iPhone X vs 8 Plus vs 8
Karen Haslam looks at how Apple’s latest handsets compare
Apple launched three new iPhones in 2017: the 8, 8 Plus, and the X (pronounced iPhone ten). If you are thinking about upgrading your phone, you are likely to be wondering which one will suit you best. Over the following pages we compare each of the models, so you can find the handset that’s right for you.
The cost of these three iPhones is probably the biggest divider and it may well be your budget that is the deciding factor. However, note that while there are huge discrepancies between the prices if you buy your handset directly from Apple, if you are spreading payments over a two-year period with your mobile network the difference may only be a few pounds a
month. Also note that there is less difference in price between the 256GB version of one handset and the 64GB version of the next model up. For example, the 256GB 8 Plus costs just £50 less than the 64GB iPhone X. So the choice is really between flagship phone and the extra space.
iPhone X: £999 (64GB), £1,149 (256GB)
iPhone 8 Plus: £799 (64GB), £949 (256GB) iPhone 8: £699 (64GB), £849 (256GB)
The iPhone 8 is smallest and thinnest of the three handset, but only slightly. If your choice was going to be based on the size and shape of the iPhone, then there is very little difference here. When it comes to weight, the difference is greater, however.
iPhone X: 143.6x70.9x7.7mm, 174g iPhone 8 Plus: 158.4x78.1x7.5mm, 202g iPhone 8: 138.4x67.3x7.3mm, 148g
If it’s a small iPhone you are looking for then there is not really a significant difference here. It’s certainly not worth disqualifying the iPhone X over a few millimetres in size, and with just 26g between them, the X is hardly going to feel hefty in comparison to the fractionally lighter iPhone 8.
If you really want a small iPhone then there is another iPhone you could consider. The SE is Apple’s smallest handset:
iPhone SE: 123.8x58.6x7.6mm, 113g
The iPhone X and 8 may be almost identical when it comes to size and weight, but there is one very big difference: the size of the screen.
iPhone X: 5.8in Super Retina HD display iPhone 8 Plus: 5.5in Retina HD display iPhone 8: 4.7in Retina HD display
When it comes to screen size it looks like there is one clear winner here, the iPhone X. However that 5.8in diagonal measurement is deceptive. If you measure the screen’s height and width the results are:
iPhone X: 62x135mm iPhone 8 Plus: 69x122mm Phone 8: 59x105mm
So, there is a world of difference between the iPhone 8 and the X screen, but in terms of the 8 Plus, there is just an extra 13mm in height on one phone and an extra 7mm in width on the other.
If, however, you exclude the iPhone X notch (the area at the top of the display that houses the Face ID camera) from that measurement, then the screen is more accurately 62mm across by 130mm down (so 8mm longer than the 8 Plus). But it’s still bigger than the 8 Plus screen, and given that the handset is itself smaller, that is something to celebrate. Also for many the 8 Plus is just too big and cumbersome to hold comfortably. The choice isn’t really about screen size, but rather it is about how much of a sacrifice you are prepared to make to get a larger screen.
When it comes to picking a phone you should ask yourself whether you want an iPhone screen
that is longer, or an iPhone screen that is wider. Also, will you be using your iPhone to watch movies and TV shows filmed in 16:9 aspect ratio, because where the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are 16:9 screens, the iPhone X screen is a 19.5:9 screen and as a result you may end up choosing to watch movies in a letter box format rather than crop elements.
There is one other thing to say about the display on the iPhone X – it’s an OLED screen that Apple is calling a Super Retina display.
iPhone X: TrueTone, 2436x1125-pixel resolution at 458ppi, with 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio
iPhone 8 Plus: Retina Display, 1920x1080 pixel resolution at 401ppi, and a 1300:1 contrast ratio
iPhone 8: Retina Display, 1334x750-pixel resolution at 326ppi, and a 1400:1 contrast ratio
This is the first time an iPhone has been available with an OLED screen. OLEDs have a lot of excellent features including absolute blacks – hence that 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio – and a wider viewing angle.
When we used the iPhone X we were impressed. Colours were bold and bright, and the whites more true to life, also perhaps a shade more yellow than on the iPhone 8 Plus, which seemed have a bluer tint. In comparison to the 8 Plus dark areas were brighter and clearer. This is thanks to the other feature of the screen – HDR (high dynamic range) – which expands the range of both contrast and colour. When we watched dark
scenes in movies there was a lot more clarity on the X than on the other iPhone models.
The problem with OLEDs is they can suffer from screen-burn – a ‘ghost’ image that remains on the screen (something plaguing the Google Pixel 2), colour shifting can also be a problem. Apple says that it has taken steps to guard against this.
