Apple iPhone 8 Plus Review
Apple’s announcement of the iPhone series this year is quite surprising on so many levels. It’s the first time that Apple revealed two completely different iterations of their venerated mobile phone. All eyes were on the iPhone X and the one that’s been overlooked is the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus.
This uneven split in attention between the two iPhones is to be anticipated. There’s no doubt the sexier one is the iPhone X but for those who prefer the more familiar look and feel, as well as the cheaper price tag, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are still a major consideration.
In this review, we took the iPhone 8 Plus to the test. It remains to be the favorite choice of Apple old-timers due to its size, battery capacity and better features like the dual-camera setup at the back.
Design and Construction
The iPhone 8 Plus brings back almost the same design details of the iPhone 7 Plus albeit slightly polished to present itself with a look that’s still unique to its generation. One noticeable difference from the get-go is the overall device construction — the smartphone is now covered in glass, both at the front and back, which gives it a smooth and glossy look while retaining its IP67 water and dust resistance rating.
It still has the same 5.5-inch Retina display as its predecessor with a Full HD resolution which amounts to a 401ppi pixel density. The front also has the same 7-megapixel Facetime camera, the usual sensors, and the circular home button with a built-in Touch ID and uses 3D touch to navigate around.
Its sides are still rounded which provides a solid grip, and the antenna bands are clearly visible with darker hues compared to the aluminum frame. On the left side, we can see the volume keys and the mute switch.
Looking on the right, we can see the power/lock button and just below it is the smartphone’s lone sim card slot.
At the bottom part of the iPhone 8 Plus is the lightning port placed at the center and is being guarded by two speakers located on both sides.
Flipping the iPhone 8 Plus, we will see its glass back which gives the smartphone its shine and smoothness, and the protruding dual 12-megapixel rear cameras still placed horizontally at the upper-left corner along with the accompanying quad-tone LED Flash.
On hands, it feels a lot like the iPhone 7 Plus but with a glass back. There are some changes in its dimensions though as it is slightly taller, wider, thicker, and heavier compared to its predecessor, which can be attributed to the improved internals and materials used.
Although it feels nice and solid on the hand, we can’t help but think about accidental drops since we now have two glasses to worry about. Still, this can be resolved by purchasing and installing a good case and screen protector.
Display and Multimedia
The iPhone 8 Plus sports the same screen size and resolution as the iPhone 7 Plus which is a 5.5-inch screen at Full HD resolution which equates to 401ppi. It’s still called Retina HD, has the same 1300:1 contrast ratio and brightness, and supports 3D Touch.
The new feature here though is True Tone which automatically adapts the iPhone’s display based on ambient lighting conditions. It can transition from cool to warm as well as automatically adjusts the brightness. That said, the iPhone 8 Plus’s display is nice and comfortable to look at.
Like the iPhone 7 Plus, the iPhone 8 Plus sports dual speakers – one at the bottom (right grille) and the other at the earpiece. This kind of setup allows for stereo output although the quality and loudness are different from each other. As expected, the bottom-firing speaker is louder and richer compared to the earpiece. Overall quality is great as it is loud and rich with noticeable bass, making it a good device for watching movies, gaming, or listening to audio tracks.
OS, UI, and Apps
Running the iPhone’s software department is Apple’s latest operating system, iOS 11. Our unit currently runs the recently released iOS 11.0.1. The layout is still similar to iOS 10 but with aesthetic changes like the redesigned Control Center which now uses widgets and takes advantage of the whole screen, a new App Store which uses a magazine-like approach when it comes to displaying featured apps, and new wallpapers. There’s also the File app which is like a one-stop-shop for your cloud-based drives. The rest of the features are implemented under the hood. You can read more about it here.
Upon first boot up, the iPhone 8 Plus is pretty much bare-bones and only comes with basic applications, however, we noticed that some of it have to be downloaded or updated like Mail, Maps, Home, Notes, Videos, iBooks, Watch, and Podcasts, before you can use them. It’s weird and cumbersome, but once you’re done with the process you can now start downloading your favorite apps from the App Store.
The new iPhones only come in two storage variants – 64GB and 256GB. The former is a good starting point considering the inability of iPhones to support microSD cards. Our 64GB unit has 58.9GB of usable storage out of the box, which is not bad. If you dive inside Settings you will be given recommendations on how to save storage space like the ability to offload unused apps, delete apps (even some of Apple’s default apps), and review videos and photos for deletion.
The iPhone 8 Plus has the same camera specs as the iPhone 7 Plus so we’re talking about 12MP wide-angle f/1.8 and telephoto f/2.8 rear cameras. It has optical image stabilization, can offer up to 10x digital zoom, and has Quad-LED True Tone flash with Slow Sync. What Slow Sync does is it captures subjects in low-light with a slow shutter speed and a short strobe pulse. This allows for a shot with an illuminated foreground with a properly exposed background.
