Once again, Apple has split the iPhone family into separate tiers differentiated by price and features. The iPhone X is the latest and sole member of a new super premium line thanks in large part to its advanced edge-to-edge OLED display.
But beyond the screen, many of the iPhone X’s upgrades can also be found in the newly announced iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, for a savings of $200 or $300.
So, which new iPhone model should you buy? We’ve compiled the comparative breakdown below to help guide your purchasing decisions. We’ve also included a full list of features shared by both devices for easy reference too.
How are the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X Different?
Screen Size and Technology Differences
iPhone 8: 4.7-inch Retina HD display with True Tone Technology
iPhone 8 Plus: 5.5-inch Retina HD display with True Tone Technology
iPhone X: 5.8-inch Super Retina OLED display
Screen Resolution Differences
iPhone 8: 1334 x 750 at 326 ppi
iPhone 8 Plus: 1920 x 1080 at 401 ppi
iPhone X: 2436 x 1125 at 458 ppi
The iPhone X easily has the upper hand with resolution and size, making it a clear winner for those who care about such things. It’s a good bet too that the OLED panel will also surpass the LCD versions found in the iPhone 8, both in color accuracy and other measures of image quality.
Physical Size Differences
iPhone 8: Height: 5.45 inches, Width: 2.65 inches, Thickness: 0.29 inches, Weight: 5.22 ounces
iPhone 8 Plus: Height: 6.24 inches, Width: 3.07 inches, Thickness: 0.30 inches, Weight: 7.13 ounces
iPhone X: Height: 5.65 inches, Width: 2.79 inches, Thickness 0.30 inches, Weight 6.14 ounces
Let’s be real, though. The appeal of the iPhone X’s screen is more about design aesthetics and size-to-screen ratio than it is about image quality. And on that front, the iPhone X is actually better than a Goldilocks device when it comes to sizing.
That’s because its physical dimensions are only slightly bigger than the iPhone 8 and still noticeably smaller than the iPhone 8 Plus. And yet, the iPhone X’s screen is easily the biggest of the three devices. In fact, the leap in screen size is the same 0.3-inch increase found between the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. And who doesn’t want a bigger screen packed inside a smaller device?
Battery Life Differences
iPhone 8: Rated for 14 hours of talk time, 12 hours of internet use and 13 hours of video playback
iPhone 8 Plus: Rated for 21 hours of talk time, 13 hours of internet use and 14 hours of video playback
iPhone X: Rated for 21 hours of talk time, 12 hours of internet use and 13 hours of playback
Based purely on the spec-sheet ratings provided by Apple, it appears that the iPhone X’s battery life would be on par with the new iPhone 8 Plus. However, there is some room for confusion on this point since Apple exec Phil Schiller and Apple’s specification sheet on the iPhone X note the device should last “up to two hours longer than the iPhone 7”.
Both iPhone 8 devices, on the other hand, are footnoted as having battery performance that “lasts about the same as iPhone 7 or 7 Plus.”
If you can decipher the vague claims and the mixture of model names, it appears that the iPhone X will offer roughly two more hours of battery life than what the iPhone 7 or the new iPhone 8 will offer. That’s impressive given the iPhone X’s bigger, power-hungry screen.
But it appears that only testing will reveal how the iPhone X’s battery life compares to the new iPhone 8 Plus. Right now on paper, it seems they’ll be comparable.
Rear Camera Differences
iPhone 8: 12-megapixel with f/1.8 aperture and optical image stabilization.
iPhone 8 Plus: One 12-megapixel wide-angle camera with f/1.8 aperture and optical image stabilization. One 12 megapixel telephoto lens with f/2.8 aperture.
iPhone X: One 12 megapixel wide-angle camera with f/1.8 aperture and optical image stabilization. One 12-megapixel camera with f/2.4 aperture and optical stabilization.
Like the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, the difference between the base level iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus is the second telephoto camera lens. That extra lens gives users the option of a 2x optical zoom and allows for the software-aided blurred background effect Apple calls Portrait Mode.
