It’s that time of year again, folks, but this time things are a little more complicated. Apple turned heads at the annual iPhone lovefest by introducing not just one, not two, but three new iPhones—one of which is a pricey monster. If you’re thinking about buying an iPhone 8 or placing an order for an iPhone X (available Nov. 3) are the new features and the bigger price tag worth it — especially if you already have last yea’rs iPhone 7.

Design The Same on 7 & 8

Looking face on at the iPhone 8 and iPhone 7 shows two smartphones which are almost indistinguishable. The large top and bottom bezels remain, the display appears unchanged and the iPhone 7 even has more color options (silver, grey, gold, rose gold and jet black Vs silver, gray and gold).The iPhone 8 is fractionally larger and weights about a half ounce more, because of its most controversial change: the back of the iPhone 8 is glass not aluminum.

Apple has done this to add wireless charging (more in the Battery Life section) but the cost is a heavier phone (glass needs to be thicker for the same protection as aluminum) and a back which can crack.

The iPhone 8 is fractionally larger than the iPhone 7 and over 7% heavier. Why? Because of its most controversial change: the back of the iPhone 8 is glass not aluminum. Less controversially, the iPhone 8 retains its Touch ID fingerprint scanner in the home button (which the iPhone X drops in favor of Face ID facial recognition) and – glass aside – it remains a durable phone matching (but not improving upon) the iPhone 7’s IP67 water and dust resistance.

Where Apple has improved the iPhone 8 is a 25% boost in volume compared to the iPhone 7’s stereo speakers, though there is no return for the headphone jack with Apple retaining only the Lightning port as the sole port on the phone.

Displays – Old Dog, New Tricks

While there’s debatably no tangible improvement to the iPhone 8’s design over the iPhone 7, Apple has made advances with its display – despite it looking identical on paper. Apple has given the iPhone 8 ‘True Tone’ technology from the iPad Pro range which reacts to environmental light and ensures a correct color balance at all times. In short: you do not buy the iPhone 8 for its design or its display.

Performance – Faster and Smarter

What you would buy the iPhone 8 for, however, is its performance. According to most benchmarks, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus remains the fastest smartphones in the world but that was before the iPhone 8 came along:

The iPhone 8 is getting essentially the same performance as the more expensive iPhone 8 Plus and 40% more expensive iPhone X (Apple A11 ‘Bionic’ chipset) The difference is less RAM, 3GB RAM (iPhone X, iPhone 8 Plus), 2GB RAM (iPhone 8)

And how much faster is the iPhone 8 than the iPhone 7? Apple claims its A11 chipset is 25% faster at top speed and up to 70% faster when idling. Graphics performance is also 30% faster and multitasking is up 70%, a crucial improvement given users are continually hopping between apps.

Cameras – Brains Not Brawn

iPhone 8 is now the only new iPhone not to have a dual rear camera. On the front, the iPhone 8 has a 12 megapixel wide-angle camera with f/1.8 aperture and optical image stabilization plus a 7 megapixel, f/2.2 camera on the front – both identical to the iPhone 7. It also highlights the iPhone 8 as the only new iPhone not to get dual rear cameras.

The iPhone 8 Plus has two rear cameras – one wide angle and one telephoto.

Apple promises major photographic and video improvements from the iPhone 8 due to its integrated and Apple-designed Image Signal Processor (ISP). This promises to bring better pixel processing, faster low-light auto focus and noise reduction. The latter two were an Achilles Heel of the iPhone 7.

And if this sounds too good to be true, it isn’t. Last year Google took the camera crown with the Pixel and Pixel XL which both have inferior camera optics to most of their rivals, but they won out through class leading image processing. So if Apple can replicate the brains Google demonstrated with superior hardware then we could have a new class leader on our hands.

Battery Life And Charging – Not Longer, But Faster And Wireless

When it comes to battery life there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is even Apple admits on its comparison page the iPhone 8 only “Lasts about the same as iPhone 7” which in turn was barely better than the iPhone 6S or iPhone 6, even though losing the headphone jack was reportedly meant to free up space for a bigger battery?

The good news is when your iPhone 8 does run out of juice, it will charge more quickly as Apple has finally added wired quick charging and followed this up with Qi-compatible wireless charging.

But then comes more bad news. The iPhone 8’s wireless charging only operates at 7.5W which is much less than the 15W peak Qi charging rivals like the Galaxy S8 use.

Furthermore Apple has not bundled a fast wired charger with any of its new iPhones (not even the $1,149 256GB iPhone X) and compliant fast Apple chargers start at $49. In turn these chargers use a different (Lightning to USB-C) cable which isn’t bundled with the fast charger and costs $25 to $35 depending on the cord length.

So you’re looking at $75 for every location you want to fast charge your

iPhone 8. This is tough to swallow, considering every single Android flagship (and most midrange and even budget models) come with fast charging out the box.

iPhone 8 Plus

Similar to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, the most obvious difference between the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8Plus is size. The 8Plus is slightly larger and has a larger battery, which gives it longer battery life. Talk time on an 8 is about 14 hours versus 21 hours on an 8 Plus, and audio playback for the 8 is rated at 40 hours versus 60 hours on the 8 Plus.

Another difference in the two 8 models is that the 8 Plus comes with two rear cameras and as with the 7 and 7Plus, the battery life is less on the 8 versus the 8 Plus.

iPhone X

Who knows why Apple decided to release one new iPhone in September and another in November, but it happened. If you’re willing to wait until Nov. 3, here’s what you’ll get.

Aside from the hip factor of the anniversary phone, the iPhone X offers the biggest screen of all the new iPhones, new facial recognition features, and an even better camera. It’s more expensive, and you’ll have to wait longer. However, if you’re looking for the biggest upgrade from your current iPhone, the iPhone X is it.

As we pointed out earlier, the iPhone 8s have the same processor as the iPhone X, no advantage there. The biggest change is the new edge-to-edge design. The screen takes up the entire surface area of the phone, the home button has been completely eliminated and with it, the Touch ID fingerprint sensor. Instead, the iPhone X is unlocked with facial recognition, which Apple is dubbing ‘Face ID’.

The display resolution is reportedly better on the X than on the 8. As with the iPhone 8, the display features TrueTone and HDR technology.

The iPhone X uses machine learning to recognize your face, and Apple claims that it will work even in the dark. If you were hoping to share an iPhone X between family members or colleagues, it seems only one person will be able to unlock it using FaceID, which could certainly cause a family/employment rift.

Apple’s previous security feature, TouchID, supported a number of fingerprints, allowing the user to scan up to five digits to unlock the device.

One finally difference between the 8s and X, is in the camera. While the 8 doesn’t have two rear cameras, the 8 Plus and the X do, but the X’s rear camera is slightly improved over the 8 Plus’, not sure if it’s enough to be noticed by the average consumer.

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