Now that we have Apple's latest phone in hand, we can confirm what our first impression of the iPhone X. The new phone represents the epitome of Apple design, with an edge-to-edge OLED screen, a breakthrough depth-sensing camera — and a price that many of us can’t afford.
Don’t have a grand to blow on a new phone? You’re not settling if you buy the iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus. In fact, there are several reasons to choose these lower-cost alternatives over Apple’s ultra-premium flagship (particularly if you’re eyeing the iPhone 8 Plus).
Here’s why you can feel perfectly justified skipping the iPhone X and getting the iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus instead.
Great cameras (especially for iPhone 8 Plus)
Both the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus boast bigger and faster camera sensors — just like the iPhone X — to deliver richer colors, faster autofocus and better low-light performance. The iPhone 8 Plus’ dual lenses are so great, we named it our top camera phone overall, beating out the Galaxy Note 8.
The iPhone X does have some small advantages: both of its rear shooters offer optical image stabilization and the telephoto lens on back of the iPhone X has a wider aperture (f/2.4) than the one on the 8 Plus (f/2.8). But you’ll be more than happy with either the iPhone 8 or 8 Plus. The Plus is even better than its more compact counterpart because you get 2x optical zoom.
Familiar Touch ID
The iPhone X’s Face ID feature, which leverages a new TrueDepth camera to recognize your mug and unlock your phone, sure looks fancy and it works pretty well in our initial testing. But Touch ID is easy to use, and you can unlock your phone or confirm Apple Pay purchases by pressing a finger right under the home screen.
With the iPhone X, you need to swipe up even after Face ID realizes it’s you. And as we've found out, Face ID takes a little bit longer than Touch ID did. We're talking fractions of a second, but that can add up over multiple unlocks in a given day.
You don’t have to give up the Home button
The iPhone X isn’t just giving the physical Home button the heave-ho, there isn’t a virtual one, either, as there is on the Galaxy S8.
Instead, Apple is forcing users to use new gestures on the iPhone X. You swipe up to return to the home screen, or swipe up and hold briefly to riffle through open apps. The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus have more familiar controls that won’t force you to learn anything new.
Same blistering A11 Bionic performance
The new A11 Bionic chip in the iPhone 8 is so fast, it makes Android phones look like they’re stuck in quicksand. We saw it for ourselves when we pitted this processor against the Snapdragon 835 chip inside Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 in a series of real-world tests and synthetic benchmarks.
In our video-editing test, the iPhone 8 and iPhone X turned in the same blazing 42-second time. Our Geekbench results were a hair better on the iPhone 8 Plus, though any A11-powered phone is going to leave the current Android devices in the dust.
The upshot: you’re not giving up a lick of performance by going the cheaper route.
You can easily get one this year
This shouldn't be a surprise after all those reports about production delays and possible shortages at launch, but if you didn't already pre-order your iPhone the moment sales opened on Oct. 27, you're going to have a hard time getting your hands on one. The phone is already in short supply, with some predicting that Apple will have trouble keeping up with demand until at least February of 2018.
A quick check at Verizon found all three iPhone 8 colors available at multiple stores within 15 minutes of me. Preorder the iPhone X from the carrier, though, and I wouldn't be able to expect delivery until Dec. 1. If I want an iPhone X before then, it looks like I'd have to brave the crowds on Nov. 3 when the new phone hits stores and hope that Apple has enough supply on hand. Not very promising.
This one is a no-brainer. The iPhone X starts at a steep $999, and you’ll pay a whopping $1,199 for 256GB of storage. That’s MacBook territory.
The iPhone 8 has a starting price of $699 and the iPhone 8 Plus runs $799. For the price of the 64GB iPhone X, you could get a 256GB iPhone 8 Plus and still have $50 left over to go toward an iPhone 8 case or apps.
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Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.