iPhone 8 Plus review


    iPhone 8 Plus review

    Apple unveiled the exciting but extremely expensive iPhone X on 12 Sept, but before it got to that the company also revealed 2017's more prosaic smartphone update: the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus.

    In our iPhone 8 Plus review we weigh up the design, features, specs and pricing of Apple's new phablet to help you decide if it's the best phone for you. We also put it through our rigorous battery of benchmark tests, covering processing speed, graphics and battery charging.
    iPhone 8 Plus review

    Design & build quality

    The iPhone 8 Plus is an incremental update to the 7 Plus (as opposed to the dramatically redesigned iPhone X unveiled on the same night) and therefore has largely the same design as the 7, 6s and 6-generation handsets. It's a classic design but one's that's now three years old and starting to feel a little dated. If you're looking for radical new designs, this isn't the device for you.

    The curved edges remain pleasant in the hand, and the slight increase in weight since the last generation (it's gone up from 188g to 202g) adds rather than detracts from the feel in our opinion, although your mileage may vary. It's also a shade longer, wider and thicker, although only a fraction of a millimetre in each case.

    • iPhone 7 Plus: 158.2mm x 77.9mm x 7.3mm; 188g
    • iPhone 8 Plus: 158.4mm x 78.1mm x 7.5mm; 202g

    The rear cameras still stick out, so that you're basically obliged to use a case. An uncased 8 Plus cannot lie properly flat on a hard surface, and will wobble around annoyingly if you touch the top left corner. Most will use a case, however, particularly given that the heavily touted drop resistance of the glass back remains unproven.

    There have been some small (and not-so-small) tweaks to the design in that time; like the 7 handsets, for instance, the 8 Plus does not have a headphone port and features a buzzing, solid-state Home button instead of the clicking version seen in previous years. This year's biggest design change is the above-mentioned glass back, which means it supports wireless charging - which we'll discuss more in a bit.

    Having glass across the back instead of metal gives it a shinier, smoother finish that we like. (Apple has also made the back look cleaner and neater by drastically reducing the information printed below the iPhone branding, but this may make it harder for people to work out which iPhone model they've got.)

    On the gold model it also makes the general colour effect more subtle, since the glass section reveals a pale pinkish-white section rather than the darker pink gold seen around the edge of the device and surrounding the Home button and rear cameras. Pink gold is one of those things that you can definitely have too much of.

    Colour options

    While we're on the subject of colour, the 8 Plus is available in only three colours: silver, gold and Space Grey. Far less than the iPhone 7-generation handsets, which at one point were available in six finishes.

    Note that Apple appears to have 'split the difference' between the gold and (no longer offered) Rose Gold colour finishes. The gold option now has a touch of pink about it, but it's subtle and really rather lovely: there are hints of copper in there too.

    New features

    The 8 Plus doesn't get Face ID, but it does get another of the iPhone X's upgrades - and it's something that, in a less exciting year, would have been heralded as a flagship feature:

    Wireless charging

    The iPhone 8 Plus has the same glass-back design as the iPhone X, which means it's compatible with wireless charging accessories: instead of having to plug it in, you just put the phone on a pad and let it charge.

    Our understanding is that any charger that's certified as Qi-compatible will work with the new generation of iPhones, while Apple also plans to release its own AirPower charging pad range.

    That will have to wait until 2018, so in the meantime we tested the 8 Plus with the Aircharge Executive Wireless Charger, a charging pad which is rated at a fairly typical 7.5W.
    We noticed firstly that charging doesn't quite have the 'zero centimeters' range that some literalists complained about ("it's not really wireless!") - unexpectedly, the charging icon appeared when the phone was still hovering 5 mm above the pad. Of course, this makes no difference in practice, and is only a point of interest, but hints at future developments which will one day extend this range to a couple of feet, and charge your phone when it's still in your pocket.