If there’s an iPhone to buy right now, it is the iPhone 8 Plus. It is quite unusual to start a review with what seems like a verdict. But, there seems to be no illusion about which is the best Apple smartphone to buy until the iPhone X is out. Having spent a few days using it as my primary driver, here’s my review of the Apple iPhone 8 Plus.
We have already reviewed the iPhone 8, and as is the case with every new iPhone, it is faster and better than ever before. But in the grand scheme of things, you tend to question the reason behind its existence. Apple has put all its efforts into the iPhone X, and it comes as little surprise that expectations are uncomfortably high. Between the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X though the iPhone 8 Plus sits quite comfortably.
Bigger and better, but…
The iPhone 8 Plus is just a bigger version of the iPhone 8. While it may not be radically different like the iPhone X, what the iPhone 8 design brings about is that sense of familiarity. But if I were to nitpick, I can’t help but feel that the overall design is dated. The bezels stand out like a sore, and the wide body makes it difficult to hold and operate the device with one hand. I commute to office everyday by train, and despite using the device for the past couple of weeks, I still don’t have the confidence to whip out the phone to check every notification. In fact, I’ve had to use an ugly case for some extra grip and peace of mind.
The likes of Samsung Galaxy Note 8, Xiaomi Mi MIX 2, or even Apple’s own iPhone X for that matter have set some high standards on what a smartphone should look like. The iPhone 8 Plus, unfortunately, falls way below that mark. ALSO READ: Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 Review: When a smartphone becomes an experience
With the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, Apple has introduced quite a few upgrades like True Tone display (borrowed from the iPad Pro), a hugely powerful A11 bionic chipset, and its own GPU. Be it watching videos, playing games or using one of the new ARKit apps, everything is just silky smooth.
But what the smaller variant misses out on is the iPhone 8 Plus’ camera. When you look at what the dual-camera setup is capable of, you cannot help but ask yourself – why does the iPhone 8 even exist? Since getting my hands on the iPhone 8 Plus, I have been shooting photos every day at all kinds of places, and in different lighting conditions. While the setup is largely similar to what you get on last year’s iPhone 7 Plus, Apple says it has made plenty of tweaks under the hood. And it shows.
In ideal lighting conditions, the iPhone 8 Plus is able to shoot photos that look as natural as possible. The tweaks that Apple mentions has had a huge effect on how the camera works in low light. I was left impressed with some of the photos that the camera managed when at relatively dark cafés. Focussing on subjects is quite fast. If you plan to shoot photos from a moving vehicle, prepare to be impressed with the results.
As we saw in our camera comparison, the iPhone 8 Plus is clearly more capable than the Samsung Galaxy Note 8. Apple’s smartphone was not only able to click more detailed photos, but they also looked more natural than Samsung’s vibrant images. RELATED: Apple iPhone 8 Plus vs Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs OnePlus 5: Dual cameras compared
Then there is the Portrait Mode, which is the USP of the iPhone 8 Plus’ dual cameras. The portraits you can click with the smartphone are not only miles ahead of the likes of the Galaxy Note 8, but the photos are a tad better than what can be managed with the iPhone 7 Plus as well.
With the iPhone 8 Plus, the subject can be within eight feet of you, and the camera does a far better job than before in figuring out where the edges are blurring out the background behind them. Portraits in low light too are much better than before.
With the iPhone 8 Plus (and the iPhone X), Apple has introduced what it calls ‘Portrait Lighting’. As we have detailed before, this feature lets you play around with the lighting effects in a portrait. There are four presets to choose from – Studio Light, Contour Light, Stage Light, and Stage Light Mono. While innovative, this feature is in beta, and it shows. They are no doubt fun to try out once in awhile, but you will end up using the original portrait mode a lot. As we have seen before though, by the time this feature comes out of beta, it is likely to be far better than what it is now.
One major disappointment on the iPhone 8 Plus is the support for fast charging. Hear me out. While it is no doubt a feature that many of us have been waiting for a long time, there is no fast charger bundled with the device. Instead you have to shell out extra for a fast charger. When paying over Rs 70,000 for a device, the least you can expect from a company is to provide compatible accessories in the box.
The other new feature is support for wireless charging, which is the primary reason for the iPhone 8 Plus featuring a glass back. Apple is touting its AirPower Mat that can charge your iPhone, Watch and AirPods at the same time. But while there is time before it goes on sale, there are a bunch of third-party wireless chargers you can buy. That said, the jury is still out on how practical wireless charging really is. On top of that, charging an iPhone 8 Plus is tediously slow. During my usage, it would take over two hours to fully charge the iPhone 8 Plus. In today’s times when every other company is offering fast charging, waiting for two hours to see your phone charge is down right frustrating.
While the iPhone 8 makes you question its existence, the iPhone 8 Plus is ‘almost’ everything you need from an Apple device. The big display with True Tone feature is gorgeous to look at, it is supremely fast, and the battery is big enough to last over a day (even if charging it is a tedious process).
While the dated design and the lack of a fast charger is a small letdown, there is no denying that the iPhone 8 Plus is among the best smartphones you could buy. Until the iPhone X hits the markets that is.
But, what really wants you to want to buy an iPhone 8 Plus is the camera. The dual-camera setup is among the very best you would find on any smartphone today, and if you are a casual photographer, you will not miss your DSLR at all.
There are two variants of the iPhone 8 Plus currently available in India. The 64GB variant is priced at Rs 73,000, and the 256GB variant is priced at Rs 86,000.
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