Apple is celebrating the 10th year of the iPhone with the biggest change in how the iconic device looks and works since its inception. The iPhone 8 isn’t that phone, however; it’s the iPhone X. Instead, the iPhone 8 plays it safe, offering an alternative to those who are happy with large bezels and comparatively small screens.
Apple’s latest smartphone is available now from various networks and the Apple Store. To get the best price, check out our iPhone 8 deals page.
iPhone 8 – Design
Visually, the iPhone 8 is almost exactly the same as the outgoing iPhone 7. It’s still your typical slab, with rounded corners and curved edges. The aluminium rear, which has been around since the iPhone 6, has been ditched for a glass panel here that feels very similar to the front.
The switch to a glass rear is both for design purposes and functionality, but it’s immediately obvious just how much better it feels. Developed in conjunction with Corning, the glass is much grippier than aluminium and adds a notable extra bit of weight. On the Plus model it feels too heavy, but here it works perfectly. Sandwiched between the glass is the 7000-series aluminium rim, which is home to the volume rocker, antennas and lock switch.
My one slight annoyance with the glass design is that it doesn’t quite blend into the aluminium rim as it did in previous models. There’s a notable lip between the end of the glass and the start of the metal, and my fingernail often gets caught in it. It’s a minor design quirk, however.
The obvious downside with glass is its fragility. The worry here is that a drop that wouldn’t have left any lasting damage on the iPhone 7 will leave the iPhone 8 with a seriously cracked rear. For instance, even though the Samsung Galaxy S8 is supposed to benefit from tough Gorilla Glass 5, my device ended life as a glittering mess of glass shards after a 2ft drop onto a wooden floor. Apple clearly realises this is an issue, claiming the iPhone 8 has the ‘most durable glass ever in an iPhone’. My unit has been fine so far, but I haven’t put it through any rigorous drop-tests.
I applaud Apple for switching to glass, but my overall view of the iPhone 8’s design is that it feels dull, predictable and quite some way behind Android flagships such as the Galaxy S9, OnePlus 6 and the Essential Phone. The 2017 and 2018 trend to trim the bezel surrounding the display – which provides more screen in a smaller body – is coming to the iPhone X, but the iPhone 8 still sports a sizeable bezel and fairly small screen.
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At least Apple has ensured the iPhone 8 is still IP67-rated for water-resistance, a feature that’s fast-becoming a prerequisite on flagship phones. It also retains the exceptional Taptic engine that provides thoroughly satisfying nudges and buzzes throughout the operating system.
Apple’s handsets remain my favourite when it comes to the colour choices available. There are three colour options for the iPhone 8 – not the five of the the iPhone 7 – and the Gold is easily my favourite. This replaces the former Gold option and Rose Gold; it’s an amalgamation of both. The glass on the rear of the device gives it a soft, almost ‘creamy’ vibe, and the sides are a less vivid pink. It’s appealing, but not all in the Trusted Reviews’ office share this view. If Gold isn’t your thing then the iPhone 8 is available in Space Grey and Silver too.
It’s been a year since Apple killed the headphone jack, and to absolutely no-one’s surprise it hasn’t made a triumphant return here. Having lived with an iPhone 7 for many months now, I’ve become used to either picking up some wireless headphones or remembering to take the dongle – but it’s hardly ideal.
iPhone 8 – Screen
At 4.7-inches, with a barely over-720p resolution, the display on the iPhone 8 doesn’t whip up much excitement. However, there is actually plenty to like here, and the few changes Apple has made do make a noticeable difference in use.
The main upgrade is True Tone, which first debuted on the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. It’s a clever feature that dynamically alters the display’s white balance depending on the environment you’re in. It’s like the Night Shift mode in iOS, but on a hardware level. It sounds minimal, but it really does work to soften the blue tones in the display, with the end result of being more comfortable on the eyes.
Apple is also now supporting the Dolby Vision and HDR10 formats, so you can play back HDR movies from iTunes and supported content from Netflix. Unlike the iPhone X, which Apple claims has a ‘True HDR’ screen, the iPhone 8 doesn’t. Still, watching Mad Max in HDR does look noticeably better than on the iPhone 7.
The rest of the display specs remain the same as before. It’s still an IPS LCD panel; if you want the perfect blacks and more vivid colours of OLED, you’ll have to plump for an iPhone X or an Android device.
The resolution can make photos look slightly grainy, but it remains one of my favourite displays for colour reproduction, and the support for the DCI-P3 wide colour gamut makes a huge difference in supported content. It also excels for use in super-sunny conditions – an area in which OLEDs often suffer.