New Ap­ple stuff! We test the iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone 8, Ap­ple Watch Se­ries 3 and Ap­ple TV 4K

Ap­ple’s flag­ship phone… for now!

Mac Format - - APPLE CHOICE - Re­viewed by Dan Grab­ham, Gra­ham Bar­low

From £799 from Ap­ple, ap­ple.com/uk Fea­tures 5.5-inch Retina HD dis­play with True Tone, A11 Bionic chip, 12MP cam­era, wire­less charg­ing

We’ll start with the ele­phant in the room – the new iPhone 8 Plus looks a bit dated com­pared to

An­droid ri­vals, which is a shame. The large bezels look sim­ply ridicu­lous up against the Galaxy Note 8 and S8+.

There are three colour op­tions; slate grey, sil­ver and gold – al­though the new gold colour is a bit rosier in ap­pear­ance than the old gold you can see on the iPhone 7 Plus.

The iPhone 8 Plus has a brand new chip, the A11 Bionic pro­ces­sor, which moves to six cores rather than the four in­side the iPhone 7 Plus’s A10 Fu­sion. Ac­cord­ing to our bench­marks this is eas­ily the fastest phone on the mar­ket to­day.

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are ac­tu­ally quite a de­par­ture for Ap­ple in terms of graph­ics be­cause they’re the first hand­sets that use Ap­ple’s own graph­ics pro­ces­sor in­stead of Imag­i­na­tion’s Pow­erVR graph­ics, which Ap­ple has used over the last decade.

These per­for­mance im­prove­ments show in gen­eral use and ev­ery­thing is no­tice­ably punchy, even when ad­ding ef­fects to pho­tos or edit­ing them. Anec­do­tally, it feels faster than an iPhone 7 Plus on iOS 11, but we weren’t us­ing a box-fresh iPhone 7 Plus.

The glass back means we can say hello to Qi-com­pat­i­ble wire­less charg­ing. As al­ways Ap­ple isn’t first with this tech, not by a mile, but it will make it main­stream and that’s great for wire­less charg­ing in gen­eral.

Bat­tery life is an in­ter­est­ing as­pect, be­cause the bat­tery is ac­tu­ally smaller than last year’s 7 Plus (2,691mAh in­stead of 2,900mAh), but Ap­ple says that – thanks to im­prove­ments in ef­fi­ciency – it should clock up the same bat­tery life as the iPhone 7 Plus. We found that was about right, too. While in­ten­sive use will drain the bat­tery, you can eas­ily get through the day and into the first part of the next. So far we’ve found that we can get it to last 24 hours like the iPhone 7 Plus, charg­ing it when we reach the of­fice each day. By that time you are struggling for bat­tery life a bit, but you can get it there.

An hour’s in­ten­sive use – stream­ing me­dia or con­stant emails, so­cial and chat – will drain the bat­tery by 8-10%.

There are also many in­cre­men­tal updates like the True Tone dis­play from the iPad Pro, Blue­tooth 5.0 and fast charg­ing (if you have a USB-C to Lightning ca­ble). There’s also a new ‘neu­ral en­gine’. In­side the iPhone X this is used for Face ID, but in­side the 8 and 8 Plus it will be used for aug­mented re­al­ity apps.

True Tone is re­ally wel­come, and you can

see the slight dif­fer­ence be­tween the screens when com­pared with the 7 Plus. While it will play back Dolby Vi­sion and HDR10 con­tent just like the new Ap­ple TV 4K, the 8 Plus doesn’t have an HDR dis­play un­like many ri­val hand­sets, so you won’t see the video in all its glory. While the dis­play is very us­able and most peo­ple don’t care, the fact is the 8 Plus’ Full HD dis­play res­o­lu­tion now lags far be­hind ri­vals.

Ap­ple has also beefed up the stor­age of the stan­dard model from 32 to 64GB, while the larger 256GB model re­mains (the 256GB iPhone 7 Plus has now been dropped, leav­ing 128 and 32GB op­tions avail­able). The iPhone X also fol­lows the 64/256GB pat­tern.

iPhone 8 Plus cam­era

The cam­era has also re­ceived some love too, with a bunch of up­grades in­clud­ing the abil­ity to record gor­geous 60fps 4K video. The re­sults are stun­ning thanks to a new larger sen­sor – the core cam­era specs are the same as last year’s model.

White bal­ance has been sig­nif­i­cantly im­proved – you can eas­ily see this in more ac­cu­rate skin tones. Portrait Mode has been taken a stage fur­ther with Portrait Light­ing, en­abling you to ap­ply dif­fer­ent light­ing ef­fects, such as stu­dio light.

Im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion is con­fined to the wide-an­gle lens as with the iPhone 7 Plus, but the dual cam­era on the iPhone X also in­tro­duces it to the tele­photo lens.

A lot of these changes won’t con­vince iPhone 7 Plus users to up­grade, but any­one with an older hand­set will be un­der­stand­ably keen to make the leap. It’s a tiny bit of a shame, there­fore, that the de­sign of the 8 Plus is quite so sim­i­lar to its fore­run­ner. It’s also worth not­ing that the di­men­sions are ever-so slightly dif­fer­ent from the 7 Plus, with a tiny bit of extra thick­ness and weight.

The iPhone 8 Plus boasts Portrait Mode and the abil­ity to shoot 60fps 4K video.

The A11 Bionic chip makes the iPhone 8 Plus feel par­tic­u­larly zippy when flit­ting around apps in iOS 11.

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