iPhone 8 and 8 Plus: What You Need to Know

iPhone 8 and wireless charging
The iPhone 8 with Apple's AirPower wireless charging mat. Apple

Announced at the same time as the iPhone X, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus might feel a little over shadowed (if they were anthropomorphized, that is) by their fancy new brother. Sure they don't have all the fancy features of the iPhone X, but to say the 8 and 8 Plus aren't solid iPhones and can't hold their own is wrong.

The Coolest New Features of the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus

Coming just one year after the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, it would be easy to assume the upgrade to the 8 and 8 Plus would be minor, even if welcome.

From a slight distance, yes, one could mistake the 8 from the 7, but under the screen is where the serious improvements live.

iPhone 8 Processors
First, among these is the cutting-edge, 64-bit, multicore A11 Bionic processor and an all-new GPU (Graphics Processing Unit). These chips deliver major horsepower for computing- and graphics-intensive tasks. The iPhone 7 series was built around powerful chips, but the A11 Bionic is 25-70% faster than the 7's A10 Fusion chip. How fast? In some cases, the A11 is faster than the computer you're using to read this review.

The 8’s GPU is about 30% faster than the one in the 7 series. That GPU is used for the camera and Apple's implementation of augmented reality. While the camera bump on the iPhone 8 looks superficially the same as on the 7: It takes 12-megapixel images and captures 4K video. That's true, but the 8's improvements aren't captured by those specs.

iPhone 8 Cameras
The 8's camera system also lets 83% more light into its sensor, resulting in better low-light pictures and more true-to-life colors. On the iPhone 8 Plus, this enables a new Portrait mode, in which the camera senses light and depth as you compose a photo and dynamically adjusts to create the best photo.

Video recording is nicely boosted, too: The 8 series can capture 4K video at up to 60 frames per second (up from 30 frames per second on the 7) and slow-motion, 240-frame-per-second video in 1080p (compared to 120 frames per second).

The iPhone 8's GPU is also essential to its Augmented Reality features. Augmented Reality, or AR, combines live data from the Internet with images of the real-world in front go you (like seeing Pokemon seemingly in your living room in Pokemon Go).

AR requires a sensitive camera to make sure it works wherever you are and in whatever conditions, as well as a powerful GPU for combining data, live images, and digital animations. The extra horsepower under the iPhone 8's hood and intelligence built into its cameras make the 7 well suited to AR.

iPhone 8 Design
While the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus look like recent past versions of iPhones, they are different. Gone is the aluminum back replaced with an all-new glass back (like the iPhone 4 and 4S). And, despite what skeptics might claim, it's not to help Apple get more money from broken glass panels. It's for power delivery.

Thanks to its glass back, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus allow for inductive charging (often referred to as wireless charging despite, you know, needing a wire).

With it, you can forget plugging in your iPhone to charge it. Just place the iPhone on a wireless charging mat and power flows from a wall outlet through the charging mat into the phone's battery. Based on the widely used Qi (pronounced 'chee") standard, it should eventually be easy to charge the iPhone 8 at home or on the go in airports, and other locations. Let's be clear: there is a cable that goes from a standard power outlet to the charging pad. The phone itself, however, is wire-free. Oh, no, the charging is not included with either iPhone 8 models.

With an upcoming software update, if your charging mat is connected to power via USB-C, the fast-charging feature gives the iPhone 8 a 50% charge in just 30 minutes.

Apple’s charging mat, called AirPower and coming in 2018, will support charging an iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods at once.

iPhone 8 and 8 Plus Takeaway

  • Glass back allows for inductive charging
  • Much faster, and more power efficient CPU and GPU
  • Camera improved for truer-to-live color capture and allows more light
  • Video camera captures 4K at 60 frames per second

What Happened to the iPhone 7S?

Never one to shy away from breaking tradition, Apple's skipped the old naming convention that's existed for nearly 6 years. That is doing a tick-tock on the naming of the iPhone line. In the past, Apple has the iPhone 4 then 4S. Then iPhone 5 then 5S. All the way up until 2016.

So, following that logic, the iPhone 8 should be called the iPhone 7S. Instead, Apple decided to skip an "S" and go right to the next model.

Either way, don't go looking for an iPhone 7S; you'll never find it.