Apple has unveiled the latest editions to the iPhone line with three new models. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are iterations over last year’s iPhone 7 models, and the iPhone X is Apple’s vision of the future.
If you are in the market for a new iPhone, you’ve never had more choices. While more choices are usually a good thing, it can leave you confused when trying to choose the best iPhone for you. In this guide, we cover everything you need to know to make your next iPhone purchase.
The Big Differences
The first question people ask when Apple releases a new iPhone is, “what’s different?” While there are a surprising amount of similarities between the new iPhones, there’s still plenty to set them apart.
When you see the iPhone 8 models next to the iPhone X, the first thing you will notice is the design differences. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus look almost identical to the iPhone 7 line from last year.
The only major cosmetic change is the new glass back on both models which enables wireless charging, which we will get to. The jump to the iPhone 8 name is mostly marketing as these very easily could of received the “7s” moniker.
The iPhone X, however, has a brand new nearly bezel-less design. The front of the device is all screen except for a notch at the top which houses the front-facing camera.
This is the iPhone’s first real design refresh in three years, and it looks incredible. If being on the cutting edge of design matters to you, or if you’re just tired of the current iPhone design, the iPhone X finally breaks from tradition.
OLED v. LCD
It’s been rumored for a few years that Apple would be making the switch to OLED displays. The iPhone X finally makes it a reality. In true Apple fashion, the company says the display on the iPhone X is the first OLED display good enough to be in an iPhone. Some advantages of OLED are deep blacks, vivid colors, less energy consumption and a thin profile since they do not need to be backlit like LCD displays.
The primary drawback for Apple has been accurate color reproduction, which iPhones are known for. Competing OLED phones have been knocked for over saturation and poor color reproduction. Assuming the iPhone X has none of these problems, the display should provide a richer experience than any other iPhone.
The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus will continue to use Touch ID to unlock your phone and verify who you are. Since the iPhone X does not have a Home button, Touch ID has been replaced with Face ID. Face ID uses a slew of front-facing sensors along with the camera to verify your identity with better accuracy than Touch ID. Apple claims the chances of someone spoofing Face ID is one in a million compared to Touch ID’s one in 50,000. Other companies have released half-baked facial recognition features in the past, but Apple claims Face ID is miles ahead of anything else out there.
Despite all of these claims, Face ID immediately became infamous when it “allegedly” failed in its first public appearance on stage during the launch event. However, the company has provided a reasonable explanation of what happed and assures customers that the feature works great.
There were rumors both the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus would feature a duel-camera setup, but things didn’t pan out that way. The iPhone 8 still has a single shooter and the 8 Plus has a horizontal dual-camera module.
The same year over year story applies with these cameras. They are better than last year’s models. However, it’s important not to undermine the improvements. Both models can now shoot 4K video in 60 fps, which is absurd. The cameras also have deeper pixels allowing them to capture more light which will improve low-light performance.
If you haven’t picked up on the trend yet, the major changes have been reserved for the iPhone X. The iPhone X features a vertical duel-camera setup on the back and an incredibly sophisticated front-facing camera. Starting on the back, one camera is wide-angle and the other telephoto, just like the 8 Plus. Unlike the 8 Plus, both cameras on the iPhone X have optical image stabilization, a first on an iPhone. This will keep videos smooth and pictures sharp even when you zoom in and use the telephoto lens.
The iPhone X rear cameras should be excellent, but the more interesting innovations are up front. Even though there are not two cameras on the front, the array of sensors used for Face ID also allow you to use Portrait mode. If you are into taking selfies, they will look better than ever on the iPhone X.
There is also a new feature available for Portrait photos which Apple calls Portrait Lighting. This allows you to change lighting effects in real time in Portrait Mode to create some dramatic shots. You can also apply Portrait Lighting to photos after the fact as well.
Another new iPhone X front-facing camera feature is called Animojis. If you didn’t guess from the name, this is a fun feature which makes it look as if an animal emoji is moving and talking using your movements and voice.
The front-facing sensors superimpose your facial movements onto the emoji. As silly as the feature is, the affect is admittedly impressive.
Apple has cut down on colors in this year’s iPhone line. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus come in Silver, Space Gray and a new shade of Gold. The Gold color is the most striking and the hue is in the middle of previous Gold and Rose Gold models.
The glass on the back of the new models have a slick shiny look compared to prior matte aluminum iPhones. They are closer to the look of last year’s Jet Black finish.
The iPhone X will come in only Space Gray and Silver at launch, although there are rumors a Gold color will follow in the coming year. What’s notable with the X models is both colors receive black faceplates. This is the first time a non Black or Space Gray iPhone has received a black faceplate. The look does compliment the near bezel-less display much better than a white faceplate would have.
The availability may end up being a major factor in your purchasing decision. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus begin shipping on September 22. At the time of this writing, both models are back ordered 1-2 weeks. Although if you order one now, you will most likely receive it before pre-orders for the iPhone X begin.
It’s almost a guarantee at this point that the iPhone X will be in short supply. Pre-orders start on October 27 and devices will be “available” on November 3. However, predictions are it will difficult to get your hands on an iPhone X by the end of the year. Traditionally, devices go on sale at midnight Pacific Standard Time, so if you want an iPhone X this year I recommend staying awake and pre-ordering the moment they go on sale.
iPhones are already considered premium products, but prices have gone up this year and the iPhone X takes things to the next level.
The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus start at $699 and $799 respectfully for a 64GB model. The only other option this year is a 256GB model which runs $150 more.
The iPhone X also comes with either 64GB or 256GB and will run a whopping $999 and $1,149 respectively. If you are shopping on a budget, you’ll want to steer clear of the iPhone X.
What’s the Same?
For all of their differences, the iPhone 8 and X models have a surprising amount of similarities. Although the naming don’t create this feeling, both models should be on par with one another in performance and both have some major new features.
A11 Bionic Processor
Apple’s latest silicon is the A11 Bionic processor which no surprise is better and faster than last year’s chip. It’s hard to get the everyday iPhone consumer excited about processor improvements, but the improvements this year deserve the description of “game changing.”
In the past, Apple’s Fusion processor have switched back and forth between low-power cores and high-power cores depending on the task. All of the cores were never used at the same time. The A11 Bionic processor continues to use the low-power cores and draws power from the high-performance cores when needed. If you aren’t getting it, this means all the iPhone cores are able to be used at the same time tremendously increasing the iPhone’s capability.
The increased performance capabilities of the new iPhones will be really be noticed with augmented reality apps. If you missed the iPhone event, Apple showed off a few augmented reality demos which were incredible. The company has put a lot of attention on augmented reality and with iOS 11, augmented reality is here.
All the new iPhone models support wireless charging. It’s exciting iPhones finally support wireless charging, but this is more of a “finally” feature than an innovation. What was a surprise is that the new iPhones support the Qi wireless standard rather than using something proprietary. Qi is most widely supported wireless standard and iPhone support will only increase its adoption.
What About the iPhone 7?
If you are arguably a more reasonable human being who doesn’t need to be on the cutting edge of technology or you’re just shopping on a budget, you can now pick up an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus at a discount.
For plenty of consumers, the 7 and 7 Plus will continue to more than capable for the next few years. The cameras are fantastic, performance is great and the devices will support Apple’s push into augmented reality, albeit the experience will not as smooth as with the new models. If you are coming from an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus is still a worthwhile upgrade if you don’t want to go all out on a brand new model.