The Apple iPhone 8 is the highest-performing single-camera smartphone we have tested with our new protocols, with an impressive Overall score of 92. Despite having a smaller 1/2.8-inch sensor, it edges out our previous top scorers, the HTC U11 and the Google Pixel. This demonstrates how much Apple has been able to accomplish with the hardware and software that complement the sensor and are used for image processing. The iPhone 8 also provides major improvements over the iPhone 7 in a number of areas, including capturing HDR images, as well as flash performance.
Key camera specifications:
12MP main (wide-angle) camera with BSI sensor, f/1.8 lens
Optical image stabilization
Quad-LED True Tone flash with Slow sync
Autofocus with Focus Pixels
Wide-gamut color capture
Body and face detection
The Apple iPhone 8 is one of the best-performing mobile device cameras we have ever tested at DxOMark. Its overall score of 92 puts it ahead of every smartphone camera we’ve tested other than its larger and more expensive sibling, the iPhone 8 Plus.
Because the main camera on the iPhone 8 is identical to the one on the iPhone 8 Plus, we have covered both phones, including comparison images, in our iPhone 8 Plus review. Only the Zoom and Bokeh capabilities provided by the Phone 8 Plus’s second camera give it a major advantage over the iPhone 8. For a detailed review of how the iPhone 8 camera performs, please read our review of the iPhone 8 Plus. However, we’ll cover the scores for the iPhone 8 and recap some of its highlights here as well.
Images captured outdoors with the iPhone 8 are generally stunning, with excellent detail preservation, accurate color, and impressive dynamic range. The iPhone 8 builds on the outstanding performance of the iPhone 7 family with its excellent performance in bright light. In particular, it has improved exposure calculation, and excellent ability to capture HDR (High Dynamic Range) scenes.
Put the iPhone 8 Plus next to the iPhone 7 Plus and you’ll hardly notice a difference. The 8 Plus is marginally thicker and longer, but it should still be able to fit in any 7 Plus case. It carries the same design theme from the iPhone 6, but the major difference is a new glass back, which allows it to support wireless charging technology. Apple said it’s the most durable glass ever in a smartphone, with a “50 percent deeper strengthening layer,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will survive a drop on concrete. You’d be wise to protect it with a case.
The other differences are minor. There are fewer color options now: Gold, silver, and space gray (goodbye rose gold and jet black). The silver and space gray models are similar to the silver and black iPhone 7 Plus devices, but the gold is slightly more champagne-gold. The rear has a creamy, pinkish hue that we like, and the “aerospace-grade” aluminum sides are a darker gold. It’s undoubtedly attractive, and elegant.
Adding to this elegance are the antenna bands, which have been moved to the sides, rather than visibly sticking out at the top and bottom. It makes the rear look more minimal than ever, as there’s just the dual camera module and flash at the top, along with the Apple and iPhone logo. Even the iconic “Designed by Apple in California” line has been stripped.
Sadly, the camera still juts out of the frame. Most flagship Android phones have evolved past this camera bump; why can’t Apple do the same? Even the iPhone X has this annoyance. Cameras look better when they’re flush with the rear, and it gives us more peace of mind when placing the phone down on any flat surface.
The iPhone 8 Plus is noticeably heavier than the iPhone 7 Plus, but not in a bad way. The added heft makes it feel as though the phone won’t slide out of our hands. The glass back is smooth and cool to the touch, but you won’t feel much of a difference if you’re coming from a Jet Black iPhone. It’s still a fingerprint magnet, but at least they’re less visible on the gold and silver colors.
As usual, you’ll find the power button on the right edge, with the volume rocker and mute switch on the left. The force-sensitive home button sits on the front (it may be the last iPhone with a home button), and you’ll find a Lightning port on the bottom with the speakers. There’s no headphone jack again, sadly, but there is a Lightning to 3.5mm headphone jack adapter in the box. The iPhone 8 Plus is once again IP67 dust- and water-resistant, so you can take it underwater up to 1 meter for 30 minutes. We’d have liked to see an improved IP68 water resistance, like Samsung’s smartphones, but IP67 should be more than enough for most situations.
As much as we admire the rear, flip the iPhone 8 Plus over and it feels like we’ve traveled back in time to 2015. The iPhone X is Apple’s edge-to-edge “bezel-less” competitor to phones like Samsung’s Galaxy S8 or Note 8, and the LG V30. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus? Not so much. The screen is flanked by chunky edges that make the phone’s design look dated and unpleasant.
The bezel-less trend isn’t just about aesthetics. Shrinking the edges around the screen offers more display in a smaller package. The iPhone X is a good example. It’s just barely bigger than the 4.7-inch iPhone 8, but it boasts a 5.8-inch display. You’re getting a bigger screen than the bulky 5.5-inch iPhone 8 Plus, all in a smaller frame.
The iPhone 8 Plus is unwieldy, and it’s near impossible to reach the top of the phone. Thankfully, you can lightly tap the home button twice to lower the interface so it’s reachable. It’s a shame, though, that Apple is forcing people to shell out more money for a more relevant and functional design.
At the end of the day, the iPhone 8 Plus is still an iPhone. If you don’t care for the features or price of the iPhone X, you know exactly what you’re getting with the iPhone 8 Plus because it’s incredibly similar to the past few iPhones. Just know that with the X, you’re paying a premium for Apple’s next-gen design.
Fantastic True Tone Display, Louder SpeakersThe iPhone 8 Plus’ display isn’t any different from the iPhone 7 Plus. It’s a 5.5-inch LCD IPS screen with a 1,920 × 1,080-pixel resolution (401 pixels-per-inch). It can get incredibly bright for easy viewing in direct sunlight; and as always, the colors are accurate and visually pop off the screen. Looking at it from the side, the display looks like a sheet of paper, because it doesn’t catch as much glare as other smartphones. It’s absolutely a joy to stare at and use.
What is new, however, is True Tone technology. A feature that’s trickled down from the iPad Pro, True Tone automatically changes the iPhone’s display “based on ambient lighting conditions to make colors appear consistent in different environments.” So for example, in incandescent lighting where everything has a yellow hue, the display will shift from slightly cool to a warmer tone. It can be tough to notice, but it works like a charm, and it makes it easier for your eyes to adapt to the screen.
The stereo speakers have also improved. They’re decently louder than the iPhone 7 Plus (about 25 percent to be exact), but they sound richer as well. We listened to Fiona Apple’s “Why Try To Change Me Now,” and on the iPhone 7 Plus it sounded like I was playing an MP3 file, but on the iPhone 8 Plus it felt as though she could have been in the same room.
Again, these are minor improvements over last year’s phone, but the display is now a little more adaptive to your environment, and you’ll have a slightly better listening experience when playing music with the speakers.
Unrivaled Performance, AR For The MassesOne category where Apple continues to blow away the competition is performance. Apple’s processors outperform anything from Qualcomm or Samsung, and the same rings true for the A11 Bionic in the 8, 8 Plus, and X.
In official Geekbench scores, the six-core A11 Bionic hit a whopping 4,198 on its single-core score, and 9,983 on multicore. In our test, it scored similarly: 4,238 and 10,453 respectively. For comparison, our Galaxy S8 scored 1,762 single core, and 5,723 multi core. In our own test with the AnTuTu benchmarking tool, the iPhone 8 Plus scored 222,462. Our S8’s AnTuTu score is 155,253, and HTC’s U11 scored 175,748. It’s fair to say the iPhone is more powerful.
But benchmarks aside, it’ll be tough to spot the performance improvement from the iPhone 7 Plus. The iOS operating system moves just as fluid, apps open incredibly quickly, and scrolling feels buttery smooth. Apple said this performance bump will be handy for machine learning and artificial intelligence, but one way to perhaps see the A11 Bionic’s true power is through augmented reality.
Apple has brought AR to the masses, not with the iPhone 8, but with iOS 11. ARKit is the new framework developers can use to provide augmented features with your iPhone camera. For example, one of our favorite ARKit apps, Ikea Place, lets you drop Ikea furniture into your house to see how it would fit in with the rest of your furniture, and if it can actually fit in the room. An app called AR MeasureKit can impressively find the measurement of objects you point the iPhone camera towards (goodbye rulers).
Gaming is where the A11 shines, and credit is due to the Apple-designed graphics processing unit. We played augmented reality games like Euclidean Lands, Conduct AR!, and The Machines, and the graphics look great. We never ran into any performance issues whatsoever, but the phone did start to get quite hot.
One of the best HDR performances of any device we have tested
Very accurate autofocus
Color cast in low and indoor (tungsten) lighting
Some autofocus delays in both bright and low light
Very good stabilization
Best exposure of any Apple device, but still not industry-leading
Very good color rendering under almost all lighting condtions
Good face tracking in bright light
Some exposure issues in low light
Visible noise in low-light conditions