Ten years after the launch of the original iPhone, Apple's latest refresh of the product line skips the 'iPhone 7s' name in favor of the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. Unlike the iPhone X, the iPhone 8 family keeps close to the familiar iPhone design, with the glass backed smartphones now able to be wirelessly charged.
4.7 and 5.5-inch LCD screens
A11 Bionic processor
Glass back cover
12MP dual-lens camera on Plus model
Single 12MP rear camera on 4.7-inch model
Optical Image Stabilization
64GB, 256GB capacities
Shipped September 22
Priced from $699
Launched as part of Apple's September event alongside the iPhone X, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are considered the annual revision of the iPhone range. While the iPhone X boasts a new display and Face ID, the iPhone 8 device family gives users a more familiar design that retains the Home button, while also offering upgraded, higher-performance internals compared to 2016's iPhone 7 range.
Taking its cue from previous generations, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus have the same general appearance of earlier devices. The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus have custom front and rear glass, made with a 50 percent deeper strengthening layer, fitted onto a steel substructure and surrounded with an aerospace-grade 7000 Series aluminum band.
At the top of the face side of both phones are the FaceTime camera, microphone, and speaker, with the Home button featuring Touch ID towards the base. At the bottom edge is a Lightning connector, another microphone, and a stereo speaker grille. On the left side are the volume buttons and the Ring/Silent switch, with a side button on the opposite edge.
On the back side are the familiar camera bumps seen in previous generations. The iPhone 8 uses a single camera lens while the Plus model has two camera sensors in the standard horizontal arrangement, with both sets of cameras flanked by a flash.
The iPhone 8 measures 5.45 inches tall by 2.65 inches wide and is 7.3 millimeters (0.29 inch) thick. The Plus is much larger, measuring 6.24 inches tall by 3.07 inches wide, but is only 0.2 millimeters thicker at 7.7 millimeters (0.30 inch). While the iPhone 8 weighs 5.22 ounces, the bigger Plus weighs in at 7.13 ounces.
Continuing from the iPhone 7 family, both the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus have IP67 water and dust resistance.
The iPhone 8's display is a 4.7-inch LCD IPS screen, with a resolution of 1334 by 750 pixels, giving it a pixel density of 326. The Plus has a 5.5-inch LCD IPS display, with its 1920 by 1080 resolution equating to a pixel density of 401ppi. In terms of contrast ratio, the iPhone 8's is higher than the Plus, identified as 1400:1 and 1300:1 respectively.
Both are Wide Color (P3) displays, offering a maximum brightness of 625 cd/m2, support 3D Touch, and have an oleophobic coating to minimize fingerprint marks.
New to the iPhone 8 range this year is True Tone, a display technology first seen in the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. Sensors monitoring the ambient light of the iPhone's surroundings change the white point and brightness of the display to make it more comfortable to view in changing environments, what Apple calls a “paper-like viewing experience.” TrueTone can also help ease eyestrain by changing the screen's color, and prevent overexposure to blue-toned light.
A11 Bionic Chip
The iPhone 8 uses the 64-bit A11 Bionic chip with M11 motion coprocessor, a chip that Apple also uses for the iPhone X. The A11 improves upon the A10 Fusion used in the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus by adding more cores, retaining the two high-power cores and increasing the number of high-efficiency cores from the two used in the A10 to four.
This new chip offers overall more performance than the A10, with the high-efficiency cores claimed to be 70 percent faster in the A11, while the two performance cores offer a 25-percent improvement. The chip also includes the first Apple-designed GPU, which itself is 30 percent faster than the GPU used in the A10.
While the iPhone 8 lacks the Face ID of the iPhone X, the A11's power still makes it more than capable of handling 3D applications and games, as well as the world-tracking and scene recognition requirements of augmented reality apps using ARKit. Apple has also included a new image signal processor, which will aid the cameras in providing faster autofocus in low light conditions, improve pixel processing, and offer better noise reduction.
The iPhone 8 has a single 12 megapixel f/1.8 camera on the back, equipped with a 5x digital zoom. The Plus model has two 12 megapixel cameras, with the wide-angle f/1.8 aperture camera accompanied by an f/2.8-aperture telephoto version. This pair of cameras offers an optical zoom and a 10x digital zoom.
Both versions use six-element lenses with a sapphire crystal lens cover and feature optical image stabilization, backside illumination sensors, a hybrid IR filter, and a quad-LED True Tone flash. Offering automatic image stabilization and HDR for photos, the rear cameras also include body and face detection, Live Photos with stabilization, autofocus using Focus Pixels, burst and timer modes, noise reduction, and improved local tone mapping.
For video, the rear cameras can capture 4K 60fps video, as well as 1080p at up to 120fps and 720p at 240 in slo-mo modes, with the latter two resolutions also able to use cinematic video stabilization alongside the optical image stabilization. Body and face detection is also available in video, as well as continuous autofocus, noise reduction, and the ability to take 8 megapixel still photos while recording 4K video. The iPhone 8 Plus is also able to use optical zoom in videos, as well as a 6x digital zoom.
On the front for both devices is the FaceTime HD camera, which uses a 7-megapixel BSI sensor and an aperture of f/2.2. Capable of recording 1080p video, the FaceTime cameras offer automatic HDR for photographs, body and face detection, auto image stabilization, burst and timer modes, and a Retina Flash.
The iPhone 8 Plus also benefits from improvements to the Portrait mode, which uses the two rear cameras to produce a blurry bokeh effect in photographs. The new Portrait Lighting feature can apply five different lighting styles, changing not only the lighting effects visible on the subject itself, but also potentially eliminating the background altogether, giving a stage lighting effect to the portrait.
To improve photographs in low-light situations, Apple has included a Slow-Sync flash feature that keeps the shutter open for longer and reduces the brightness of the flash itself. Though this can introduce motion blur, the resulting shot illuminates the subject evenly without any harsh bright spots, with more details visible in dark backgrounds.
Wireless Charging and Battery
According to Apple, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus lasts “about the same” as the iPhone 7 device family in terms of battery life.
The iPhone 8 is advised to have a talk time of up to 14 hours on a single charge, and lasts up to 12 hours for Internet use, up to 13 hours for wireless video playback, and up to 40 hours for wireless audio playback. The iPhone 8 Plus boosts the same usage types to maximums of 21 hours, 13 hours, 14 hours, and 60 hours respectively.
Both the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus benefit from a fast-charge capability, which allows the smartphones to reach a 50 percent charge within 30 minutes. It is worth noting that this fast-charging performance won't be available out of the box, as it will require Apple's 29W USB-C power adaptors to attain that charging speed, instead of using the included 5W USB-A charger.
The glass back has enabled the iPhone to embrace wireless charging, with the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus supporting the open Qi protocol. This effectively allows the iPhone 8 to be charged using a wide array of existing wireless charging systems, including those installed in some stores and restaurants.
Apple is also working on its own wireless charging accessory that it hopes will simplify charging of multiple devices. Expected in 2018, AirPower is a large charging pad with enough space to fit an iPhone, the AirPods wireless charging case, and the Apple Watch Series 3 at the same time, with all three devices charging simultaneously.
Current rumors claim Apple will start selling the AirPower mat in its stores as soon as this March.
AppleInsider's testing of iPhone 8 charging methods reveals wireless charging occurs at roughly the same rate as a connection with the included 5W adapter, taking 2.5 hours to fully charge an iPhone 8 Plus.
Originally, the wireless charging capability was limited to 5 watts, but this has since changed. Included as part of the iOS 11.2 update, Apple has enabled all compatible wireless charging devices to transfer power at 7.5 watts, speeding up the battery recharge time when using the technology.
Using a combination of a 29W adapter and a USB-C to Lightning cable adapter that supports USB Power Delivery is the current fastest charging method at one and a half hours total, with the fast charging element allowing it to reach 52 percent charge after 30 minutes.
