Apple iPhone 8 Plus long-term review

GSMArena team, 14 February 2018.

Design

Of course, given the industry direction, we can't talk about the iPhone 8 Plus without first addressing those bezels. Yes, who wouldn't want smaller bezels and the resultant smaller phone that would give us? But in isolation, in day to day use, the bezels don't irritate us or fill us with buyers remorse that we didn't go with the iPhone X. Plus, if you choose Space Gray, the black bezels are less intrusive throughout our interactions with the phone.

The capacitive Home button with Touch ID for some of us is preferred over gestures and Face ID. We're lucky, in that we got a great deal of time to spend with both before buying, with Touch ID winning out - appreciating just how fast and reliable this combo is.

Apple Iphone 8 Plus long-term review The iPhone 8 Plus next to the iPhone X - shared DNA is obvious

Whether a result of familiarity or merely intuitive design, the capacitive home button with its haptic feedback provides a frame of reference to orientate the phone when removing from our pockets, jackets, and bags which helps.

In fact, it's that very same familiarity with the design that's the biggest disappointment for us and not the bezels. Applying the 'if it ain't broke don't fix it' approach for such a lengthy period of time (4 years - Ed) left us with a feeling of disappointment. After having spent a large sum of money, no matter how good it is on the inside and in use, you just don't get that 'new' phone sentiment.

Build quality

The most significant influence on the change of materials in the construction of the iPhone 8 Plus was a direct result of enabling wireless charging for the first time in an iPhone. Enabled by electro-magnetic transfer, wireless charging requires a non-metallic region for the inductive charging to take place. Apple chose glass but could have gone with many other non-metallic materials in its construction. Ceramic would have been more robust than glass, a'la the Essential Phone but working with ceramic has its own challenges and cost implications. Considering that this will be the last iteration of this design why would Apple make the investment. So for now, glass it is.

Inevitably with the glass back comes the obligatory fingerprints and smudges - easily solved by the use of one of a plethora of 'thin' cases.

Apple iPhone 8 Plus long-term review

A color-matched aerospace grade aluminum band curves around to marry together the front and back glass surfaces. In our iPhone X long-term review, we drew attention to the fact that the tolerances were not tight enough where the back glass and the band (stainless steel in the case of the iPhone X) met. Either as a result of the construction or the physical shape, it's here on the iPhone 8 Plus but much less noticeable.

That one issue withstanding, the iPhone 8 Plus follows Apple's usual high build quality while being .2mm larger in all dimensions to the iPhone 7 Plus. In all likelihood, this can be attributed to the glass is thicker than the aluminum used previously in an attempt for it to live up to "The most durable glass ever in a smartphone" moniker bestowed on the iPhone 8 Plus by Apple.

We don't like the fact that it's heavier than the 7 Plus - it's more than 200g now while its battery is smaller. The glass on the back obviously is not as light as aluminum.

While not in the same stratospheric price range as the iPhone X, the iPhone 8 Plus is an expensive iPhone to repair if you use Apple servicing.

At the time of writing, a screen repair costs $ 169/€ 201.30/£ 176.44.44 with Other damage costing $399 / €451.30 / £406.44.

Sound

Our previous tests confirmed that this is indeed the loudest iPhone to date with crisp and clear sound quality. It's the first iPhone that we actually have no problem listening to music through its stereo speakers on the odd occasion.

While it's old news as Apple removed the headphone jack with the iPhone 7, it will be a new reality for many just upgrading now.

Paul jumped from the iPhone 6s Plus and was genuinely worried about the loss of the headphone jack. But as he explained in a recent Sunday debate "The only inconvenience is charging while listening to wired music now requires another dongle. I worried initially, every night this is precisly how I listened to podcasts and music to sleep. I simply changed my habits to ensure that I charge my phone before hitting the sack, which is made convenient by a couple of wireless chargers in my house".

Combined with wireless headphones while either training, working or 'out and about' made this predicted hurdle a non-event - for Paul at least.

Display

With a full HD screen resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels, the iPhone 8 Plus has a respectable pixel density of 401ppi and delivers 1300:1 contrast ratio. While other flagships, now even from within the Apple fold, offer greater DPI - the reality is that you're not left wanting. You can't make out the individual pixels, and there are with no visible jaggies.

Of more significant impact is the wider color gamut. Apple displays have always had excellent color accuracy which is only improved further on the iPhone 8 Plus, serving up vibrant colors and high contrast.

Again, in our choice, we preferred the screen size when compared to the iPhone X as we came from iPhone 7 Plusses.

Unlike OLED screens, off angle viewing is a strong point and remains constant, this is great for sharing the viewing experience with others when posting/viewing your latest 'Snapbook' updates.

Apple Iphone 8 Plus long-term review

Perhaps of more relevance for day to day use is the introduction of True Tone, one of the technologies inherited from the iPad Pro. Making use of the four‑channel ambient light sensor in the iPhone 8 Plus, the white balance is automatically adjusted to match the color temperature of light around. This best replicates interacting with materials that reflect light, and in most circumstances, it greatly enhances the user experience and reduces eye strain. Note this is different to Night Shift that shifts the colors to the warmer end of the spectrum to help you sleep.

Enabled by default you can turn True Tone off in Settings > Display & Brightness.

Our comparison shots demonstrate the marked differences between the modes. Your personal mileage will vary, while everything looks better when it comes to content such as eBooks, e-mail, and web-pages - we're less convinced of its value when viewing photos and video. Apple provides no granular control to dictate when True Color is utilized, it's system-wide.

Apple Iphone 8 Plus long-term review The iPhone 8 Plus on the left has True Tone On

Turning our attention to HDR and Dolby Vision and the lines get a little blurred. The reality is that the display in the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus isn't truly HDR capable. But, you will see a notably better picture when playing back HDR & Dolby Vision content with increased dynamic range, better contrast and utilizing that wider color gamut.

Given the capabilities of the A11 Bionic SoC, we found it disappointing that the latest iPhone's can't deliver a 4K HDR picture to an external 4K TV or monitor with the Lightning Digital AV Adapter. This edge case isn't a show stopper but a 'nice to have,' especially now that we have 4K content more readily available not only from Netflix & Amazon Video but Apple themselves - to date our iTunes Movie library has had at least 40% of our purchases upgraded to 4K HDR for free.

We'll end this section with a quick tip relating to the screen size. If you struggle using the keyboard one handed, iOS 11 allows the on-screen keyboard to be compressed to the left or right which helps one-handed use. You can either enable this via Settings > General > Keyboard > One-Hand Keyboard or by holding down the Emoji key on the keyboard itself.

Change keyboard alignment - Apple Iphone 8 Plus long-term review Right aligned keyboard - Apple Iphone 8 Plus long-term review
Change keyboard alignment • Right aligned keyboard

Reader comments

  • Mz Dussey

Please I have a problem with my iCloud storage Have deleted all my pictures and my apps but still can’t take pics from camera

  • Anonymous

Why wouldn't you just flick the side switch to silent or ring and you are never disturbed by notification sound Only iPhone that had side switch for ringer, you won't be like Android since the ringer mode is on notification panel

  • Alex

Indeed it's expensive, but it works very well. my iph 6 resist throughout the day better than my s6 for example (battery life) what i like the most at apple ecosystem is that it does t have so much advertisments like android on random apps ( youtube,...