As is the norm around this time of the year, there’s a lot of buzz around the new iPhones. Like last year, Apple again launched three new iPhones earlier this month – iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and the iPhone XS Max.
Later today, two of these iPhones becoming available in India, and unsurprisingly, you will need to break the bank to get your hands on them. So it’s hardly surprising when a few asked me if it still makes sense to invest in one of last year’s iPhones. To hopefully answer a few of those questions, here’s my long-term review of 2017’s Apple iPhone 8 Plus.
Let’s start off with the positives first. The iPhone 8 Plus remains a beast of a device, and there is nothing the phone is not able to handle. The A11 Bionic chipset may have been trumped by this year’s A12 Bionic chipset, but it still manages to hold its own. Multitasking is a breeze, and you can really enjoy games like Asphalt 9: Legends and PUBG without noticing any drop in frame rates. The way it handles graphics-intensive games remains on par (if not better) than many premium flagship Android devices you can buy today.
With the ‘Plus’ variant, Apple introduced dual-cameras and Portrait mode and it remains among its USPs. Unlike most Android devices these days, the iPhone 8 Plus’ cameras don’t come with any Artificial Intelligence backed features. But that in no way compromises their quality.
The dual 12-megapixel cameras at the back are quite capable, and they manage to capture natural-looking photos in most lighting conditions. That is not to say they are the best, and you will no doubt find much better cameras on devices like the Google Pixel 2 and Huawei P20 Pro. But in my opinion, the iPhones still do Portrait shots better than anyone.
Apple may have moved on from the Touch ID sensor since the iPhone X, but it is still a very good security feature. The sensor consistently unlocks the device in the blink of an eye, and its accuracy is unparalleled. Those who have used an iPhone over the years will still find the button a natural way to navigate through iOS.
The iPhone 8 Plus’ glass design and build won’t instill confidence at first look. But it is surprisingly sturdy. During my time with it, the device took a couple of tumbles and survived with barely any scratches. Another huge plus point is the IP67 certification that makes the device resistant to water and dust. This feature is really handy when you are outdoors during Mumbai’s monsoons.
Watch: Apple iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR First Look
The most obvious negative aspect about the iPhone 8 Plus is its outdated design. With the iPhone X, Apple kicked off the trend of full-screen displays with little to no bezels. Since then, other companies have come out with different ways to make their smartphones bezel-less. While some have reduced the size of the notch to a waterdrop, others have opted for sliding mechanisms. In such a scenario, the iPhone 8 Plus’ legacy design looks and feels awfully dated.
Then there is the display itself. The 5.5-inch LCD display with full-HD resolution again feels dated when compared to the competition. Other flagship devices have long moved on to AMOLED or OLED displays with up to QHD resolution. The vast difference is easily noticeable when looking at photos or videos, and even during gaming.
Batteries on most flagship devices these days last for over a day, which is unfortunately not the case with the iPhone 8 Plus any more. The 2,691mAh battery under the hood just about survives the day, but you do need to charge it once before you go to sleep. The overall battery life also took a huge beating after a recent iOS update. Though things have improved after iOS 12 update, you still need the charger before going to sleep.
Should you buy it?
Now to answer the question on many people’s minds – should you buy the iPhone 8 Plus? Though there’s a lot that still works in the iPhone 8 Plus’ favor, I find it difficult to recommend someone spend their precious money on it. While the internals are able to match up to other premium devices available today, the same can’t be said about the other features. The design feels downright dated, and the LCD display too is a disappointment for such an expensive device. It also misses out on contemporary features like Face ID and gesture-based navigation.
Then there is the price tag. A quick search on the internet shows that you can get your hands on the iPhone 8 Plus for under Rs 70,000. But if you are ready to wait for a month, Apple’s new iPhone XR will be available in India with a starting price of Rs 76,900. It comes with most of the contemporary features, but does miss out on the dual-camera feature. If dual-cameras are important for you, then you can opt for last year’s iPhone X. It may have been officially discontinued, but this only means that its prices will keep sliding. At the time of filing this review, one can snap the device for under Rs 80,000 courtesy of various cashbacks available via e-commerce sites.