The OLED screen on the iPhone X is a sight to behold, especially thanks to the incorporation of HDR. But we feel the dimensions of the screen are the wrong aspect ratio to really enjoy movies, which is where HDR would be of most benefit. We are also slightly apprehensive about some of the issues OLEDs are known for.
When it comes down to processor there is really not a significant difference between the three phones as each phone uses Apple’s A11 Bionic system-on-chip. In fact, when it came to benchmark tests, we found that the Geekbench scores were practically identical although we actually found that the 8 Plus and 8 scored slightly higher than the iPhone X when we tested them.
With multi-core scores around the 10,100 mark – almost twice what the iPhone 7 Plus scored – and more than the competition (the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 scores around 6,471 while the Google Pixel 2 scores 6224) – we think that which ever iPhone you choose the processor speed will not disappoint.
All three phones have a 12Mp rear-facing camera, but there are some key differences.
The iPhone X and the iPhone 8 Plus have two cameras on the back. That’s a ƒ/1.8 aperture wideangle and ƒ/2.4 aperture telephoto camera that combine to create the stunning portrait shots with the blurred background that those phones can take. The iPhone X and 8 Plus also have an optical zoom and can digital zoom up to 10x.
The iPhone 8 just has the one 12Mp camera on the back with a ƒ/1.8 aperture, so it can’t take the fancy portrait shots, and it’s digital zoom goes to 5x.
Another difference is the fact that the rear-facing lenses on the iPhone X both have optical image stabilisation (OIS), which should equal better low light, while only the wide-angle lense on the 8 Plus has this.
In our photo tests we found that macro photos taken with the iPhone X were better than those on the 8 Plus, and the additional OIS is probably the reason for that.
There is also new technology in the A11 Bionic processor that allows Apple to go a step further with this portrait photography in the iPhone X and 8 Plus. The ‘Neural Engine’ in the image signal processor can allow you to change the lighting conditions after taking the photograph.
Portrait Lighting options include Natural Light, Studio Light, Contour Light, Stage Light, and Stage Light Mono. The latter two options black out the background while the other options change how the light appears to fall on your face. Right now the feature is in beta – and it doesn’t always give the best results, but its a fun way to enhance the already good portrait style shots. If you take a lot of pictures of people and would like to create the bokeh effect then we think you’d love this feature of the iPhone X. If you don’t know what the bokeh effect is we’d probably suggest you don’t really need it.
Turning to the camera on the front of the iPhones. The selfie/FaceTime camera on the front of the X is different to that found on the 8 and 8 Plus.
On the iPhone 8 models you will find a 7Mp FaceTime HD camera with Retina Flash (the same as on the iPhone Plus) but on the iPhone X there is a 7Mp TrueDepth front camera with Portrait mode and Portrait Lighting. This TrueDepth camera is what makes Face ID possible – as we will explain later. In terms of taking photos, the TrueDepth camera on the front of the iPhone X can take what Apple is calling Portrait Mode Selfies. In other words, the front-facing
camera can take photos with a sharp foreground and an artfully blurred background to create the same bokeh effect that the two cameras on the back of the iPhone X and Plus can achieve.
When it comes to cameras the X gives you the extra image stabilisation and Portrait Mode Selfies. The 8 Plus is more than adequate if you don’t want to spend your days taking selfies (and we can’t help but think that the people who do that are all using Snapchat anyway). However, the camera in the iPhone 8 is still great, so, if you aren’t bothered by the addition of the rear-facing Portrait Mode, the iPhone 8 is more than adequate.
The missing Home Button
There is one huge difference between the iPhone X and the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus and it may be the thing that
turns you off the iPhone X altogether. The trade-off for getting the bigger screen on the iPhone 8 is the demise of the Home Button. Yes, the trademark Home Button, which was perhaps as part of a design of the iPhone as the click wheel was on the iPod, has gone.
The removal of the Home Button means that Apple needed to make some changes to the iPhone interface. So if you were to buy an iPhone X you would have to learn a new way to navigate the interface. You may adapt to this quickly, or you may find yourself frustrated. It depends on how willing you are to embrace change, and how intuitive the new way of interfacing with the iPhone is.
We have this article that explains how to use the new iPhone X, and all the new gestures that you will have to learn. When we used the iPhone X for a short time we found we quickly adjusted to the new gestures.
We found that it was a lot easier to get used to the different gestures on the iPhone X than we expected, but we still feel that the Home button was more intuitive and it is frustrating to feel that you have to perform extra steps to do things that previously only took one button press.
Face ID vs Touch ID
There is another change as a result of the missing Home Button. Touch ID, Apple’s fingerprint recognition system for securing your phone so that only you could open it, and allowing you to pay for things using Apple Pay, has been replaced with Face ID.
