After months of rumors and speculation, the new iPhones are finally here. In addition to the special-edition iPhone X and a larger 5.5-inch iPhone 8 Plus counterpart, the iPhone 8 serves as the successor to last year’s iPhone 7. You can preorder the new iPhone on Friday, Sept. 15, and it’ll be available next week on Sept. 22. The phone comes in two memory capacities, 64GB and 256GB.
Like its predecessor, the iPhone 8 features a 4.7-inch Retina HD display and an aluminum body. But it has a slightly new look, with a steel-reinforced glass back, which allows for wireless charging. The iPhone is still dust- and water-resistant (satisfying the IP67 protection standards) and comes in silver, space gray and gold.
Apple also updated the iPhone’s camera chops. Though it still has a 12-megapixel rear shooter and optical image stabilization, it features additional color filters, a new sensor and software tweaks that make it easier to adjust lighting effects. Slow-motion video capture at 1080p gets smoother as well, at 240 frames per second (doubled from last year).
Apple’s phone that isn’t the fancy iPhone X feels like an odd in-betweener. Both the 8 and 8 Plus look casually identical to the 7 and 7 Plus (and pretty close to the 6S and 6S Plus, or for that matter, the 6 and 6 Plus). The back is glass now, which is shiny. The color finishes are a bit different.
New camera modes, like the Portrait Lighting beta that adds fancy lighting effects to Portrait Mode photos, seemed like a mixed bag in my brief time. Some were sharp, others seemed weird-looking.
The 8 is an under-the-hood upgrade at best, like a laptop with a new processor inside. In that sense, this phone feels like more of the same. How well it can handle improved AR, as Apple promises, remains to be seen. And it’s disappointing that the smaller 8 doesn’t have dual cameras. As a result, it can’t do Portrait Mode camera effects at all.
Powered by a proprietary six-core, 64-bit A11 Bionic processor, the iPhone 8 purportedly runs 30 percent faster than last year’s A10 CPU and runs more efficiently at half the power. With the A11 processor, Apple ushers its iPhone into AR-related apps and games, an industry that’s already been explored by rival companies such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft. It also features iOS 11 out of the box, which features new animated emojis, more languages with Siri’s translation services and a refreshed Control Center menu.