Running the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus is the A11 Bionic, Apple’s fastest processor yet.
The A11 Bionic affects everything that happens inside this phone and it puts current Qualcomm high-end Snapdragon chips to shame. It’s accompanied by 3GB of RAM, and either 64GB or 256GB of storage. Remember, there’s no expandable storage on iPhones, so make your storage choice wisely at the start.
This is a six-core processor with two high-power and four low-power cores that churns through all tasks with ease. In benchmarks, it picked up a score of 10,262 in the multi-core Geekbench 4 test, which isn’t far off double the scores achieved by flagship Android phones.
For the most part, the level of power seems too much; the iPhone 7 Plus is still a fast phone. However, the boost in power here delivers far more than simply making the iPhone 8 Plus’ interface smoother to flip through. It uses it for the Portrait Lighting effects in the camera and also for playing intensive AR games that have been developed with ARKit.
Augmented reality overlays artificial elements on a view of the real world, and while it could be described as gimmicky, there’s no doubt it requires an extra hit of oomph. But these AR apps still run fine on an iPhone 6S.
I’d love to see developers push apps and games harder to really make the most of the A11 Bionic. So far, I can’t really see much general improvement in apps over those for the iPhone 7.
Apple has updated the stereo speakers here too, making the iPhone 8 Plus one of the best-sounding phones out there. Bass is heavier, volume is louder and there’s no distortion – even when you’re at full blast. This is the first iPhone with which I can happily listen to music without having to connect a Bluetooth speaker.
The iPhone 8 Plus arrives running iOS 11, which is one of the best versions of Apple’s operating system yet. I’ll direct you to our iOS 11 review for the full rundown on what’s new, but in short it adds a new Control Center, better Siri, AR support and plenty more.
The Control Center is no longer spread over three panes; it’s now all jammed into a mix of different-sized bubbles. You can 3D-Touch your way around it and I particularly like the way the Home and Remote apps have been shrunk down to fully functioning widgets. You can, for the first time, edit what goes into the Control Center.
Siri has a more human voice, but the functionality is still a little ropey. I’d have thought considering how integral the voice assistant is to the upcoming HomePod that Apple would have at least made it able to understand an instruction to set an alarm.
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What iOS 11 doesn’t add is a new overall look for the iPhone. That same grid-like homescreen filled with icons has been the one constant since the original iPhone launched 10 years ago, and even the most die-hard of iOS loyalist would have to admit it could do with a rethink.
I’d also like to see some of the split-screen capabilities from the iPad on the iPhone. Android phones can have two apps open and usable at once, so why doesn’t Apple add something similar here? The screen is certainly big enough.