The iPhone X is easily Apple's most hyped device in years, and now that preorders for the new phone are starting, we're taking a second look at another new iPhone that's already available to buy: the iPhone 8 Plus.
Credit: AppleSure, it doesn't have the overhauled design or a few of the cutting-edge features that make the iPhone X so compelling, but the 8 Plus is a worthy device in its own right. Plus, you don't have to wait in line to snag one.
We compared the iPhone X and iPhone 8 Plus in six categories to see which is worth your money.
The iPhone X's edge-to-edge display has captured most of the attention this iPhone launch season, but the elegant glass back is just as stunning as the nearly bezel-free front. Apple extended that all-glass aesthetic to its entire 2017 lineup, including the iPhone 8 Plus.
The 8 Plus wins bonus points for coming in three colors, as opposed to the iPhone X's limited range of two: silver and space gray. The iPhone 8 Plus comes in those two colors plus gold, which is more of a pearlescent champagne tone compared to the gold shades of past iPhones.
Close-up of the iPhone X's thin bezels. Credit: AppleBut the iPhone X packs a larger, 5.8-inch screen in a smaller, sleeker package than the iPhone 8 Plus, which sports a 5.5-inch display. The X weighs 6.1 ounces and measures 5.6 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches. The 7.1-ounce 8 Plus is considerably larger by comparison, with a 6.2 x 3.1 x 0.3-inch frame. This means the X is easier to hold and use with one hand.
Our Pick: iPhone X. We wish it came in more colors, but the X packs a larger display in a smaller frame with practically no bezels. It's a brand-new look for the iPhone, and it's undeniably better than the 8 Plus' design.
The iPhone X delivers Apple's first OLED smartphone display, and there's no contest: It figures to be the best iPhone display ever.
On paper, the X's 5.8-inch, Super Retina (2436 x 1125 pixels) display is impressive. The 5.5-inch LCD Retina HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) display in the 8 Plus is smaller than the X's but in a bigger package. The 8 Plus' display isn't low-quality by any standard — in fact, it's still one of the best out there — but it pales in comparison to the display on the iPhone X. We went hands-on with the X in September and discovered that the next-gen iPhone display is even more stunning in real life than it is on a spec sheet.
iPhone X. Credit: AppleApple brought the iPad's True Tone display to the iPhone X, which means the device senses ambient light and adjusts its brightness accordingly.
The iPhone X display does have one controversial feature: a black notch where the front-facing camera is housed. That notch intrudes on the display and could make watching videos or playing games a little awkward, but we're going to spend more time with the X to see if the notch is noticeable enough to make a difference.
Our Pick: iPhone X. The high-res OLED display is pretty close to perfect, and the notch isn't a deal breaker (at least not for us).
The iPhone X and 8 Plus both sport rear-facing 12-megapixel wide-angle and telephoto lenses; the X stacks its cameras vertically, while the 8 Plus cameras are side by side. Both phones also offer a new Portrait Lighting feature, which takes Portrait Mode's bokeh effects to the next level with post-processing light effects such as Natural, Studio, Stage Light and Contour.
iPhone 8 Plus portrait mode. Credit: Tom's GuideBut the X shines when it comes to the new 7-MP TrueDepth front-facing camera. That lens enables Face ID, the facial recognition unlocking mechanism that replaces Touch ID. Its capabilities are also more fun — just look at iMessage's new Animoji, animated emoji whose facial expressions mirror your own. Developers such as Snapchat can take advantage of the TrueDepth camera, too, so you'll see more augmented-reality features come to life.
iPhone X front-camera options. Credit: AppleThe iPhone X also brings Portrait Mode and Portrait Lighting to the front-facing camera.
Our Pick: iPhone X. With Portrait Mode and Portrait Lighting on both the front- and rear-facing cameras, plus optical image stabilization in both rear lenses, the X takes iPhone camera tech to the next level.
Apple says the iPhone X "lasts up to two hours longer than iPhone 7" and that the iPhone 8 Plus "lasts about the same as iPhone 7 Plus." Basically, the X and 8 Plus advertise comparable battery life, with up to 21 hours of talk time and about 12 to 13 hours of internet use. In the Tom's Guide Battery Test (continuous web browsing over LTE), the iPhone 8 Plus lasted 11 hours and 16 minutes, which actually outperformed the 7 Plus by nearly 40 minutes.
We haven't tested the iPhone X yet, but if Apple's estimates are accurate, we expect the X to improve upon the iPhone 8 Plus' performance.
Both devices support wireless charging and are fast-charge capable, so you can juice up to 50 percent battery in just 30 minutes.
Our Pick: Draw. We'll update this when the iPhone X battery results are in.
Apple put its next-generation A11 Bionic processor in every iPhone it produced this year, including the X, 8 and 8 Plus.
iPhone X. Credit: Apple We haven't tested the X's performance yet, but the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus blew every Android flagship out of the water in our benchmarking tests, beating the next-fastest Android phone by 54 percent. We expect the X to be on par, because it has the same chip and (reportedly) the same amount of RAM as the iPhone 8 Plus.
Our Pick: Draw. We'll update this when the iPhone X benchmarking test results are in.
The iPhone X is expensive — prohibitively so for some. With a starting price of $999 for 64GB of storage, the new phone costs as much as an entry-level MacBook. The 256GB version is $1,149.
The 8 Plus is $200 cheaper, at $799 for the 64GB version. You can boost the storage to 256GB on the 8 Plus and still pay less ($949) than what an iPhone X costs. When it comes to value, there's no contest: The 8 Plus offers amazing battery life, a great camera and insane processing power for less money.
Our Pick: iPhone 8 Plus.
Bottom Line: iPhone X Wins
We still need to run a multitude of tests on the iPhone X, but it edges out the iPhone 8 Plus when it comes to design, display and camera quality. If you don't want to spend $1,000 on an iPhone, or if the thought of dealing with launch-day lines or a potentially glitchy online preorder process gives you hives, know that the iPhone 8 Plus is a premium device with all the features you could possibly want. It might look a little old-fashioned, but some people hate change.
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The iPhone X is the early winner, but we'll update this piece with test results and impressions from our full review soon.