iPhone X vs iPhone 8 vs iPhone 8 Plus: Which Apple flagship should you buy?
With the new iPhone X, Apple just made it more difficult to decide which new iPhone to buy. It is no longer a matter of figuring out which display size you prefer or how nice you would like the camera to be. The new kid on the block is different, coming with all sorts of cool features that can make you more confused than ever.
It's so different from the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus that it is basically in a category of its own, at the top of Apple's smartphone lineup. But how does it actually compare to the other two flagships, and is it the right iPhone for you?
The iPhone X is the star of the show here, packing a 5.8-inch OLED display with a resolution of 2,436 by 1,125 pixels. It takes up almost all of the space on the front. And there are no sacrifices in terms of quality, as it offers the best contrast ratio of all three devices (1,000,000:1, vs 1400:1 for the iPhone 8 and 1300:1 for the iPhone 8 Plus), true tone technology, 3D touch and a 625cd/m2 brightness.
Where the iPhone X display may not impress is in the top part. The cutout, while necessary to offer some features, makes it look strange. In comparison, the displays on the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus do not have the same problem.
However, neither the iPhone 8 nor the iPhone 8 Plus come close. The former features a 4.7-inch screen with a resolution of 1,334 by 750 while the plusser packs a 5.5-inch panel with a resolution of 1,920 by 1,080. There is no cutting-edge design here.
Overall, the iPhone X takes this one.
The iPhone X and iPhone 8 Plus have a similar camera configuration. Both feature a dual 12MP sensor on the back, one for wide-angle photos and the other for portraits. But whereas the iPhone 8 Plus only gets optical image stabilization for a single sensor (the wide-angle camera), the iPhone X features dual optical image stabilization to cover both. This makes a difference in low-light, where the iPhone X should outperform it.
The iPhone 8, meanwhile, is stuck with a traditional setup, a 12MP camera that has a wide-angle f/1.8 lens. The iPhone X and the iPhone 8 feature an f/1.8 lens for the wide-angle sensor and an f/2.4 lens for the portrait lens. The smaller the number, the more light reaches the sensor.
The iPhone X and iPhone 8 Plus also get Portrait Lighting, which enables users to alter the lighting in a photo after the fact. The iPhone 8 does not get this, nor does it get Portrait mode, which lets users play with bokeh.
Another area where the iPhone X and the iPhone 8 Plus come on top is in terms of zoom. Both offer optical zoom, whereas the iPhone 8 is stuck with digital zoom. The optical zoom is enabled by the second camera, which has a narrower field of view.
All offer 4K video recording at up to 60FPS, optical image stabilization for videos, slow-motion video, and a quad-LED flash with slow sync, among the main features.
That's the main camera covered, but what about the front shooter? The iPhone X is slightly better here as well, featuring what Apple calls a "TrueDepth" camera. It's got a 7MP sensor, with an f/2.2 lens, retina flash, and 1080p video recording, just like the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus.
But it adds portrait mode, portrait lighting and animoji. The last feature enables the iPhone X to mimic your face in animated emoji (hence the name animoji). Imagine a poop emoji that reflects how you talk, with your voice in the background, and you get the picture.
Overall, the iPhone X takes this one. The iPhone 8 Plus comes really close, but the superior optical image stabilization that the iPhone X has and its more advanced front-facing camera make it the best of the bunch.
Apple has equipped the iPhone X, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus with the same A11 Bionic processor, which uses a 64-bit architecture, with a Neural engine and an M11 motion coprocessor. What this means is that performance should be identical.
The iPhone 8 is likely to be stressed less when running resource-intensive apps, like power-hungry games. Why? Its display has the lowest number of pixels, which helps performance. In practice, however, all should fare similarly.
Apple says that the iPhone X lasts two hours more than the iPhone 7, while the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus perform "about the same" as their predecessors. But what does that actually mean in terms of real-world usage?
The iPhone X matches the iPhone 8 Plus in terms of talk time, with a figure of 21 hours, while the iPhone 8 comes last with 14 hours.
Both the iPhone X and the iPhone 8 get around 12 hours of battery life for "Internet use," while the iPhone 8 Plus trumps both with 13 hours.
In terms of wireless video playback, the iPhone X and the iPhone 8 again promise the same battery life, namely 13 hours. And, again, the iPhone 8 Plus comes out ahead with 14 hours.
Things are a bit different for audio, as the iPhone X has the same performance as the iPhone 8 Plus, 60 hours, while the iPhone 8 comes in last with 40 hours.
Apple adds that users can expect to charge their iPhone X, iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus up to 50 percent in half an hour. The addition of fast charging is likely to make things much easier for heavy users. Also worth noting, is that all come with Qi wireless charging baked in.
So, which one is best? The iPhone 8 Plus takes first place, though the iPhone X is not that far behind. The iPhone 8 has the shortest battery life.
Face ID or Touch ID?
With the iPhone X, Apple has dropped Touch ID. The new flagship comes with facial recognition technology, which it calls Face ID. Meanwhile, the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus, which are similar to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus in terms of design, retain Touch ID.
What is the difference here? Well, Apple has worked to ensure that there will be a smooth transition for users, so nothing should be affected as a result. Apple Pay will work with Face ID just fine, for instance.
That said, you will have to be within a certain distance and angle to the iPhone X to unlock it, whereas with the iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus you can just rest a finger on the home button to have it go straight to the homescreen.
The iPhone X will be available in just two colors, Silver and Space Gray. The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus can also be had in Gold. There is another difference worth mentioning. The iPhone X comes with a black front, regardless of the color you choose, while the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus come with matching front and rear panels.
The iPhone X has a huge advantage over the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. It packs the biggest display in a package that is only marginally bigger than the iPhone 8. It comes in at 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7 mm (5.65 x 2.79 x 0.3in) and weighs just 174g (6.14oz).
By comparison, the iPhone 8 measures 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3 mm (5.45 x 2.65 x 0.29in) and weighs 148g (5.22oz). The iPhone 8 Plus dwarfs both of them at 158.4 x 78.1 x 7.5 mm (6.24 x 3.07 x 0.3in) and 202g (7.13oz).
So, while technically the iPhone X should be hard to handle, the novel display means that it is actually very compact. It is the most well-rounded of the three, and the one we would recommend if you want a massive display in a package that's easy to handle.
Normally, this would not be something that we have to discuss, but because the iPhone X comes with a novel display it will take some time before all the apps that you love can take full advantage of it. When Apple changes things, developers usually respond pretty quickly, but, even so, there are apps that will not get updated right away.
Pricing (and storage)
The iPhone X is the most-expensive of the three, by far. It will be offered in two models, one with 64GB and the other with 128GB, at $999 and $1,149, respectively. The higher price is unlikely to deter consumers, but if you are looking for something more affordable then you need to consider the iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus.
The base iPhone 8 costs $699, for which you get 64GB of storage. The 256GB model is priced at $849. It is the least expensive of the three. The iPhone 8 Plus comes in the middle, with the 64GB model costing $799 and the 256GB version offered at $949.
Which one should you buy?
Ultimately, it boils down to performance preference and the budget that you have.
The iPhone X is the most impressive new iPhone, and if you want the best that Apple has to offer then choosing it is a no-brainer. It has all the latest tech you can get today and the best balance between display size and one-handed usability. If money is no object, go for it.
That said, there are still good reasons why you should consider the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus.
The iPhone 8 is the best option if you want a small flagship smartphone that is sensibly priced. At $699, it offers great value for money in the iPhone space while not sacrificing much in terms of features. The display is its weakest point, though many people seem to be happy with it, based on how well the iPhone 7 has been selling.
The iPhone 8 Plus, meanwhile, is the best option if you want a large smartphone, without going into iPhone X pricing and design territory. For $799, you get nearly everything that the iPhone X has, save obviously for that novel display and some bits and bobs here and there, so there is not much that you will be missing, though it is significantly bigger.