Hands-on review: Change is constant - unless you’re the iPhone 8 Plus
FYI, this story is more than a year old
After reviewing the iPhone 8 Plus and using it as my primary phone for the last six months or so, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a model for the change-resistant.
The change-resistant are comfortable with the iteration of the iPhones as they are now - fingerprint scanner and home button intact, with a familiar display configuration with bezels at the top and the bottom.
The iPhone 8 Plus is a great phone in and of itself.
Fast processing speed, stereo speakers, clear and sharp display with True Tone colour.
Two things set it apart - the improved camera with portrait mode, and the battery life.
I’ve found that despite the advancements to Android phone cameras on paper - in terms of lenses, megapixels, and sensor technology - for me, the iPhone cameras still produce images with colours that are truer to life and skin tones that look more natural.
The iPhone 8 Plus’s camera is no exception, and the improved 12MP dual cameras with True Tone flash produces crisp, clear images with minimal fuss, although its low-light performance came slightly below my expectations.
I think that’s a trade-off Apple makes, and it’s one that I gladly accept.
The Portrait mode, still in beta, can be rather hit or miss and is quite finicky about the exact distance it needs to be from the subject for it to work.
When it works, however, the images are stunning, with depth of field that makes it hard to believe the image was shot with a phone.
If this is the Portrait mode in beta, I can’t wait till all the bugs have been ironed out.
The iPhone 8 Plus boasts the longest battery life out of Apple’s recent releases.
It’s something that gets really easy to take for granted really quickly, but I found that with all-day moderate to heavy use, the battery hardly ever drained below 20% for me. I never had to put it in Low Power mode.
This leads me to my other point - the 8 Plus’s extensive battery makes it one of the best phones to play Pokemon Go on.
The iPhone’s A11 Bionic chip, coupled with the dual cameras handles the loading and the AR projection the game is known for really well, making the experience buttery smooth.
If you loved the iPhone 6 Plus or 7 Plus and wanted to upgrade to a phone that was basically the same, but faster and with an improved camera (minus headphone jack, which can be annoying at times), then the iPhone 8 Plus is for you.
Having said that, there are a few things about the display that can’t be ignored.
The iPhone’s competitors in the ‘phablet’ segment of the market have continued innovating while the 8 Plus still has the same design as the 6 Plus.
Other ‘phablet’ phones have OLED screens, or make better use of the display space by having little or no bezel, or having equal or more screen size but at a fraction of the weight of the 8 Plus.
For me, this was a real missed opportunity for Apple.
In the end, It comes down to what you’re looking for in your new phone.
If you’re looking for comfort and familiarity plus increased performance and battery that lasts and lasts, go for the iPhone 8 Plus.
But if you’re looking for a significant upgrade, game-changing features and a modern design, you'll need to keep looking.