iPhone 8 Plus review

The iPhone 8 Plus is a cheap feature-filled alternative to newer iPhones

iPhone 8 Plus
iPhone 8 Plus

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The iPhone 8 Plus is a great phone – there's no doubt about that. At launch it was a better phone than anything Apple had produced before - albeit shown up by the iPhone X - 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.

iPhone 8 Plus review

The glass back on the iPhone 8 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 was a nice upgrade from Apple, especially in decent light, and a genuine highlight over the iPhone 7 Plus.

iPhone 8 Plus review

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. It's expensive, but 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 (and the 2018 models) 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/XS/XS Max/XR are exciting, whereas the 8 Plus is just more of the same.

Who's it for?

The iPhone 8 Plus is a phone for the Apple fan who wants solid battery life and a big screen, without having to pay the premium the iPhone X or iPhone XR 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 iPhones… the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are using the rapidly-tiring shape that Apple has been offering for years, where the XS and XR phones are 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?

iPhone 8 Plus review

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 its predecessor, 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, you intend to keep the handset for a number of years, and you can't stretch to the iPhone XR. Apple sells better iPhones for a little more and iPhones that are almost as good for a little less.

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 XR

iPhone XR

Of the new iPhones that Apple launched in 2018, the iPhone XR is closest to the iPhone 8 Plus in price – $749 / £749 / AU$1,229 for the XR against $699 / £699 / AU$1,149 for the 8 Plus.

That's not a huge price difference, and it's hard to justify buying the old-style iPhone 8 Plus for the sake of saving a few dollars or pounds. The iPhone XR is faster and has a bigger display, though on the other hand the iPhone 8 Plus is still plenty fast enough and features a dual-lens rear camera.

iPhone 8

iPhone 8

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.

Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus

Maybe you've been thinking of leaving the Apple camp? If so, jump to our best phone on the market, with the S10 Plus bringing five camera lenses (three on the back, two on the front) and a top-quality screen.

Alternatively, you might want to consider the cheaper Samsung Galaxy S10, which is still high-end but a little smaller at 6.1 inches - that still makes it bigger than the iPhone 8 Plus though.

Be warned though: Android is a different world to the slick experience of iOS, and you might struggle initially with the change. Google's Android Pie update is solid, but you'll never get iMessages on Android.

Samsung Galaxy S10e

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Maybe you want a quality Android phone but can't quite stretch to the admittedly expensive Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus? In that case the Samsung Galaxy S10e is made with you in mind.

It has a slightly bigger screen than the iPhone 8 Plus at 5.8 inches, but it's wrapped into a surprisingly compact body, with minimal bezels and a punch-hole camera.

Speaking of cameras, there's an impressive dual-lens one on the back, plus all the power you'd expect from a 2019 flagship. It lacks the curved screen, in-screen fingerprint scanner and extra lenses of the rest of the range, but then the iPhone 8 Plus doesn't have those either.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.