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iPhone 8 versus iPhone X

Apple announced three new iPhones at its special event on 12 September 2017, the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and the flag-ship iPhone X (pronounced iPhone Ten). If you are thinking about upgrading your phone, you are likely to be wondering which model will suit you best. Here we’ll look at the two phones that are most appropriate if you are not keen on the idea of a large handset.

The iPhone 8 and the iPhone X may appeal more than the larger iPhone 8 Plus for a number of reasons. Maybe you have small hands, or perhaps you would prefer a lighter phone that slipped neatly into your pocket, in that case these two iPhone models are smaller and lighter than the iPhone Plus models.

Alternatively, you may be excited by the new features of the iPhone X but wondering whether you really need to pay around £1,000, or if the iPhone 8 will give you the features you want the most.

You can read our previews of the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X here.

Size

As we said above, the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X are both smaller than the iPhone 8 Plus (and other Plus models).

Here’s how the dimensions of the iPhone X and iPhone 8 compare:

  • The iPhone X measures 143.6mm by 70.9mm, and is 7.7m thick.
  • The iPhone 8 is 138.4mm by 67.3mm and is 7.3mm thick.

So, as you can see, the iPhone 8 is smaller and thinner, but only slightly. That’s difference of half a centimetre in height and even less than that in width. And as for that half a millimetre difference in depth, we don’t think it will really be noticeable.

So if your choice was going to be based on the size and shape of the iPhone then there is very little difference here.

When it comes to weight, the difference is greater, however.

  • The iPhone X weighs 174 grams.
  • The iPhone 8 weighs 148 grams.

So here the iPhone 8 wins – with a difference of 26 grams. Apparently a teaspoon of sugar is roughly equivalent to 4 grams, so that’s about 6-7 spoonfuls of sugar, enough for a very sweet cup of tea, but we doubt that it will weigh you down all that much.

So, if it’s a small iPhone you are looking for then there is not really a significant difference here. It’s certainly not worth disqualifying the iPhone X over a few millimetres in size, and with just 26 grams between them, the iPhone X is hardly going to feel hefty in comparison to the fractionally lighter iPhone 8.

If you really want a small iPhone then the iPhone SE is probably the one to consider. That iPhone measures 123.8mm by 58.6, is 7.6mm thick and weighs 113 grams. We’d recommend that you hold off buying one of them though as we expect Apple to update it next year, read: iPhone SE 2 release date.

Screen size

The iPhone X and iPhone 8 may be almost identical when it comes to size and weight but there is one very big difference: the size of the screen.

  • The iPhone X has a 5.8-inch Super Retina HD display.
  • The iPhone 8 has a 4.7-inch Retina HD display.

The iPhone X definitely has the bigger screen, however, it’s not necessarily as big as the diagonal measurement we quote above suggests.

One of the criticisms of the iPhone X is the fact that there is a notch taken out of the top of the screen. If we were being really pedantic, we’d re-measure the screen of the iPhone X from the base of that notch, because while there is some screen visible on either side of the notch, it’s not really going to be usable. We don’t have the exact measurements of the notch, but we think it would probably reduce the diagonal measurement from 5.7-inch to something similar to the iPhone Plus’ 5.5-inch. When we get our hands on one we’ll let you know.

In addition to this, when used in portrait orientation, the width of the display on iPhone X matches the width of the 4.7in display of the iPhone 8. So it’s taller, but not wider. In other words, the iPhone X has a different aspect ratio to the iPhone 8. The iPhone x aspect ratio is something like 19:9 where the iPhone 8 is 16:9.

Developers have even gone as far as to suggest that because of the iPhone X’s swipe gesture indicator, the display actually has less vertical space than the display on the iPhone 8 when used in landscape mode.

Based on these measurements, it is plausible that despite the screen on the iPhone X being bigger than the iPhone 8, the difference isn’t going to be that noticeable in use. Until we can try the iPhone X out for ourselves we can’t confirm this though.

For that reason, we will hold off on our conclusion in this section other than to say, if you want a bigger screen, the iPhone X does have a bigger screen than the iPhone 8, but it appears that the difference is only in height, and part of that will be obscured by that annoying notch.

Screen quality

There is one other thing to say about the display on the iPhone X – it’s an OLED screen that Apple is calling a Super Retina display. 

  • The iPhone X display has a TrueTone, 2436×1125-pixel resolution at 458 ppi, with 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio.
  • The iPhone 8 display offers a Retina Display 1334×750-pixel resolution at 326 ppi, and a 1400:1 contrast ratio.

The stats suggest that the quality of the iPhone X will be far superior to that of the iPhone 8, but until we are able to see the two side by side we won’t be able to comment on how significant that is.

Incidentally, when Apple first started selling Retina Displays it explained that it had chosen the name Retina because that was the number of pixels that the eye could see. So based on Apple’s own marketing, you might not be able to perceive more pixels per inch.

Camera

Both phones have a 12MP camera on the back but there are some key differences.

The iPhone X, like the iPhone 8 Plus, actually has two cameras on the back. That’s a ƒ/1.8 aperture wide-angle and ƒ/2.4 aperture telephoto camera, which combine to create the stunning portrait shots with the blurred background that those phones can take. The iPhone X (and Plus) has an optical zoom and can digital zoom up to 10x.