Portrait mode is still present here but with a new feature called Portrait Lighting (Beta), which uses facial detection and depth maps to capture portraits with lighting effects. It’s currently only available to the iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X so that’s an advantage. The feature still needs work as it doesn’t always work well in various lighting conditions (hence the Beta status) but it’s already fun to use.
Image quality and performance, as expected, are good, especially in bright conditions. Images appear sharp with plenty of details and accurate colors. Low-light performance is okay and can still produce decent photos although peppered with noise. Selfies, on the other hand, is handled by the same 7MP f/2.2 FaceTime HD camera with Retina Flash. Quality is also good and has face-tracking and 1080p video recording.
For video recording, the iPhone 8 Plus can record videos at up to 4K resolution at 60fps, while slow-motion videos are up to 1080p at 240fps. Do note though that iOS 11 allows the use of the new HEIF (High-Efficiency Image File Format) and HEVC (High-Efficiency Video Codec) formats for photos and videos to reduce file size. Users may still choose to use JPEG and H.264 formats but 4K 60fps and 1080p 240fps will not be available. In addition, HEIF photos would need to be converted if you’re going to import them to your PC or other desktop applications.
Performance and Benchmarks
Powering the iPhone 8 Plus is Apple’s most powerful chipset to-date, the A11 Bionic chip with Neural Engine and embedded M11 motion coprocessor. According to Apple, it features four efficiency cores that are up to 70% faster than the A10 Fusion and two performance cores that are up to 25% faster. The GPU, on the other hand, is up to 30% faster than the A10 Fusion.
What all of that translates to is that the iPhone 8 Plus can easily whatever tasks you throw at it including photography, gaming, and AR applications. We never experienced any lags or crashes in its apps or features although we noticed some warming near the camera when shooting in 4K but not a cause for concern.
When it comes to performance and benchmarks, the iPhone 8 Plus is one of the highest scorers in AnTuTu. We compared it with current flagships we reviewed and this is how they rank:
Here’s the iPhone 8 Plus’s score on Geekbench
* 4,254 (Single-Core)
* 10,273 (Multi-Core)
* 15,306 (Metal)
Connectivity and Call Quality
Connectivity-wise, the iPhone 8 Plus received some improvements as well which includes 4G LTE-A, 802.11ac WiFi with MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and QZSS, and NFC with reader mode meaning it can read NFC Tags via an app. Still no headphone jack but there’s a Lightning to 3.5mm headphone jack adapter included in the package.
So far, connectivity works as advertised as we can easily get LTE signal indoors and navigation apps such as Google Maps and Waze can lock on our location quickly. Call quality is great even in noisy environments thanks to noise cancellation.
The iPhone 8 Plus packs a 2,675mAh battery which is lower than the 2,900mAh battery found on the iPhone 7 Plus. However, Apple says that it can last about the same. We were able to get a whole day of moderate use which includes social media browsing and some streaming on Spotify and Netflix. What can take a toll on its battery life is gaming and taking high-resolution videos.
Our video loop test, which consists of playing a Full HD clip on loop in Airplane mode at 50% brightness and volume with headset plugged in (using the adapter), yielded 12 hours and 35 minutes of playback which is good, and better than the 10.5 hours we got from the iPhone 7 Plus last year.
Another new feature for the iPhone 8 Plus is wireless charging. It supports Qi chargers in the market or you can purchase Apple’s own called the AirPower. Either way, you might need to shell out extra for this accessory.
The iPhone 8 Plus is, without a doubt, one of Apple’s most powerful smartphones to date. Although sporting a new number in its name, it still has a strong affinity to the iPhone 7 Plus and we can’t help but compare. That’s because the iPhone 8 Plus is basically the upgraded version of its predecessor, or if we follow the company’s nomenclature, this is could have been the iPhone 7s Plus.
Should you get the iPhone 8 Plus? Sure, if it’s your first iPhone and but can’t shell out yet for the iPhone X, or if you’re upgrading from the iPhone 7 and older. Android users will find this as a less attractive option though especially if they’re looking for something that sports newer tech and has thinner bezels. To sum it up, the iPhone 8 Plus is a great phone, but considering the pace at which its competitors are innovating, this doesn’t bring a lot of new things on the table.
Apple iPhone 8 Plus specs:
5.5-inch Retina display @ 1920 x 1080 px, 401ppi
TrueTone, 3D Touch
Apple A11 Bionic chip
64GB, 256GB internal storage
12MP f/1.8 wide-angle + 12MP f/2.4 telephoto rear cameras with Quad Tone Flash
7MP FaceTime Camera
Single SIM (Nano)
GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS
IP67 Dust and Water Resistance
2,675mAh non-removable Li-Ion battery
Qi Wireless Charging
158.4 mm x 78.1 mm x 7.5mm
What we liked:
* Premium build
* Great performance
* Nice display
* Powerful cameras with new features
* Wireless charging
* iOS 11
What we didn’t:
* Same design as the iPhone 7 Plus