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iPhone 8 Plus: The best smartphone on the planet has never been more boring

Published Sep 27th, 2017 10:33AM EDT
iPhone 8 Plus Review
Image: Zach Epstein for BGR

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I’m getting an iPhone X. Some day. At this point it’s looking increasingly unlikely that it will be on November 3rd when the phone is released, since all signs point to severely constrained supply at launch. Those constraints may last for several months, by the way. If you’re planning to get one yourself, you should probably strap in and prepare for a fiasco.

With that in mind, I bought an iPhone 8 Plus to use until I manage to get my hands on the X. Yes, I could’ve kept using my iPhone 7 Plus, but the hit to battery life and the slowdown due to iOS 11 were getting to me. So I upgraded.

Is upgrading from a 7 to an 8 worth the cost? Let’s break it down.

Apple doesn’t give us iPhones to review in advance like every other smartphone company, so I spent last week reviewing a Lexus LC instead. Here’s a preview: 🔥🔥🔥. More on that later.

In the meantime, I wanted to share some quick thoughts on the new iPhone 8 Plus, which is unquestionably the best smartphone on the planet right now. It will continue to be the best smartphone on the planet for at least the next five weeks, until the iPhone X is released on November 3rd. I wrote “at least” because I haven’t yet used the phone myself, and there are some big questions that still need to be answered before it can be said with absolute certainty that Apple’s first redesigned iPhone in four years is actually better than the iPhone 8 Plus.

I’m not going to write a full iPhone 8 Plus review. Why? Put plainly, I’ve already reviewed the phone three times. It’s a faster iPhone 7 Plus with a few new features. The iPhone 7 Plus was a faster iPhone 6s Plus with a few new features. The iPhone 6s Plus was a faster iPhone 6 Plus with a few new features.

In a nutshell, the iPhone 8 Plus is basically an iPhone 6sss Plus.

The iPhone 8 Plus looks almost exactly like the iPhone 7 Plus. The colors are different, the glass back is a bit of a change, but the overall look is the same. From afar, a “normal” person probably can’t even tell the difference between the two, especially the black iPhone 7 Plus and Space Gray iPhone 8 Plus. You tell me — which is the iPhone 8 Plus and which is the iPhone 7 Plus?

Image source: Zach Epstein, BGR

Thanks to the glass back, internal wireless charging coil and a few other changes, the 8 Plus is a bit heavier than last year’s model. It’s only about a 7.5% difference, but you can feel it right away. Luckily, you won’t have to worry about dropping and damaging the heavier iPhone 8 Plus if you upgrade from a 7 Plus. Since it’s almost the exact same design, your old case will fit your new phone — the only size differences are that the 8 Plus is a hundredth of an inch taller and a hundredth of an inch thicker. Seriously, that’s it.

While the iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone 7 Plus may look the same on the outside, the inside is an entirely different story. Just as the 6s brought huge speed and performance improvements over the 6 and the 7 improved upon the 6s, so too does the 8 offer big performance gains over the 7. Apple’s new A11 Bionic chip is largely to thank, and it’s the most advanced processor that has ever been in a smartphone. The iPhone 8 performs as well on some benchmark tests as Apple’s Intel-powered MacBook Pros. Nothing else on the planet can touch the A11 right now, and I doubt the next-generation Snapdragon processor that will power 2018’s Android flagships will be a match for it either.

Apple’s new iPhone 8 Plus also has the best camera that has ever been packed into a smartphone. Hands down. Samsung, HTC, and even Google have given the iPhone 7 Plus a run for its money over the past 12 months, but nothing can even come close to the 8 Plus. Don’t take my word for it, check out the reviews from professional photographers.

I’ve had the iPhone 8 Plus for five days now. I’m already bored.

Image source: Zach Epstein for BGR

Automakers offer a number of incremental updates to their cars over the years, but then there’s a big model refresh that takes place about every seven years. Why don’t they just keep upping the power, improving the performance, and adding new tech and features? Because people get bored. They want new designs.

People buy new phones far more frequently than they buy new cars, so smartphone makers obviously update their designs more often to keep things fresh. Until 2016, Apple redesigned its iPhones every two years. But then the iPhone 7 came along last year with the same design as the 6 and 6s, and responses were mixed. Now, in 2017, Apple has reused the same design for a fourth consecutive year.

Anecdotal evidence suggests early iPhone 8 and 8 Plus sales have been far slower than earlier models, and the design certainly could be a contributing factor. This would be like having Toyota waiting 14 years in between Camry refreshes. People want new designs in addition to new features and performance improvements, and that’s why so many Apple fans are waiting for the iPhone X. For the first time in four years, it’s a new iPhone that actually looks new.

Image source: Zach Epstein, BGR

If you’re an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus user, my advice is to not upgrade to the iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus. Even if you’re a diehard Apple fan and you always want the latest and greatest gear, it’s not worth it. iOS 11 will see battery life and performance improvements in the coming weeks and months. In fact, Apple already released its first update to iOS 11 despite the fact that the initial release was just last week. Wait it out. Trust me.

If you have an iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, or 6s Plus, then it might be worth the update. The hardware is still the same for the most part, as with the 7, but the speed, performance, battery life, and camera improvements are so dramatic that spending the money becomes worthwhile. It might still be the same design for the most part, but the difference is night and day.

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.

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