We feel a bit sad about the loss of Touch ID on the iPhone X. We liked the simplicity of being able to unlock our phone just by touching the Home Button, and we enjoyed being able to use our iPhone to pay for things in shops. With Face ID you will unlock your phone by looking at it.
There is a lot of concern buzzing around the web about the reliability of Face ID and how secure it is.
Since the iPhone X launched there have been various cases of people being able to unlock someone else’s iPhone X – normally identical twins or family members, but there have also been tales of people unlocking iPhone X models with masks. .
Apple says that Face ID is more secure than Touch ID. According to Apple, there is only a one in a million chance that Face ID would allow someone else to unlock your iPhone – that someone would have to be your doppelgänger. In essence, Face ID is secure from a criminal since they are unlikely to look like you, but if it’s your sibling you want to keep secrets from then you might not be so lucky.
Apple also recommends that children under the age of 13 shouldn’t use Face ID as their faces are still developing and “distinct facial features may not have fully developed”.
Touch ID, on the other hand, has a one in 50,000 chance of being cracked by someone else’s fingerprint. (It strikes us that it would be easier to find someone who looked like someone else than to find someone with a similar fingerprint if you were intent on hacking into their phone though).
We found Face ID worked very well, although initially we found it failed to recognize us on a few occasions. However, the initial failings were due to Face ID learning us, and as it became accustomed to recognizing us in various lighting and with or
without glasses and the like, it happily unlocked the iPhone whenever required.
One last thing to note here – when it comes to security the difference between Face ID and Touch ID is really irrelevant because anyone can unlock your iPhone if they have your passcode. So if you don’t have a secure passcode – that’s a passcode that isn’t 000000 or 123456 – then you might as well leave your iPhone unlocked.
There are some benefits to Face ID. You never feel like you are having to unlock your phone, and logging onto services that would have previously used Touch ID, now work with Face ID, so accessing your banking app on your phone can be quicker, if your iPhone X recognizes it’s you. But it can be frustrating to use it when after your iPhone recognizes you it is still necessary to press the Side button to activate a payment.
Those are the main differences that will probably make the biggest difference to you. But there are a few more differences between the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X in terms of specifications.
There are also a few things that are identical as we will outline below.
iPhone X: Space Grey/Silver iPhone 8 Plus: Gold/Silver/Space Grey iPhone 8: Gold/Silver/Space Grey
iPhone X: 64GB/256GB iPhone 8 Plus: 64GB/256GB iPhone 8: 64GB/256GB
iPhone X: Rated IP67 under IEC standard 60529
iPhone 8 Plus: Rated IP67 under IEC standard 60529 iPhone 8: Rated IP67 under IEC standard 60529
iPhone X: A11 Bionic chip with 64-bit architecture, M11 motion coprocessor
iPhone 8 Plus: A11 Bionic chip with 64-bit architecture, M11 motion coprocessor
iPhone 8: A11 Bionic chip with 64-bit architecture, M11 motion coprocessor
iPhone X: Lasts up to 2 hours longer than iPhone 7
iPhone 8 Plus: Lasts about the same as iPhone 7 iPhone 8: Lasts about the same as iPhone 7
iPhone X: Wireless charging (works with Qi chargers) iPhone 8 Plus: Wireless charging (works with Qi chargers) iPhone 8: Wireless charging (works with Qi chargers)
We’ve skipped over wireless charging which is a new feature for the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and iPhone X. We aren’t convinced about how important a feature it is, but if it is
something you are attracted to, it’s worth emphasising that the feature is available on both the iPhone 8 and X so it’s not a reason to choose one phone over the other.
There are a few features that the iPhone X has that we’d love, such as the Portrait Mode Selfies and the improved Portrait Mode on the rear camera. The bigger screen on the smaller handset sounds great, but we feel it’s a little
spoiled by the notch and the fact that it’s not actually any wider than that on the iPhone 8.
In addition, the removal of the Home Button means that not only do you need to relearn the interface, but you can no longer use Touch ID. We find this very offputting, however, we are suspicious that it is something we will all have to learn to live with, because the likelihood is that future iPhones will adopt this edge-toedge screen and Face ID.
Right now though, we’d say go ahead and buy the iPhone 8 Plus if you want to use the improved Portrait Mode, or just stick with the cheaper iPhone 8 and enjoy the Home Button while you still can. That’s unless you want to be one of an elite using the new iPhone X and all the bragging rights that that entails. And we know quite a few people who fit into that category.
iPhone 8 Plus and 8
iPhone 8 Plus and 8
iPhone X, Apple Watch and AirPods using an AirPower charging matt
iPhone 8 Plus