The iPhone 8 Plus is a great phone – there’s no doubt about that. It’s a better phone that anything Apple has produced before, and it’s, well, just done in a very Apple way.
That’s not fawning over the brand, it’s a nod to the effort that Apple puts into making sure its phones just work, and in a way that adds in flourishes that impress.
Whether that’s a subtle haptic double buzz when pressing the shutter on the camera, or being able to ‘feel’ the numbers clicking when selecting the time on the alarm, it’s those little delights that… delight.
The glass back on the new iPhone Plus is probably the most noticeable change, to enable wireless charging – it’s a different look, and if the drops we inadvertently subjected the phone to are anything to go by, it’s pretty robust.
The wireless charging is a handy addition, but it’s not earth-shattering… you’ll enjoy it if you’ve got a pad, but it’s not as rapid as connecting a lead.
The camera enhancements are subtle, but impressive, as is the speed boost the A11 Bionic chip offers – you won’t notice much out of the box, but the little extras it brings do offer something different.
The Portrait Lighting mode is a nice upgrade from Apple, especially in decent light, and a genuine highlight over the iPhone 7 Plus.
Battery life has sadly not taken the leap forward we’re desperate to see from Apple – if you’ve always lived within the iPhone ecosystem you’ll be pleased with the battery performance on offer, but there’s still the feeling that more could be done here.
In short, the iPhone 8 Plus is a great phone. Based on the spec list, it’s too expensive, but it’s filled with the little touches Apple is known for that smooth the smartphone experience to such a degree that you’ll feel glad you paid more.
The thing is, the presence of the iPhone X renders the 8 Plus unexciting. It's an old design with the same features as before, just a bit more refined again. The iPhone X is exciting, the 8 Plus just more of the same.
Who’s it for?
The iPhone 8 Plus is a phone for the Apple fan who wants the longest battery life possible, and the most screen to look at, without having to pay the premium the iPhone X costs.
That said, if you’re going to pay this much, you should think hard about spending a little more to get the headline new iPhone… the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are using the rapidly-tiring shape that Apple has been offering for years, where the X is a whole new experience.
Also, if you’re a video fiend, you should only buy the iPhone 8 Plus if you’re happy to fork out for the 256GB model, otherwise you’ll run out of space within a few months if you don’t siphon off your movies.
Should I buy it?
This is a tough one… because, right now, we’re not sure there’s a huge upgrade here over the iPhone 7 Plus. The power doesn’t seem that much better in the iPhone 8 Plus over last year’s model, which is odd given the disparity in benchmarks.
The camera is just a touch improved (although noticeably so in some scenarios) and the screen tech a subtle boost.
In short, you should really only go for the iPhone 8 Plus if you especially want wireless charging and you intend to keep the handset for a number of years… if that’s the case, future-proofing yourself as much as possible is a smart move.
Not convinced the iPhone 8 Plus is for you? Check out these alternatives we've cooked up for you - they're close enough to what's on offer here but offer some nicely different features...
iPhone 7 Plus
The iPhone 7 Plus offers a lot of similar features to the 8 Plus - only the Portrait Lighting, True Tone display and wireless charging are missing as features.
You might miss the extra power on offer in a couple of years' time if you get this phone on contract, but the difference between the two right now is minimal, and the 7 Plus a little cheaper.
- Read our iPhone 7 Plus review
The iPhone 8 is the smaller option of this handset, and it's cheaper too - however, it has fewer bytes of RAM, a lower-res screen and a smaller battery. It's the one to choose if the Plus is just too chunky, otherwise go for the bigger model as it's the better performer.
- Read our iPhone 8 review
Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus
Maybe you've been thinking of leaving the Apple camp? If so, jump to our best phone on the market, with the S8 Plus bringing a lower cost, amazing screen and great camera.
Be warned though: Android is a different world to the slick experience of iOS, and you might struggle initially with the change.
- Read our Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus review