iPhone 8 review

Trusted iOS feel and features at a cheap price

iPhone 8
Image credit: TechRadar

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Don’t let the iPhone 8 name fool you – this is very much the iPhone 7S, an incremental upgrade on 2016’s 4.7-inch iPhone with a few additions here and there, but nothing to really wow.

The iPhone 8 is still an excellent smartphone; it’s premium, powerful, and boasts a great camera and a wealth of applications. For the average iPhone user it fits the bill, but for those hoping for more given the higher price tag, you’re out of luck.

The extra power under the hood means everything is slick on screen, but no more so than the already snappy iPhone 7, and while the glass rear is a nice change of pace, and wireless charging support a handy convenience, they don’t exactly excite.

Essentially, the presence of the iPhone X has ruined the 8's chance of being a lust-worthy phone - yes, it's a cheaper route into a new iPhone, but Apple's brand is built on always wanting the best available, and this phone - therefore - feels like second best.

Who's it for?

The iPhone 8 is a phone for those wanting the latest Apple has to offer, but who lack the funds to splash on the iPhone X, or the financial desire (or palm size) for the larger iPhone 8 Plus.

It doesn’t offer anything that really makes it stand out from other phones on the market, other than the Apple logo and access to iOS, and while its smaller form factor means it’s easier to handle than most flagship phones, it also has fewer big features to boast about.

Should I buy it?

The iPhone 8 sits in an awkward position. It’s slightly better than the iPhone 7, but costs more, and doesn’t have the same features as the more expensive 8 Plus and X.

Unless you absolutely must have the latest iPhone, but can’t afford the iPhone X or 8 Plus, the iPhone 8 shouldn’t be for you. 

Those wanting a powerful iPhone with a solid camera and a day of battery life are better off looking at the iPhone 7, as it at leasts offers better value for money in Apple’s lineup.

That said, if you’re at the end of your current two-year iPhone contract and just want to upgrade from your iPhone 6 or 6S, the jump to the iPhone 8 will be noticeable for you, and you’re unlikely to have any complaints.

It looks, feels and works just like your old iPhone, only it’s a little quicker, a little smarter and a little more expensive – it’s new, sure, but there’s a heavy dose of comfort in its familiarity.

There’s plenty of competition for the iPhone 8, and we’ve lined up some of the key alternatives for your viewing pleasure below.

iPhone XR

The iPhone XR is a year newer than the iPhone 8 but it's positioned as a 'budget' option. With a starting price of $749 / £749 / AU$1229 for 64GB of storage it's still considerably more expensive, but does have a fresher, iPhone XS-like design, a more powerful chipset and a bigger 6.1-inch screen.

Given the new design, it also has Face ID but lacks a home button or Touch ID, while much of the rest of the phone - including its rear camera - is similar to that of the iPhone 8.

The changes are probably enough to justify the extra outlay, but if it's outside of your budget or you want a more compact screen, you won't go wrong with the iPhone 8.

iPhone 7

If you want to save yourself a few bucks and you don’t already have one, the iPhone 7 is an excellent choice.

It may not have a glossy glass back, wireless charging or the latest A11 Bionic chipset, but it’s got the iOS 11 update, so on-screen it looks and feels identical to the iPhone 8, it’s dust- and water-resistant, plus the camera is pretty much on a par as well.

Oh – and did we mention it’s cheaper too?

iPhone 8 Plus

For those desperate for a new iPhone, but too impatient (or financially weak) for the iPhone X, the iPhone 8 Plus is the better choice of the two new iPhones bearing the number 8 in their name.

The larger, 5.5-inch screen gives you a Full HD resolution, making it better for movies and gaming, while round the back there’s a dual camera setup versus the single snapper on the iPhone 8.

The dual cameras give you additional features over the iPhone 8, including Apple’s impressive Portrait Mode, along with the new Portrait Lighting effect. Battery life is a little better than the iPhone 8’s as well.

Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact

What if you don’t want a huge phone, or a phone that’s a year old? Is there any other choice? Well, funny you should ask, because yes there is.

The Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact launched just a few weeks before the iPhone 8, and offers a 4.6-inch 720p display, Snapdragon 835 chipset, 4GB of RAM, 19MP rear-facing camera, 8MP front-facing camera and a 2,700mAh battery.

On paper, then, it’s a direct match for the iPhone 8, so the question you need to ask yourself is: iOS or Android? Choose.

John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.