It is, however, one of the best phones for college students.
For someone like myself, a tech nerd with a fascination for the newest, sleekest products around, coming home to a pile of Amazon boxes sitting at my front door was exciting. For the past year, I had been waiting for this, reading every rumor and dreaming about this phone. This phone.
Apple unveiled both the iPhone 8 and the upcoming iPhone X at its recent press event. I knew I had to get my hands on the X (pronounced “ten”). Sadly, the reality of being a college student sank in as Apple announced the pricing. iPhone X: starting at $999. Wow. iPhone 8: starting at $699. Still, wow. The X was projected to sell out immediately upon release, so I opted to preorder the 8.
Beautiful software, but lackluster design.
The iPhone 8 comes in three colors: Silver, Space Gray and a new Gold (which is more of a sandy tan than a true gold). The new Gold replaced the traditional Gold and popular Rose Gold, causing disappointment among consumers. The 8 has the same basic design that has been standard since 2014’s iPhone 6.
The iPhone 8 is beautiful, and the Gold is stunning. The price point is comparable to the Samsung Galaxy S8, which was also released this year. But when it comes to design, the S8 is superior. The iPhone 8 looks like a phone from 2014.
Despite disappointment with the iPhone 8’s hardware, improvements to the software, camera, and charging system, plus a brand-new feature called ARKit, put the phone in a class of its own.
The new operating system, iOS 11, improves on many of the iPhone’s already good features. The control center gets a complete overhaul, adding many functionalities that are accessible just from swiping up from the bottom of the phone. The App Store and iMessage have a cleaner design, making them easier to navigate when compared to previous versions of the platform.
Apple continues to refine its software to ensure that when you pick up an iPhone, it just works. In my first few days with this phone, I encountered very few bugs or issues. For a brand-new phone, that’s almost unheard of. There were some battery problems, and YouTube had been hard-crashing, but an update from Apple fixed the battery issues, and Google released a patch for the YouTube app for iOS last week. The iOS 11 operating system will be available on older iPhones going back to the iPhone 6, which means if you don’t want to buy a new phone, you’ll still be able to receive Apple’s latest software.
The iPhone 8’s camera is slightly upgraded from the previous versions, but it is worth mentioning. The rear lens has an entirely new 12-megapixel sensor that is larger than the one in the iPhone 7. Apple claims the 8 has “deeper pixels and a new color filter,” which causes photos to have more saturation and less noise in low light. Apple uses an all-new image signal processor to make the rear sensor more efficient and deliver faster autofocusing. The photos are still more realistic than phones from Samsung, Google and others. If you’re coming from an iPhone 7, however, it isn’t much different.
The wireless charging is great. Apple uses the Qi wireless charging standard, which is very common in Android phones, and that’s a plus. You can find a nice wireless charger for around $30, and using it is simple. Sit the phone on the charging pad, and it charges. Of course, this feature isn’t new to the world of smartphones, but it is for Apple. Apple also has plans to release a wireless charger of its own in 2018, but pricing for that has not been disclosed.
ARKit is most likely the coolest new feature of the iPhone 8. This process uses augmented reality software to provide a very entertaining gaming and cultural experience. Apple previewed an app from Major League Baseball, where if you were attending a game, you could point the iPhone 8 toward the field, and it would show you who was on the field and those players’ stats. If you’ve played Pokemon GO or used Snapchat, you’ve used augmented reality. Apple is trying to take that technology a step further with ARKit.
Coming from the phone that I had previously (a 2016 iPhone SE), I’m not disappointed. The upgrades to the new iPhone are a huge selling point, but after the excitement of the wireless charging wears off, it’s clear that the phone is just that: an iPhone. It’s not a piece of hardware and software that’s going to captivate users, and it’s clear that this phone is an afterthought. All of Apple’s passion is in the X.
The iPhone 8 is a Camry, a Coke: the thing people buy because it just works. It’s not going to wow or provoke a change in our culture like the first iPhone did, but for those who’ve had their phones for a couple of years, this is the phone to get.
We are at an interesting point in technology because the iPhone is now a close-to-perfect balance of software and hardware. However, it’s slowly becoming a utility. It’s not revolutionary, and that’s OK.