When Apple kicked off its iPhone launch event on Tuesday, things seemed like they were going to be pretty straightforward. The iPhone X was going to be the one to get excited about, and the 8 and 8 Plus would just be a minor improvement on the 7 and 7 Plus, for those that don't want to kick up the extra money for the X.
That didn't actually end up being the case though. The company announced the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus first, and they have a number of exciting new features. The iPhone X announcement followed, and it added some more features that might not even be important to you. Either way, it might have seemed a bit confusing what the differences between the handsets are besides the obvious aesthetic ones. Luckily, Neowin is here to break it down for you.
Let's start with what you'll get across the board. All three new phones include the following features:
- Hexa-core A11 Bionic chip with neural engine and M11 motion coprocessor
- True Tone display
- 4K video recording at 24fps and 60fps (30fps existed previously)
- Slo-mo video at 1080p 240fps
- FLAC audio support
- Wireless Qi charging
- Fast charging (up to 50% charge in 30 minutes)
These are all new features. Obviously, everything that was in the 7 and 7 Plus is in the 8 and the 8 Plus.
Personally, the feature that I wanted the most was 4K video recording at 60fps. I thought that this was going to be exclusive to the iPhone X; after all, these three phones are the first major handsets that can do that. Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 chipset doesn't even support it. I was wrong though, and when I heard that it was in the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, I started to wonder if the iPhone X is even worth the money.
And speaking of money, it's time to break that down next.
|iPhone 8||iPhone 8 Plus||iPhone X|
Obviously, the range in pricing is pretty vast. To be clear, $699 isn't a high starting price at all for a flagship smartphone these days. Samsung's Galaxy S8 starts at $750 from T-Mobile, and the Note8 comes in at $930.
It is a departure from previous models though. A new iPhone used to cost $649, with an additional $100 for each storage tier. When Apple introduced the 'Plus' model with the 6 Plus, that was also an additional $100, starting at $749. And then last year, the iPhone 7 Plus was just a bit more expensive at $769.
But not only are the base models more expensive this time around, but the next storage tier is a $150 price hike.
Display and body
The most obvious difference between the three phones though is the body and the display.
|iPhone 8||iPhone 8 Plus||iPhone X|
|Body||138.4x67.3x7.3mm, 148g||158.4x78.1x7.5mm, 202g||143.6x70.9x7.7mm, 174g|
|Display size||4.7 inches||5.5 inches||5.8 inches|
|Resolution||1334x750, 326ppi||1920x1080, 401ppi||2436x1125, 458ppi|
As you can see, both the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus use LCDs with the same resolutions that they've had since the 6 and 6 Plus. In fact, if you count it by pixel density, the iPhone 8 is the same as the first Retina display with the iPhone 4, at 326ppi.
The improvements come from quality, rather than resolution. They now use True Tone displays, which means higher refresh rates and better colors.
But the iPhone X is OLED, which stands for organic light emitting diodes. While an LCD is entirely backlit, individual pixels can be turned off on an OLED display, allowing for true blacks. They also tend to have more vibrant colors. The iPhone X screen is also HDR (High Dynamic Range), and has very narrow bezels. There's no doubt that if you're going for something that's pleasing to the eye, the iPhone X is your best bet.
Ever since the iPhone 5s was released, Apple has banked heavily on Touch ID. Even last year's MacBook Pros added the feature, rather than a form of facial recognition that would make more sense on a laptop.
And while the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus continue with this tradition, the iPhone X ditches the Home button entirely, meaning no more Touch ID. Instead, the device uses Face ID, or facial recognition.
First of all, the iPhone X uses an IR camera for Face ID, which means that it will work in all lighting conditions, and you won't be able to fool it with a selfie like you can with Samsung's and LG's devices. The only question is of how well this will work in the real world.
Obviously, the iPhone X isn't the first phone to use facial recognition technology, but fingerprint sensors have become dominant for a reason. Apple says that Face ID is even more convenient, but there's simply no way to know for sure until the device is on the market.
In other words, if you're willing to shell out extra money on something new, you'll be alright with the iPhone X (Apple does offer a 14-day return policy), but if you want tried and tested, the Home button is right where it's always been on the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus.
To be honest, the rear cameras on the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus aren't all that different from what they were on the 7 and 7 Plus. They're still 12 megapixels with an f/1.8 aperture, and f/2.8 aperture for the secondary lens on the 8 Plus. There are some new features though, such as the previously mentioned 4K 60fps video recording, and Portrait Lighting on the 8 Plus.
|iPhone 8||iPhone 8 Plus||iPhone X|
|Resolution||12MP||12MP wide-angle and telephoto lens||12MP wide-angle and telephoto lens|
|Aperture||f/1.8||f/1.8, f/2.8||f/1.8, f/2.4|
|Optical image stabilization||OIS||OIS||Dual OIS|
|Portrait Mode and Portrait Lighting||No||Yes||Yes|
The real benefit that you'll get from the iPhone X over the 8 Plus is dual OIS and the larger aperture on the secondary lens. Both of these should improve low-light performance significantly when getting those zoomed in shots.
Once again, the front camera on the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus hasn't changed much since their predecessors. They're still seven megapixels, and they still capture 1080p 30fps video.
The iPhone X does all of that, but it now offers Portrait Mode, which is the iPhone's artificial bokeh feature that was introduced with the rear camera of the 7 Plus. If this was a feature that you enjoyed and you were thinking about how great it would look on your selfies, then the iPhone X is probably the way to go.
One thing that I have to wonder is how the introduction of the iPhone X changes the future of iPhones. Typically, each new iPhone has everything its predecessor had and more, so it seems likely that next year's range of devices will all be bezel-less and lack a Home button. This is just speculation, but if you don't want to spend $999 and you want this form factor, waiting until next year might be your best bet.
But as always, it comes down to what's important to you and how much you're willing to spend to get it. The iPhone X comes with some wonderful new features, but then again, so do the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus.
With the 8 and 8 Plus, you'll be getting the same style as last year's model, albeit with a glass back, and a range of improvements. With the iPhone X, you'd be paying extra money for the OLED display, lack of bezels, a better front and rear camera, and the Face ID that hasn't been tested in the wild.
Pre-orders for the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus kick off on September 15 and the devices will begin shipping on the 22nd, but you won't be able to pre-order an iPhone X until October 27 with it shipping on November 3. In other words, you pretty much have to decide now.