The differences between the iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X camera modules are more subtle but still noteworthy. Though the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 place feature image stabilization on at least one lens, both lenses on the iPhone X feature optical image stabilization, helping to further reduce the “noise” or distortion in a picture that can result from camera shake while shooting. The camera lenses are also stacked vertically on top of each other on the back of the device, instead of horizontally like they are on the iPhone 7 Plus and the new iPhone 8 Plus.
As a result, we’d expect the iPhone X to best the iPhone 8 in low-light situations. It’s not a stretch to assume these image refinements will seem negligible though in everyday use to most consumers, especially when factored against a $200+ premium.
Front Camera Differences
iPhone 8: 7-megapixel FaceTime HD camera with f/2.2 aperture and a retina flash
iPhone 8 Plus: 7-megapixel FaceTime HD camera with f/2.2 aperture and a retina flash
iPhone X: 7-megapixel TrueDepth camera with f/2.2
The real advantage the iPhone X holds over both iPhone 8 models lies in that “TrueDepth” label coined by Apple. The term refers to a new cluster of sensors located in the “notch” at the top of the iPhone X screen that powers a variety of advanced features, including the ability to unlock the iPhone X with your face and create “Animojis” that mirror your actual face movements. The new system also brings the Portrait Mode shooting feature to the front facing camera of the iPhone X as well.
If you’re into Snapchat, emojis or selfies, this feature difference between the iPhone 8 and iPhone X is arguably a bigger deal than the rear cameras.
Security Differences: Touch ID v. Face ID Unlocking
iPhone 8: Touch ID Unlocking
iPhone 8 Plus: Touch ID Unlocking
iPhone X: Face ID Unlocking
Apple pioneered the use of fingerprint sensors as a biometric security measure for unlocking your smartphone with the launch of the iPhone 5s back in 2013. Now most of us accept this capability as table stakes for the smartphone world, and the feature is still included in both the new iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus.
However, the edge-to-edge screen design of the iPhone X eliminated space for a dedicated fingerprint sensor. As a result, the iPhone X leverages advanced facial scanning as a biometric alternative for unlocking your phone. This new method is called Face ID.
Using your face or eyes to unlock a smartphone isn’t a new idea. Android devices have offered similar capabilities for years. Generally speaking, theses early implementations have been clunky to activate, easily fooled by photos of your face and much slower than fingerprint authentication.
If Apple’s technology offers vast improvements on these fronts, the switch from Touch ID to Face ID could be of little practical concern for most users in most settings. In some ways, it could even be an improvement (just think of cold days wearing gloves).
But it’s also easy to imagine a variety of plausible scenarios where raising your phone within full view of your face to unlock it makes less sense than just scanning your fingerprint (just think of quickly glancing at your phone down by your hip in a movie theater).
That’s why this move should be compared to the loss of the headphone jack with the launch of the iPhone 7 and 7s. Face ID may become the way of the future, but that doesn’t make the sacrifice of current standards like Touch ID any easier to swallow.
iPhone 8: Starting at $699
iPhone 8 Plus: Starting at $799
iPhone X: Starting at $999
A 64GB iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus will retail for $699 and $799 respectively. A 64GB iPhone X will start at $999.
Preorder and Ship Date Differences
The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus will be available for preorder starting on September 15 and will ship on September 22. Preorders for the iPhone X will start on October 27. Units will begin shipping on November 3.
The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are available in three color options of silver, gold and black. The iPhone X will only be available in silver or black color options.
How are the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X Similar?
All three new iPhone models feature the same six-core A11 Bionic chip complete with a “neural engine” and an embedded M11 motion coprocessor.
All three new iPhone models are available in two storage sizes of 64GB or 256GB.
Both iPhone 8 models and the iPhone X support Qi wireless charging as well as fast charging, which can charge the battery up to 50 percent in 30 minutes.
Water and Dust Resistance
All three iPhone models are capable of surviving splashes and even brief submersions, similar to the protections offered in the iPhone 7.