As summer turns to autumn, the leaves turn brown and the new iPhone is announced. At How-To Geek, we don’t get outside much, so we’re obviously more interested in the new iPhones than whatever trees are doing. Apple introduces the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and the iPhone X. We’re not going to address the profoundly weird start to the keynote, so the big question is: should you upgrade?
The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are, new design and wireless charging aside, pretty iterative updates to the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. The iPhone 8 has a 4.7 inch display and the iPhone 8 Plus has a 5.5 inch display. Both have a faster A11 Bionic (yes, really) chip, Retina True Tone screens, and improved 12 MP camera sensors. The Plus keeps its two-camera setup and, with the new Portrait Lighting mode, looks pretty interesting for photographers.
The new design is the main talking point. With steel reinforced glass for the back and front, and aluminium for the sides, it should feel a lot like the iPhone 4 in your hand.
Wireless charging is also an interesting upgrade. Apple has gone with the open Qi standard, so the new phones will work with other companies’ wireless chargers.
Apple is also pushing pretty hard with augmented reality, and demoed a load of new features. While the 8 will almost certainly run them more smoothly, those features also should be available on older iPhones.
The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus will have a capacity of either 64GB or 256GB and start at $699.
As expected, Apple has announced a new high end iPhone with a 5.8 inch Super Retina, HDR, True Tone OLED edge-to-edge display. It’s got a glass front and back, and the sides are made of stainless steel. The Home button—and with it, Touch ID—is gone. Instead, you just swipe up from the bottom to access the Home screen.
The display sounds like it’s going to be a thing of beauty. It’s got a resolution of 2436×1125 pixels and, combined with all its other features, should be one of the best looking smartphone displays ever.
With Touch ID gone, you unlock the iPhone X just by looking at it and swiping the screen up. Apple calls it Face ID. They claim it’s even more secure than Touch ID and works at all times regardless of the time of day or what you’re wearing. They claim it won’t be fooled by pictures, and can adjust to different hairstyles, glasses, and so on. FaceID did fail live on stage at the event, but it was unclear whether it actually failed or the phone just needed to be activated again with a PIN after a restart.
They also introduced a fun, new feature in Messages to go along with the new facial tracking features—Animojis. These are animated emojis that you control with your facial expressions.
The iPhone X has a capacity of 64GB to 256GB, and starts at $999. It’s not cheap, but if money is no object this is the most powerful iPhone you can buy.
Whether you should upgrade depends on which phone you currently have. Here’s what we think:
The iPhone 8 is a nice, but mostly iterative, update to the iPhone 7. It’s got a sweet new design and a faster processor, but for the most part, your user experience will be much the same. If you’ve got a contract that lets you upgrade yearly, it might be worth it to you. But for the majority of people, it’s probably not worth upgrading. If you want the latest and greatest, get the iPhone X.
If you have an iPhone 6S, you’ve got the hardest call to make. Right now, your phone is still one of the best in the world, but you’re likely to start to seeing battery life problems and everything slow down over the next year. The iPhone 8 is a compelling upgrade from the 6s, especially if you’re already thinking about a new phone.
At this point, your iPhone is getting pretty long in the teeth. While iOS 11 is coming to the iPhone 5S, iPhone SE, and iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, it’s going to run more slowly than it does on newer devices. App developers are going to start taking advantage of the newer iPhones’ extra power, and your older phone will feel even slower.
While your older iPhone won’t be unusable, you won’t get the snappy iOS performance you’re used to. If you’ve got an on-contract upgrade available, the iPhone 8 is worth the price. If you want to buy it outright, you face a tougher choice, but it’s still worth considering.
The iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus are the second best iPhones ever. If you’ve been considering moving to iOS, there won’t be a better time for another year. Not only do you have the option to buy a brand new iPhone 8, but, since a lot of people will be selling old iPhone to upgrade, you can pick up a second hand (but still great) iPhone 7 at a good discount. If you haven’t been considering the move to iOS, then the iPhone 8 probably won’t change your mind.
Look, the iPhone X is new, shiny, awesome, and ludicrously expensive. This is not the phone that anyone needs to have, but it is one that many will want to have. If you can afford the $1000 asking price, then go right ahead; you know what you’re doing. If $1000 is going to be better off spent elsewhere, then you’re probably better off spending it elsewhere. I know a few of us are going to buy an iPhone X, but we wouldn’t judge anyone for not making the same decision.