The iPhone X is the phone everyone wants, but there’s no getting over one annoying fact: It’s expensive AF, starting at $999.
It’s the most advanced iPhone Apple’s ever created — and for once that’s not just keynote hyperbole — but not everyone can afford to blow their savings on it. So, what’s a person to do? Settle for the iPhone 8 or 8 Plus?
Basically, yes. But that’s not really as bad as it sounds because maybe you actually want things like, say, a home button!
So let’s keep it real: the iPhone 8’s industrial design already looks old compared to the iPhone X, but as I said in my hands-on with the phones, that’s just skin-deep. Looks aren’t everything, and there’s lots of things inside that make them worthwhile.
The iPhone X is Apple’s new aspirational device, but it’s not gonna be for everyone. And with supply constraints and a release not until Nov. 3, not everyone’s gonna be able to get one. So why wait when there’s plenty of great reasons to buy the iPhone 8 or 8 Plus instead?
1. If you like saving money
The most obvious reason to buy the iPhone 8 or 8 Plus is because you can’t afford the iPhone X. Your wallet can’t handle it, or maybe your spouse might go apeshit on you for blowing your monthly food budget. I don’t know… that’s your personal issue.
The iPhone 8 costs $699 and $849 for 64GB and 256GB, respectively. And the 8 Plus costs $799 and $949 for 64GB and 256GB. In comparison, the iPhone X costs $999 for 64GB and $1,149 for 256GB.
Do the math, and you’ll see there are savings. Too, lazy? OK, fine I’ll crunch it for you.
- iPhone 8: $300 saved for both models
- iPhone 8 Plus: $200 saved for both models
Oh, what? Only $200-300? Why not just save up the money for the X, then?
I’ll tell you: You’re already going to spend that money on all the stuff that’s not included.
Like AppleCare+ or a case to protect your pricey new device. Or a wireless charging pad or more powerful adapter and USB-C cable for quick charging. Or AirPods if you want to live that dongle-free life.
2. If you still want a home button
The future of the iPhone is buttonless, and you can either accept this reality now or be miserable later when Apple stops making iPhones with a home button on them (like when it stopped producing iPods with click wheels back in the day) because, like the headphone jack, it’s never coming back.
Either that, or get an Android that has a home button. But even those will become more and more rare as they also get bezel-less and edge-to-edge displays.
Keep in mind, though, that the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus have a Taptic Engine-powered fake button that vibrates when you press it. It’s not a mechanical one like on the iPhone 6S, but it does a good job fooling you that it is. It’s weird at first, but you get used to it.
3. If you prefer a fingerprint sensor
Who am I to judge if you prefer to unlock your phone or authenticate Apple Pay with your raisiny fingerprint instead of your beautiful face?
Maybe you’re worried about the accuracy of Face ID even though Apple says there’s only one chance in 1 million of someone unlocking your iPhone with a different face on iPhone X compared to one chance in 50,000 for Touch ID. Or maybe you just think Animojis are stupid.
Whatever your reason is, if you just want a fingerprint sensor, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus have it and the X doesn’t.
4. If you hate the “notch”
Apple says the iPhone X is “all screen.” Technically, that’s not true. It’s nearly all screen, but not quite. The “notch” at the top contains the TrueDepth camera system, which includes both the FaceTime camera and an IR sensor for facial recognition. It also disqualifies the phone as a true all-screen device.
Reactions have been mixed on the notch. Some people are fine with it and others hate it. Apple’s iOS guidelines ask developers to embrace the “horns” to the left and right of the notch when optimizing their apps for the iPhone X.
If you just can’t stand the sight of the notch — and it’s already looking kinda odd especially in landscape mode for some apps — you’ll be happy to know the 8 and 8 Plus don’t have a notch. They have thicker bezels above and below the display, but no cutout.
5. If you really care about reachability
Body-wise, the iPhone X isn’t much larger than the iPhone 8, which itself is about the same size as the the iPhone 7.
Smartphone growth has largely been driven by bigger screens, but if you like small phones and little displays, the 8’s one of the last of a dying breed of “small” phones.
Reachability is certainly a concern with the iPhone X — it’s impossible to reach the top corners of the display with one hand unless you have big hands — but it’s not an issue on the 8.
6. If you want wireless charging
The iPhone X has built-in wireless charging that supports a Qi-based charging pad. But you don’t need to buy it to go wireless.
In fact, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus have the same wireless charging, and also the same fast wireless charging that juices up the phones from 0-50 percent in 30 minutes. You’ll have to buy your own wireless charging pad, but hey, it’s the same if you buy a Samsung phone.
7. If you want better cameras
Anyone who tells you that your existing camera is “good enough” probably doesn’t understand cameras and takes shitty photos.
A better camera is always a better camera and you’ll notice it when you take photos that don’t look like pixelated mud. You’ll notice it when your photos are perfectly sharp. You’ll notice when you’re in a bar and your shot actually exposes correctly. And you’ll notice it when your videos aren’t super shaky.
Few people would say, “Ehh, I’m good with my crappy old, lower megapixel-count camera that struggles to capture moments.”
Both the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus come with improved 12-megapixel cameras that capture better photos and videos. Period. Better stills. Better HDR. And on the 8 Plus, you get the iPhone X’s same Portrait Lighting mode, which simulates different studio lighting conditions, and better, more refined background blur in Portrait mode.
8. If you want the performance of the X
Perhaps, the best thing about the 8 and 8 Plus is that they share the same powerful A11 Bionic chip as the iPhone X.
Graphic-intensive 3D games and tasks such as video editing will all feel just as fast and snappy on the 8 and 8 Plus as on the X, and you won’t have to pay hundreds more just to get it.
Who should buy the 8 or 8 Plus instead of the X?
If you own an iPhone 7, it’s hard to recommend the 8 or 8 Plus. But if you’re on a 6S or older, it’s a good value if you can’t or don’t want to spring for the X for the various reasons outlined above.
Moving up from any iPhone from the 6S or older not only gets you the latest and greatest Apple chip and performance and the best cameras (dual cameras and Portrait mode if you get the 8 Plus), but also wireless charging and IP67 water and dust-resistance introduced on the 7 and 7 Plus.
In addition, you also get the battery better life Apple debuted on the 7. And let’s be real, if you’ve got an older iPhone, its battery is probably on its last legs and barely holding a charge. It’s time for a new iPhone with a fresh battery.
Some people are going to tell you the 8 and 8 Plus already look old and everyone will know it. But if you can get over that, you’ll find a phone that’s just as fast, and in some ways maybe even better than the X.