iPhone 8 Plus analysis

This has been the most curious generation in the iPhone’s ten-year history. The iPhone 5 began the well-known renewal cycles of the range, which from that moment on await every beginning of September. This gives rise to interesting moments in the previous months: the rumorology gets underway and the imagination designs what the next model will look like – sometimes based on the inevitable leaks of the assembly line. And we see the first renderings of certain artists looking to anticipate what everyone is waiting for: to know the next iPhone.

But that year there wasn’t just a «next iPhone.» Suddenly the rumors spoke of a typical model – the one everyone expected as «s» – and another model completely removed from the trajectory and usual design of Apple’s smartphone. On the internal characteristics, little anticipated: obviously we all understood a natural evolution of Apple chips, improvements in the camera… It’s a new iPhone, a new generation in an exciting year for the brand and for the range.

This new iPhone 8 Plus is full of surprises: although the obvious question when we see it from its front family is «What’s changed?«. In this article we will talk about all those changes, interiors, exteriors… though perhaps the most important – the one that even defines one’s own concept – is the real big change of this generation. A generation that promises to change back what we all expect from a mobile phone for years to come.

-This new iPhone 8 is full of surprises, beyond the well-known design of the latest models-

The new glass design

When Tim Cook introduced it to us live at the last keynote on September 12, the look was tremendously familiar to us – at least in the first images we saw on that superscreen of the Steve Jobs Auditorium. At the back, a new glass design gives a more sober look to the new phone, however the front was the one we already knew from the previous generation. However, just when we finished the keynote and we could hold the phone in hand, you notice the difference.

In hand, the glass back is comfortable and provides an extra degree of support that will please those who complained that the aluminum was slipping on their hands. Apple promises us a new super-strong glass for that area, «the toughest glass ever used in a smartphone,» which I’ve accidentally tried this time on purpose: I fell to the ground from a table. Without any holster. And the truth is, there’s not a single malfunction in the phone – it’s intact. Obviously this depends a lot on how the phone drops, but for now the expectations met them (the photos you see in this article are taken after the «event»).

-The glass wraps around the entire design, making it more elegant in hand even if the front is so familiar to us-

The rear is available in three colours for this generation: gold, silver and space grey. The color «gold» is this year more «pink» – or as I see it – than gold, and live is very elegant and sober. The touch of the back glass also helps that feel of a new model that evolves to some extent the design we have since the iPhone 6 Plus output a few years ago. It is completed with aluminum edges of the same color as the design and a front that we can find in the usual black or white, which despite what may seem, is also covered by the same resistant glass.

A small improvement also in the design of this generation is the greatest loudness of the speakers, especially when it comes to playing music or having conference calls. The rest of the aspects are maintained compared to the previous generation, such as the water resistance – splashing – which is identical to the one we already had on the iPhone 7. It should be remembered that although we can submerge it up to a meter according to specifications, Apple does not recommend it – in fact, it is not covered by the warranty – because it is not a device designed for dives, even if it can save your mobile if it accidentally dives.

-The iPhone 8 is waterproof, but Apple doesn’t advise submerging it – theoretically we could do it up to 1m-

A differential change: the Retina display with True Tone

One of the most important changes of this new generation of iPhone, is the new screen. It keeps the Retina display as always, with the same resolution and density, but improves its display by incorporating True Tone.

The reality is that it is arguably the most striking novelty at first glance of the iPhone 8: a screen with vibrant colors that improve using a wider color space, and a balance between the white balance of the screen and the lighting of the place where we are. The entire set makes the screen display colors in more depth, brighter, and defined. The added advantage of the True Tone display makes the interfaces with more contrast more vivid and also adapt to the environment where we are at the moment.

-The new display with True Tone has more contrast and noticeably brighter colors: the big visual difference of this generation-

There is some confusion around the differences between Night Shift and True Tone: although in both cases the goal is to reduce visual fatigue by dimming the screen to warmer colors, in the first the change is triggered by a time-programmed parameter. In True Tone, it is the operating system that controls the tones of the screen, activated by sensors that capture the ambient brightness and balance the white balance of the interface with it. The truth is that the result in the day to day surprises, especially when we read more and more about the screen: with this iPhone 8 Plus I have felt comfortable reading for example books on trips without noticing tiredness or heaviness in the view.

