The first reviews for Apple's new iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are rolling in, and the critics seem pleased — even if they're not exactly giddy.
While most love the new cameras, some reviewers experienced bugs with the new Portrait Mode lighting, a feature that's still in beta. The new louder speakers also won applause, as did Apple's superfast A11 Bionic CPU. Most, though, weren't thrilled with the smartphone's aging design and LCD screen, as they don't hold up in comparison to what you get in flagship Android devices and the upcoming iPhone X.
Are the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus handsets you'll love, or ones you'll regret in months when the iPhone X debuts? Here's what the critics are saying.
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In his review, Tom's Guide editor-in-chief Mark Spoonauer noted that the "iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus aren’t mere consolation prizes to Apple’s spotlight-hogging flagship." Not all was perfect, though, as he highlighted how the phone lags the competition on design and asks a lot for its special charging features.
"With a bigger and faster sensor, the 12-megapixel camera on the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus takes some of the best-looking photos I’ve seen from a phone. In fact, some shots I took outshone the stellar Galaxy Note 8, which has been our favorite camera phone."
"On Geekbench 4, which measures overall performance, the iPhone 8 was in another league, turning in a multicore score of 10,170. [That's] 54 percent faster than the fastest Android flagship."
"Bezels this large on a late-2017 phone above and below the display seems dated compared not just with the iPhone X but also the Galaxy S8 and other Android phones that are going the edge-to-edge route. My complaint isn’t just about aesthetics; having smaller bezels makes it easier to use a phone with one hand and fit it in a front pocket."
"The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are capable of reaching 50 percent charge in just 30 minutes over a wired connection, but only if you invest in additional gear. You’ll need to spring for a 29-watt USB-C power adapter ($49) and a USB-C to Lightning cable ($15 to $25). That’s pretty crappy given that phones like the Galaxy S8 come with a fast wired charging adapter and cable in the box."
In his review, The Verge editor-in-chief Nilay Patel admired the cameras, CPUs and AR perks of the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, but remarked that the new phones aren't a must for those with last year's iPhone 7 or 7 Plus in their pocket.
"We ran around shooting with an iPhone 8, a Pixel XL, and S8, and iPhone 7 on auto, and the iPhone 8 produced the most consistent and richest images of the group,"
"The iPhone 8’s upgraded stereo speakers are impressively good. Just as on the iPhone 7, the earpiece gets really loud to act as the second speaker, but the whole system gets up to 25 percent louder now. You can hear actual stereo separation, which is wild."
"I use a non-AR stargazing app called SkyView Free all the time, and the AR-enabled Sky Guide AR was a particular revelation — the tracking is so much better than anything I’ve ever seen. This stuff is going to be really fun to play with as it rolls out."
"After spending a week with the 8, I can’t think of a single compelling reason to upgrade from an iPhone 7. The 7 is still extremely fast, offers virtually the same design in a lighter package with a bigger battery, and will get almost every feature of the 8 with iOS 11. If you really want Qi wireless charging, you can get a slim $15 case that supports it. And if you’re dying for Portrait Lighting, there are tons of photo apps in the App Store that offer similar effects."
"And I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that there’s no headphone jack, which is still routinely annoying on every phone that omits it. Apple’s own headphone dongle is one of the lowest-rated products on the Apple Store, with just 1.5 stars. It’s been a year, and the Lightning audio ecosystem is still extremely immature. All the more reason for Apple to clean up all those wireless audio settings."
In his mostly-positive review, TechCrunch editor-in-chief Matthew Panzarino focused on the cameras of the new iPhones so much that he starts his review noting "This is a camera review."
"The return of the glass back is going to be a love-it-or-hate-it feature of the iPhone 8. But for me, it’s a love it. Since I gave up my iPhone 4s, I’ve been missing that feel you get from having both sides of the phone coated in glass. There’s something about the texture of glass. It’s smoother than the aluminum, but typically less slippery and easier to grip."
"[Portrait Mode's] studio and contour options are going to be flooding social networks and phones internet-wide as soon as people get their hands on their iPhone 8 Pluses. The stage lighting takes a bit more effort, but when you nail it and the software is able to do its job by accurately detecting hair and head shapes, it really stuns. It can produce images that feel professional and would take dozens of lights and pieces of equipment to pull off."
"Because [Portrait Lighting] is still in beta, there are obviously things it will have trouble with for now, like curly or fine hair. It’s not perfect but it’s still very impressive."
In his reviews of the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus, CNET's Scott Stein approved of the larger model, but didn't see the need for the smaller handset.
"[The iPhone 8 Plus's] camera, already great a year ago, has gotten even more refined and fantastic-looking. I've been using it for nearly a week and so has CNET Senior Photographer James Martin. We're both impressed."
"... the level of graphic detail in ARKit apps is stunning: It feels richer than VR, even if in a sense it is less immersive."
"My [Portrait Mode] mileage varied: Sometimes the effect was stunning, but other times it looked very fake and weirdly clipped. I wouldn't upgrade my phone for it, but it can be fun to toy with. It will undoubtedly get better."
"iPhone 7 owners won't see much of a difference here, unless they've been waiting anxiously for wireless charging. I'd say they can skip the 8 -- but they should check out the 8 Plus and the X."
In his review of the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, Engadget senior editor Chris Velazco approved Apple's return to an all-glass design and praised the new cameras. He did not think iPhone 8's screen, though, holds a candle to those in competitors.
"Some have expressed concern about Apple's shift away from mostly metal bodies, and they're right to be. Who hasn't seen someone still using an iPhone with a cracked screen? ... These glossier, glassier 8s are still nick-free after a week of being tossed into the hellscape that is my backpack."
"My test shots came through with more impactful colors and slightly more detail than the same photos taken with a 7 Plus. Nuances that the iPhone 7 Plus's camera smoothed a little too much appeared more crisp with Apple's new cameras. In most daylight shots, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus captured more detailed photos than Samsung's Galaxy Note 8. The differences were subtle, but definitely there."
"the screens used in the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are mostly the same as the ones they were meant to replace."
"I can't help but be disappointed that neither of these new phones supports HDR content. Services like Amazon Prime and Netflix have slowly been making these extra-punchy videos more accessible, and I've recently been spoiled by screens in devices like the Galaxy Note 8 and the LG V30."
Credit: Shaun Lucas/Tom's Guide