looks, it also allows for wireless charging, since you obviously can't charge through an aluminum back. I've always thought of inductive smartphone charging as a gimmick, even when Samsung popularized the method with its Galaxy lineup. That is, I did until I got my 8 Plus.

At first, I wasn't really excited and didn't plan on using the feature, but we got a couple of wireless chargers in for review, so I tried it out. That was the first day I got off work with a fully charged battery, and from that point on I was hooked. I no longer have to worry about conserving battery life until I get home late at night, so I have to say that wireless charging is perfect for anyone working in an office setting.

Apple increased the maximum acceptable wireless charging wattage from 5 watts to 7.5 watts, helping it charge just a bit faster if you have a compatible charger.

That brings me to my next point, fast wired charging. Apple claimed that the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X would charge up to 50 percent in 30 minutes using fast charging. The only downside is that you have to purchase one of Apple's USB-C Macbook power adapters and a USB-C to Lightning cable.

We tested the feature in our iPhone 8 Charging Speed Comparison, and found that it charged to 52 percent in only 30 minutes, and reached 100 percent after an hour and a half. For comparison, it takes an extra hour to reach a full charge using the standard charger that comes in the box.

However, we also tested Apple's 12W USB power adapter, which only costs $19, and found that it only takes an extra 15 minutes to reach a full charge when compared to the USB-C charger, so we would definitely recommend going that route.

USB-C Charging

After 6 months of daily usage, my battery life is still amazing, the standby time is incredible, and my iPhone seems to last just as long as when I first got it.

When switching to the 8 Plus from my old 7 plus, I instantly noticed that the speakers were incredibly loud. Apple touts a 25-percent increase in loudness, and I don't doubt that for a second. You may think this isn't a big deal, but just wait until you're trying to watch a video in a noisy environment.

Speaking of audio, let's talk about the headphone jack. I'm wasn't sure why so many people complained about its removal in the iPhone 7, since Apple includes an adapter in the box. They even include updated EarPods with a Lightning Connector. I never touched the adapter. However, you are unable to charge the phone and listen to audio content at the same time.

iPhone 8 Plus Headphone Jack

Luckily, I was gifted Apple's AirPods for Christmas, and they are hands-down the best wireless earphones I have ever used. Since then, I haven't even touched a set of wired earphones. I love AirPods so much that I even bought them for my fiancée. I know they're pretty expensive, but you won't regret buying them.

Now let's talk about the cameras. Although it seems like the 8 Plus is using the same cameras as the 7 Plus, there's a lot more going on inside. The new shooters boast improved image detail, high-dynamic range, low light performance (especially thanks to slow-sync flash) and the ability to record in 4K at 60 frames per second. There's also a new Portrait lighting feature, but to me, it's a gimmick. I've only used it a handful of times, and some of the modes just seem extremely unnatural.

Portrait Mode, on the other hand, is awesome. It really makes the mobile camera feel more like a professional camera. Just make sure to use it in good lighting, or it could look worse than a regular photo.

iPhone 8 Plus Camera

Performance-wise, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus still top the charts in mobile benchmarks, sometimes scoring even better than the iPhone X.

The new Galaxy S9 is the most powerful Samsung phone available, so I decided to compare my six-month-old 8 Plus to the S9+ to see if it's lost any performance over time. As you can see, the 8 Plus comes out on top in every benchmark except for Antutu, which is really impressive, considering the S9+ was released almost a full six months after the 8 Plus. If we look into the details of the Antutu test, the only reason the S9+ performs better is because it has 6GB of RAM instead of only 3GB on the iPhone. The rest of the tests strongly favor the 8 Plus.

Samsung is definitely still trying to keep up, and it won't get any easier when Apple's new iPhone lineup arrives this Fall.

Let's wrap this review up with a comparison to Apple's flagship iPhone X. The iPhone 8 Plus is a great phone, but if you compare it to the iPhone X, it really feels like an old device. The display on the X is worlds better in every single way, except maybe the notch, but it looks like it's here to stay for at least a couple product cycles.

So I would say, if you're thinking of buying an iPhone 8 Plus, definitely consider the iPhone X, or else it'll feel even older when Apple's next lineup of iPhones comes in the fall. If you can bear waiting almost six months until then, that would probably be the best idea at this point in time.