Home Home Tech iPhone 8 and 8 Plus – revolutions in their own right

iPhone 8 and 8 Plus – revolutions in their own right

Sure, much of the focus today will be on Apple’s new iPhone X, but the successors to the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are here, are more affordable, and are true revolutions in their own right – even if the iPhone X is even better!

Apple launched a stack of new products today – the iPhone X (pronounced iPhone Ten), the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, the LTE-capable Apple Watch Series 3, and the Apple TV 4K.

A wrap of the iPhone X is here, but what is new and exciting in the iPhone 8, available sooner and at more affordable pricing, with 64GB and 256GB models the new norms?

Well, the headline features are as follows: a new Glass and aluminium Design, Retina HD displays, the super fast A11 Bionic Chip, new single and dual cameras (iPhone 8 and 8 Plus respectively) with support for the very cool portrait lighting feature on the iPhone 8 Plus, finally the addition of wireless charging, and of course, optimised for augmented reality.

Fast charing for the first time – but you’ll need a separate charger

Another feature for iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X is the ability for a fast charge, getting up to 50% charge in 30 minutes, but to enable this feature, you’ll need Apple's 29W, 61W, or 87W USB-C Power Adapters, which are sold alongside its USB-C MacBook and MacBook Pro models, according to MacRumors

It means springing for a new charger, which won’t come cheap, but as time is money, it’s a price many will surely be happy to pay.

New design, new and better displays

As for the updated design, feature glass on the front and back, with an aluminium frame, it comes in comes in three colours - space grey, silver and a new shade of gold, are made out of what Apple says is “the most durable glass ever in a smartphone.”

The new Retina HD Displays, in the same 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch sizes respectively, finally get the addition of True Tone, first seen on iPads, which automatically “adjusts the white balance of the display to match the surrounding light for a more natural, paper-like viewing experience.”

For those seemingly incredulously asking “what is so new about the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X”, this single feature alone is something no other smartphone offers, and makes a dramatic difference to the comfort of your eyes looking at your phone screen all day – something we all do, and could benefit from if we had one of these new iPhone models.

On top of that, another massive benefit is “the vibrant wide colour gamut Retina HD display offers the best colour accuracy in the industry”, something Apple first pioneered with the 7 and 7 Plus.

New stereo speakers, louder volume, deeper bass

Need more? iPhone 7 and 7 Plus added stereo speakers that gave a welcome audio boost compared to the 6s and earlier models, and now Apple has done it again, redesigning its stereo speakers so you get “up to 25 per cent louder” volume, with the delivery of “deeper bass, enabling richer-sounding music, videos and speakerphone calls".

Again, another simple little feature, difficult to implement or competitors would be boasting about it, that makes a material difference to work and play with an iPhone 8 or 8 Plus.

Fastest smartphone CPU and GPU ever

Year after year, Apple’s A-series CPUs blitz SnapDragon, Huawei Kirin, Samsung Exynos and all other mobile processors. This year will be absolutely no different, with Apple naturally billing its A11 Bionic processor as “the smartest and most powerful chip ever in a smartphone".

It features a “six-core CPU design with two performance cores that are 25% faster and four efficiency cores that are 70% faster than the A10 Fusion, offering industry-leading performance and energy efficiency".

Better still, Apple’s new second-gen performance controller “can harness all six cores simultaneously, delivering up to 70% greater performance for multi-threaded workloads, giving customers more power while providing the same great battery life".

Competing ARM processors have just had their lunch handed to them again, and while it is certainly true that Android flagships will be fast, videos are undoubtedly coming soon to show how the A11 beats the latest ARM processors, there is no reason why this year should be any different in this regard, with Apple continuing its ARM processor leadership, coupled with tight software and hardware integration unmatched in the industry.

It’s not just CPU processing power that Apple boasts, with its A11 Bionic also integrating an “Apple-designed GPU with a three-core design that delivers up to 30% faster graphics performance than the previous generation".

This kind of power is crucial when you are the company that is powering incredible new machine learning, AR apps and immersive 3D games, and making them the norm for everyone, rather than the company that releases expensive models that no-one buys and waits for Apple to innovate, take the future, and widely distribute it.

Designed for AR

Speaking of AR, Apple says its cameras on the iPhone 8 Plus are “custom tuned for the ultimate AR experience".

Each camera is individually calibrated in the factory, with “new gyroscopes and accelerometers for accurate motion tracking".

The people who ask “what is so new and special and revolutionary about the new iPhones” need to read this article again and again until they get it, because they’ve got no excuse for not getting it.

The AR smarts continue, with the A11 Bionic CPU handling “world tracking and scene recognition”, while the GPU enables “incredible graphics at 60fps, as the image signal processor does real-time lighting estimation".

With ARKit, the company says “iOS developers can take advantage of the TrueDepth camera and the rear cameras to create games and apps offering fantastically immersive and fluid experiences that go far beyond the screen".

All-New camera for better photos and video

That brings us to the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus offering new camera technology.

Proudly boasting that “the world’s most popular camera gets even better”, Apple explains the iPhone 8 has an improved 12-megapixel camera installed “with a larger and faster sensor, a new colour filter and deeper pixels".