The photographs are another benefit of this new improved screen: the improvements in the cameras that we will talk about later are notably reflected in the results that we see directly on the screen of the phone itself. The greatest color amplitude is most noticeable in images with different chromatic tones, or areas of shadow and light – also benefited by the automatic taking of photos in HDR. In short, a complete success and a fantastic evolution of a screen that inherits more than worthily the tradition of the previous generations.

-Automatic HDR shooting enhanced by new sensors makes images spectacular on the new screen-

The new cameras that sell phones, better

Without a doubt one of the great hits – and perhaps of the most unexpected ones – was the Portrait Mode of the previous iPhone 7 Plus. This was made possible by the combination, for the first time on an iPhone, of a wide-angle camera and another telephoto lens with which a focus could be emulated in the foreground with blurred background, simulating the effect of high-end cameras. The mix of the technology of both cameras together with the operating system that controlled the whole set, gave spectacular results. For many, the first reason to purchase a phone that a priori was a continuous model compared to the iPhone 6 Plus – but that was much more, making the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus the best-selling phones in the world during the first two quarters of 2017.

That’s why a major improvement was also expected in this year’s generation models, even some added surprise, such as the iPhone 8 having optical stabilization for the first time – without being a «Plus» model. On the iPhone 8 Plus we have a wide-angle camera with a six-element lens of 1.8, also with optical stabilization (software-enhanced as well) and a new 12Mpx sensor that is larger and better managed by the CPU than in the previous generation – especially when it comes to calibrating the image in digital processing and enhancing low-light areas and contrasting them with HDR with the clearest areas.

-The cameras not only improve on hardware, the A11 chip powers them through the neural engine – taking the «mobile photography» any further-

The second camera of the iPhone 8 Plus is a telephoto camera of 2.8, combined with the first make possible optical zoom of up to 10x (6x for videos), of which I have not noticed major changes compared to last year’s iPhone. Special mention for the digital image processor designed by Apple for this phone, which detects «smart» movement, lighting, people and objects, for example creating depth maps or enhancing areas with better definition – one of the improvements this year is the higher focus speed, which greatly helps to get fantastic photos with the «point and photograph«. Quickly, just as you take the phone out of your pocket.

The new Portrait Mode and Smart Lighting

Special mention of this year’s new Portrait Mode, something that Apple is knowing to evolve and make the most of: in the new iPhone 8 Plus this mode improves with greater definition, especially in photos with low brightness (helped by the new sensor), something that caused losing quality on certain occasions when taken with the iPhone 7 Plus. Fast focus and higher quality in this mode as if it’s a breakthrough, but iOS 11 didn’t bring another surprise: Portrait Lighting modes.

Let’s look at what is done to make a «study» photo quality: among many factors, one of the basics is lighting. Apple in this generation pulls out a new processor called A11 Bionic, which uses a neural engine to – for example – create density maps in a capture, recognizing objects, people and shapes. If we separate a layered image, and we can measure the depth relative to the target, we can vary the illumination by element, as if it were a computer-designed image.

With that we now have five modes: natural light (the original Portrait Mode), studio light (better illuminates the darker areas of the foreground), contour light (contrasts it more), stage light (removes the background and only leaves the subject in the foreground) and mono stage light (same as the previous one, but in black and white). Combining these new modes, and the editing possibilities of iOS 11 (or any other more complete app) you can get really amazing photos that take mobile photography a little further. But not all the credit is from the camera, or the new sensor: let’s talk now about the real star of this new generation of iPhone…

The future of iPhones now begins with the A11 Bionic chip

In recent years, since the manufacture of the first CPUs manufactured by Apple, we have seen how these chips took on more prominence within iOS devices: the former focused on power, then improved in efficiency… what should be the next logical step? Without a doubt, artificial intelligence, so fashionable in recent times thanks to the improvement in process speeds. For this reason, Apple offers us in these new iPhone 8 (normal and the Plus) exactly the same processor: the new A11 Bionic chip, a six-core CPU, four of them designed to maximize efficiency and according to Apple, 70% faster than the A10 Fusion chip. Tests with Geekbench 4 (version 4.1.2) are devastating in terms of numbers: