When Trusted Reviews reviewed the iPhone 7 last year, Evan Kypreos found the poor battery life the single biggest reason to avoid the device. He claimed it had ‘the shortest battery life he’d experienced on any mainstream phone over the past couple of years’ – and that he was often reaching for a Lightning cable before the end of the day.
Considering the iPhone 8 has a smaller battery than the iPhone 7, and the fact that Apple made no claims about stamina during its unveiling, I was hugely sceptical about the iPhone 8’s battery life.
But it’s absolutely fine, and pretty much what I’d expect from a device of this size. This isn’t a phone that will see you through a day of constant, heavy use, but Apple’s strong standby times mean it barely drops juice at all when you’re not actively using it, and I wasn’t left reaching for the Lightning cable by 6pm.
My usual request for battery life is that it lasts the whole day. 2017 hasn’t been a particularly good year for phones offering great battery life – aside from the ones that have completely sold themselves on it – and even devices that I’d have thought would have gone for more than a day, such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, have failed to deliver on those expectations.
The iPhone 8 manages to last the day, although I say that with some caveats. I’ve felt as though I’ve had to ‘babysit’ the battery to a greater extent than I have with the iPhone 8 Plus. I switch off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when I’m not using it and I lower the brightness far more; my eyes are constantly drawn to the dropping percentage indicator. It isn’t the battery life that will impress folk, but it also isn’t quite as frustrating as last year.
I ran a few basic side-by-sides tests with an iPhone 7 and iPhone 6S, and the iPhone 8 came out on top in all them. An hour of Netflix (Wi-Fi, 60% brightness, sound 50%) consumed 11% on the 8, 14% on the 7 and 13% on the 6S. Thirty minutes of Real Racing 3 ate through 12% on the 8, 16% on the 7 and 15% on the 6S. Obviously, batteries get worse over time and the 6S used here has been constantly worn down over more than 12 months, so that will affect its score.
The iPhone 8 still charges via a Lightning cable and you get the same 5W plug in the box. Unlike pretty much every Android out there, there’s no out-of-the-box fast-charging here. Apple claims the iPhone 8 supports faster charging, but it’s still one of slower phones to charge.
iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus
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The included wall plug will get you from 0-80% in about 60 minutes, and you can shave 10 minutes off that by using an iPad charger. I also tried charging it with the USB-C plug that comes with the MacBook Pro plus a USB-C-to-Lightning cable – this got me from 0-80% in 45 minutes. It then took a further 35 minutes to reach 100%. Considering this phone retails for £/$699, it seems terribly stingy that there isn’t a ‘fast’ charger included.
If you want to ditch the Lightning cable completely, the iPhone 8 supports Qi wireless charging through the Qi standard. This is the same method that Android phones have used to charge wirelessly for years. Wireless charging is about as slow as using the included wall plug, but there will be an update later in the year that will unlock slightly faster 7.5W wireless charging in supported pads.
I’ve been using Belkin’s Boost Up Wireless Charging Pad, but Apple is also pushing one from Mophie. There are cheaper ones available on Amazon – the Anker one gets good reviews – plus lots of IKEA lamps now have Qi charging built in. Apple’s very own charging pad, named AirPower, will be able to charge two phones simultaneously, alongside an Apple Watch and AirPods. However, it isn’t out until 2018 and I can’t imagine it will come cheap.
Should I buy the iPhone 8?
The iPhone 8 is a good phone – very good in certain respects – but it also feels like it was the forgotten child. The iPhone X, with its edge-to-edge OLED display, shouldn’t be an exclusive £1000 device; it should be the phone that Apple puts head-to-head against the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the upcoming Google Pixel 2.
Can I honestly recommend you plump for an iPhone 8 over a Galaxy S8? Not really, no. Samsung’s effort feels like a step forward; the iPhone’s old design just can’t compete.
Where I can recommend the iPhone 8 is if you’re thoroughly tied into Apple’s services, rock an Apple Watch and you’re currently on an iPhone 6S or older. In this instance you’ll see a huge upgrade in pretty much every area.
The iPhone 8 is also great if you’re after a safe bet, and aren’t ready for the changes that will come with the iPhone X. The iPhone 8 has that familiar Touch ID home button, meaning you won’t have to go all in with Face ID just yet.