The iPhone 8 camera is also 12MP, but it is just the one camera with a ƒ/1.8 aperture, so it can’t take the fancy portrait shots, and it’s digital zoom goes to 5x.

We love the portrait shots we take with our iPhone 7 Plus so we’d recommend getting a phone with that capability. That said, it’s not an essential feature. You can still take amazing photos without having that mode switched on. If you take a lot of shots of people and would like to create the bokeh effect then we think you’d love this feature of the iPhone X. If you don’t know what the bokeh effect is we’d probably suggest you don’t really need it.

Tuning to the camera on the front of the iPhones. The selfie/FaceTime camera on the front of the iPhone X is different to that found on the iPhone 8.

On the iPhone 8 you will find a 7MP FaceTime HD camera with Retina Flash (the same as on the iPhone Plus) but on the iPhone X there is a 7MP TrueDepth front camera with Portrait mode and Portrait Lighting.

This TrueDepth camera is what makes Face ID possible – as we will explain below.

In terms of taking photos, the TrueDepth camera on the front of the iPhone X can take what Apple is calling Portrait Mode Selfies. In other words, the front facing camera can take photos with a sharp foreground and an artfully blurred background to create the same bokeh effect that the two cameras on the back of the iPhone X can achieve.

When it comes to the cameras the iPhone X is a clear winner. However, the camera in the iPhone 8 is still great, so, if you aren’t bothered by the addition of the Portrait Mode, and you don’t feel the need to take even better selfies, the iPhone 8 is more than adequate.

The missing Home Button

There is one huge difference between the iPhone X and the iPhone 8 and it may be the thing that turns you off the iPhone X altogether.

The trade off for getting the bigger screen on the iPhone 8 is the demise of the Home Button. Yes, the trademark Home Button, which was perhaps as part of a design of the iPhone as the click wheel was on the iPod, has gone.

The removal of the Home Button means that Apple needed to make some changes to the iPhone interface. So if you were to buy an iPhone X you would have to learn a new way to navigate the interface. You may adapt to this quickly, or you may find yourself frustrated. It depends on how willing you are to embrace change, and how intuitive the new way of interfacing with the iPhone is. This is another thing we will have so suspend judgement on until we get a chance to play with it ourselves.

There is another change as a result of the missing Home Button. Touch ID, Apple’s fingerprint recognition system for securing your phone so that only you could open it, and allowing you to pay for things using Apple Pay, has been replaced with Face ID.

Face ID v Touch ID

We feel a bit sad about the loss of Touch ID. We liked the simplicity of being able to unlock our phone just by touching the Home Button, and we enjoyed being able to use our iPhone to pay for things in shops. With Face ID you will unlock your phone by looking at it.

There is a lot of concern buzzing around the web about how reliable Face ID will be, how secure it will be, and how it will be implemented.

Apple’s demo on stage during the keynote did little to convince people of its reliability – with it appearing to fail (although Apple is now saying it wasn’t correctly set up rather than it failed to recognise the presenter).

In terms of whether anyone could hack into your phone using Face ID, Apple says that Face ID is more secure than Touch ID (as long as you don’t have an identical twin intent on reading your iMessages).

With the iPhone X not launching until November it will be a while before anyone gets to see how Face ID Will work in practice.

When we get to use Face ID we may be blown away by it. But for now we would say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with Touch ID on the iPhone 8 – and we’d be inclined to say to Apple: “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”

Specs

Those are the main differences that will probably make the biggest difference to you. But there are a few more differences between the iPhone 8 and iPhone X in terms of specs.

There are also a few things that are identical as we will outline below.

Colour choices

  • iPhone X: Space Grey / Silver
  • iPhone 8: Gold / Silver / Space Grey

Capacity

  • iPhone X: 64GB / 256GB
  • iPhone 8: 64GB / 256GB

Water resistance

  • iPhone X: Rated IP67 under IEC standard 60529
  • iPhone 8: Rated IP67 under IEC standard 60529 (SAME)

Processor chip

  • iPhone X: A11 Bionic chip with 64-bit architecture, M11 motion coprocessor
  • iPhone 8: A11 Bionic chip with 64-bit architecture, M11 motion coprocessor (SAME)

Battery life

  • iPhone X: Lasts up to 2 hours longer than iPhone 7
  • iPhone 8: Lasts about the same as iPhone 7

Wireless charging

  • iPhone X Wireless charging (works with Qi chargers)
  • iPhone 8 Wireless charging (works with Qi chargers) (SAME)

We’ve skipped over wireless charging which is a new feature for the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and iPhone X. We aren’t convinced about how important a feature it is, but if it is something you are attracted to, it’s worth emphasising that the feature is available on both the iPhone 8 and iPhone X so it’s not a reason to choose one phone over the other.

Price

The iPhone 8 is available to preorder now here and costs £699 for the 64GB version and £849 for the 256GB version.

When it launches the iPhone X will cost £999 for the 64GB version and £1,149 for the 256GB version. Read about how to pre-order an iPhone X here.

That’s a £300 premium on the iPhone X when compared to the iPhone 8 and we have to admit we aren’t convinced that it is worth that mark up.


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