Apple has designed its own “image signal processor”, delivering “advanced pixel processing, wide colour capture, faster autofocus in low light and better HDR photos, while a new quad LED True Tone Flash with Slow Sync results in more uniformly lit backgrounds and foregrounds".

As Apple states, “all this adds up to outstanding photos with vibrant, realistic colours and more detail".

Still, the clueless ask, as they did in one of my other articles, “what is so revolutionary about the new iPhones?”

We are told that the new camera “also delivers the highest quality video capture ever in a smartphone with better video stabilisation, 4K video up to 60fps and 1080p slo-mo up to 240fps".

Top this off with an “Apple-designed video encoder”, and you get “real-time image and motion analysis for optimal quality video”, and with iOS 11, both iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus “support HEIF and HEVC for up to two times compression and storage for twice the photos and videos".

This brings the revolution of more videos and photos in the same space, but to the doubters and the haters, this obviously isn’t “revolutionary". For the rest of us, welcome to more efficient usage of space on your 64B or 256GB iPhone 8 or 8 Plus.

When it comes to the iPhone 8 Plus, it features “dual 12-megapixel cameras and introduces Portrait mode with Portrait Lighting, bringing dramatic studio lighting effects to iPhone, allowing customers to capture stunning portraits with a shallow depth-of-field effect in five different lighting styles".

Portrait Lighting is launching in beta at first, but already looks incredible in the demos shown at the keynote, with Apple stating it is “based on extensive research into the art and science of portraiture and core photographic lighting principles".

“It uses the dual cameras and the Apple-designed image signal processor to recognise the scene, create a depth map and separate the subject from the background. Machine learning is then used to create facial landmarks and add lighting over contours of the face, all happening in real time, giving customers even more power to express themselves through photography.”

Wireless charging for an eventual completely wireless future

There’s a reason why Apple went back to a glass back design, last seen with the iPhone 4 and 4s models. Apple explains that the glass back design “enables a world-class wireless charging solution”, using the “established Qi ecosystem, including two new wireless charging mats from Belkin and mophie, available from Apple online, and Apple Stores” and no doubt plenty of retail stores very, very soon.

Apple also gave a sneak peek of “AirPower”, “an Apple-designed wireless charging accessory coming in 2018, which offers a generous active charging area that will allow iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus or iPhone X customers to simultaneously charge up to three devices, including Apple Watch Series 3 and a new optional wireless charging case for AirPods".

It seems obvious that a future AirPower 2 or 3 will allow wireless charging in the same way Wi-fi allows you to surf the Internet without placing your device onto a Wi-Fi pad, an example of which I did a video interview on back in 2015.

Meanwhile, the new optional wireless charging case for AirPods just makes recharging your AirPods that much easier.

iOS 11 is preloaded, 'the world’s most advanced mobile operating system'.

As you’d expect, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus “come with iOS 11, featuring incredible advancements to Portrait mode, while new effects make Live Photos more fun and expressive".

As Apple states, “iOS 11 also brings augmented reality to hundreds of millions of iOS devices with a new platform for developers to build apps that let users place virtual content on top of real-world scenes. Siri® debuts new male and female voices and can translate US English phrases into Chinese, French, German, Italian or Spanish".

“iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are a new generation of iPhone that improve on everything we love about iPhone,” exclaimed Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice-president of Worldwide Marketing.

“iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus have new glass and aluminium designs, new Retina HD displays and A11 Bionic – the smartest chip ever in a smartphone. Packed with more advanced cameras with Portrait mode and Portrait Lighting, and the highest quality video capture in a smartphone, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus enable the freedom of wireless charging, all with AR optimisation like no phone ever before.”

Both devices can be ordered on 15 September in more than 25 countries and territories, naturally including Australia, and they’ll be available in stores beginning 22 September, but as with every other iPhone launch ever, there are sure to be delays in being able to order and receive the new iPhones, even if the iPhone X will surely prove X-tremely popular.

Pricing and availability

iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus will be available in space grey, silver and an all-new gold finish in increased 64GB and 256GB capacity models starting at $1079 for iPhone 8 and starting at $1229 for iPhone 8 Plus.

Ordering starts on 15 September, and availability (and presumed long waiting times for those not able to immediately secure one of the two new iPhones) starts 22 September in Australia and a stack of other countries, with a stack more counties coming online on 29 September.

Apple’s own leather and silicone cases in a range of colours will start from $55 with Lightning Docks in colour-matching metallic finishes to sell for $75 each.

Apple offers its iPhone 8 and 8 Plus customers “free Personal Setup, in-store or online, to help them customise their iPhone by setting up email, showing them new apps from the App Store® and more,” while Today at Apple classes “to start with the basics or go further with iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus or iOS 11 can sign up” free today here

Even with all of these new features, new processor, new cameras, new OS, new screens, new AR and so many other capabilities, look below (or at other articles with comment sections) where you will see the truly inane and insane question asked “so what’s so revolutionary about the new iPhones?”

You will know these people haven’t read the above, or think none of it matters. Hundreds of millions of upcoming new iPhone owners know better!

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.