In late October, Apple issued a support document detailing the brands of auto maker that supports iPhone wireless charging in their vehicles. The initial list includes models from Buick, Cadilac, Chevrolet, and GMC, though it is noted that only specific models meeting the Qi standard Apple relies on will actually charge the iPhone.
Connectivity, Location, and Other Sensors
Apart from the Lightning port at the base of the iPhone 8, the wireless connectivity options in the handsets include 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0, and NFC connectivity, the latter of which can be used for Apple Pay transactions. Cellular connectivity ranges from GSM/EDGE to LTE, with Voice over LTE (VoLTE) supported by a number of carriers for higher quality call audio.
For navigation, supported satellite-based services include assisted GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and QZSS, with added support from cellular networks, Wi-Fi hotspots, and iBeacons. Other sensors, aside from the TrueDepth array, include a barometer, three-axis gyro, an accelerometer, proximity sensor, and ambient light sensor.
Lastly, there is the inclusion of a fingerprint reader incorporated into the Home button, used for Apple's Touch ID authentication system.
Colors, Pricing, and Availability
Both the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are available in a choice of Silver, Gold, and Space Gray finishes. Pre-orders for both handsets commenced on September 15, and retail outlets and carriers started selling the smartphones from September 22.
The iPhone 8 ships in two capacities, with the 64 gigabyte model priced at $699 off-contract and the 256 gigabyte version selling for $849 off-contract. The iPhone 8 Plus is also available in both capacities, priced at $799 and $949 off-contract respectively.
As to be expected for an iPhone launch, the iPhone 8 was in high demand when it went on sale, complete with lines outside some stores ahead of release. Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed in a launch day interview that there were localized sellouts of the iPhone 8 and the Apple Watch Series 3, but advised there was still a "good supply" of devices heading to those locations.
There were some reports that there were low sales in some stores, including parts of New York City and Sydney. It is thought consumers waiting for the iPhone X may have contributed to the perceived reduced sales in these areas.
KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo played down reports of shorter lines, suggesting they were exaggerated by an "excessively negative market," with a note to investors on September 16. Suggesting the iPhone 8 Plus outsld the iPhone 8, Kuo agrees that the lines are due to customers waiting for the iPhone X's release, but notes demand is still in line with Apple's production plan.
The week before the iPhone X launch, a report from the Consumer Intelligence Research Partners claims the 8-family's share of total iPhone sales in the United States looks similar to what an "iPhone 7s" would have been, based on previous sales data. The latest sales data also indicates the iPhone 8 Plus is outselling the iPhone 8.
Another report released at the same time by investment firm UBS and 451 Research polled 3,840 consumers about their buying intentions and reports the iPhone X and 8-series have generated more interest from consumers than in iPhone releases in the last two years.
The customary teardown from iFixit reports the iPhone 8 has a similar internal structure to the iPhone 7, with relatively few changes. Key alterations include the glass back and wireless charging, changes in screws used internally, a bracket to secure the Taptic Engine module, and new interconnects and cables for power and data routing.
A small number of iPhone 8 users have reported issues with the smartphone's audio in the opening days of availability, noticing a "crackling" or "static noise" from the ear speaker during calls. A statement from Apple on September 26 advised it is "aware of the issue," and that a team is working on a fix "which will be included in an upcoming software release."
Apple's iOS 11.0.2 update, released on October 3, included a fix for the crackling problem.
Initial shipment estimates from Canalys suggest Apple has shipped approximately 11 million iPhones to China in the September quarter, a year-on-year increase of 40 percent, marking Apple's best performance in the market in eight quarters. As well as overall increased sales, the mix of iPhone 8 sales at launch is also claimed to be higher than the corresponding mix of iPhone 7 sales at its own launch last year, despite high excitement for the iPhone X.
On November 11, supply chain reports from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo indicates the high sales of the iPhone 8 Plus is "cannibalizing demand" for the iPhone 8, prompting some of Apple's manufacturing partners to switch production lines from the iPhone 8 to the Plus and the iPhone X to fix supply and demand balance issues.
The iOS 11.2 update on December 2 upgraded the wireless charging speed from 5 watts to 7.5 watts.