Ars Technica reviews Apple’s iPhone 8 and 8 Plus: Great phones, but who are they for?

“The iPhone 8 exists simultaneously in two time periods — an emerging future pervaded by innovative new apps incorporating augmented reality and machine learning and a past when LCD displays offered the best quality and the user’s relationship to the screen was less emphasized,” Samuel Axon writes for Ars Technica. “The A11 Bionic chip is a marvelous feat of engineering, offering industry-leading performance and powering the most accessible AR platform yet. But it’s tied to a display technology that the industry is finally ready to move on from and a design that didn’t even seem fresh when it was introduced three years ago.”

Apple's iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, powered by Apple's amazing A11 Bionic chip
Apple’s iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, powered by Apple’s amazing A11 Bionic chip
“When weighed against other phones in its class, the iPhone 8 poses the question: ‘Which do consumers care more about—performance or the design and screen?’ I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that today, most consumers care a lot more about the design and the screen. Initially, that makes the iPhone 8 hard to recommend to many,” Axon writes. “That’s the current problem with the iPhone 8. By several metrics, it’s a great handset—I’m just not sure for whom.”

“For consumers who might not be willing to spring for the iPhone X’s new display tech and facial mapping features, the phone provides an AR platform likely ready for the next three years of new apps. I just don’t know if the sort of people who care about future proofing for AR wouldn’t also be willing to pay extra for the newer display and security tech we’ll see in November,” Axon writes. “High-end Apple consumers are going to want the iPhone X, and millions of them will be willing to pay for it. Consumers who just want a decent iPhone are presented with a dizzying array of options. They can get an iPhone 7 or even a 6S or SE for significantly cheaper than the iPhone 8. Where does that leave the iPhone 8? Who is it for?”

Tons more, as usual, in the full review – recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: People who don’t like notches occluding the top or sides of their displays?

But, seriously, as we wrote on Tuesday: Let’s allow the entire iPhone family to be on the market, around the world, for some time before we judge the iPhone mix and pronounce the world’s second- and third-best smartphones “dead.” Some people will (think they) want the Home button and Touch ID. Many millions worldwide will be swayed by iPhone 8/Plus’ lower prices and promotions relative to iPhone X. Apple is usually close to dead on with pricing. Promotions are another variable. This one is tricky, but we wouldn’t bet against Apple on this.

Poor iPhone 8 Plus. You’ll be the best smartphone on the planet for all of 42 days.MacDailyNews, September 19, 2017

This is pretty much the universal reaction to what would have been the world’s best smartphone had the iPhone X not existed. Again, Apple may have a problem on their hands if they’ve made too many iPhone 8/Plus units and are not prepared to market and promo them like crazy. Since the U.S. carriers are already offering iPhone 8/Plus promotions, Apple seems to have planned for the expected reaction to iPhone 8/Plus with iPhone X looming over them.MacDailyNews, September 19, 2017

You know, we’re not convinced that Apple will be overrun with iPhone 8/Plus preorders. Yes, use the App Store app [to preorder], in case, but it might be an easier night than you think. In fact, Apple just might have a problem on their hands, judging by the early results of our online poll. It’s early, but we expect Apple to market the living you-know-what out of the iPhone 8/Plus because, next to the iPhone X, it’s looking like a tough sell.MacDailyNews, September 14, 2017

The top three results of our online poll asking which model would be your next iPhone:

• 68.29%: iPhone X
• 11.33%: iPhone 8 Plus
• 08.74%: iPhone 8

Apple’s iPhone X kills iPhone 8 and exposes Cook & Co.’s risky gamble – September 26, 2017
Positive reviews for Apple’s iPhone 8/Plus and iOS 11 bode well for the iPhone X – September 19, 2017
Wired reviews Apple’s iPhone 8 and 8 Plus: Virtually perfect phones – and yet already obsolete – September 19, 2017
Associated Press reviews iPhone 8/Plus: Like flying in coach versus first class iPhone X – September 19, 2017
USA Today’s Baig reviews iPhone 8/Plus: Excellent iPhones overshadowed by iPhone X – September 19, 2017
Apple’s A11 Bionic chip is by far the highest-performing system on the market; totally destroys Android phones – September 19, 2017
Apple’s A11 Bionic chip in iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and iPhone X leaves Android phones choking in the dust – September 18, 2017
The inside story of Apple’s amazing A11 Bionic chip – September 18, 2017
Apple’s A11 Bionic obliterates top chips from Qualcomm, Samsung and Huawei – September 18, 2017
Apple accelerates mobile processor dominance with A11 Bionic; benchmarks faster than 13-inch MacBook Pro – September 15, 2017
Apple’s A11 Bionic chip in iPhone X and iPhone 8/Plus on par with 2017 MacBook Pro – September 14, 2017


  1. Apple inc. has taken a deliberate position on iPhone 8/8 Plus and X.

    BOTH models absolutely cream any competition, as shown by early reviews (they don’t even come close has been the tag line).
    Stage one: release the Continuity model September 2017 to a vast customer base that simply upgrade to the latest iPhone that they trust, know and love (including Touch ID, better camera, faster overall experience and of course access to Augmented Reality apps running on this stunning device).
    Stage two: watch pent up demand and hype build between the September 2017 keynote announcing iPhone X and the launch in early November 2017.
    Stage three: boom! IPhone X launches to herald in the “leap frog” ( remember 2007 and Steve’s original chart showing how the iPhone was going to Leapfrog the competition; well, here they go again, hang on to your hats, as they leap even further ahead!).!
    Note: in the intervening period expect a lot of naysayer doom predictions and also Financial analysts working with hedge funds to try and game APPL; smart long term investors will simply sit back and enjoy the dividends.

    1. You would have to be a brain dead idiot to buy the iPhone 8. It’s basically been the same phone for the last 4-years. Thanks Tim!

      The X is flawed in myriad ways (half-baked Face ID, notch, starting at only 64GB, $150 ass rape for RAM upgrade, $1000 price of entry, botched launch… which is quite normal for Cook now, etc).

      The X is the only way to get any semblance of innovation. When animojis are the most interesting part of a Keynote, you realize that Tim Cook should’ve been fired years ago.

      1. Just to show how generous I am, I am hereby offering to help Apple’s shareholders forget all about Tim Cook by accepting the third of a trillion dollars he has added to the value of their investment. Judging by Idiots’ comment, they would be brain dead to regard the money as real, so why not give it to me?

      2. ???

        You remind me of the dumb blond bimbo’s reaction to the iPhone 4S, who said that it was a disaster, since nobody will ever be able to know that hers isn’t 4 but 4S and her social status will now take a severe hit.

        I thought idiots who only see the appearance have pretty much disappeared over the past four years, but apparently, some are still alive.

        If you ignore all other other features (better display, better photos, faster charging, wireless charging thanks to glass back, etc), you can’t ignore how much faster (70% in many tasks) iPhone 8 is vs. iPhone 7 (and let us forget the iPhone 6s or 6 dinosaurs).

  2. I think there are three Apple iPhones here that’ll kick ass within their own segments (the SE on the bottom end), the iPhone 8 (smaller screen a little cheaper but still very much a luxury phone with great internals) and the iPhone X (the cream of the crop, large screen) . . . .the iPhone I most see on the outside looking in is the iPhone 8 Plus. For its cost, might as well get the X . . . and if a larger screen matters to you, again go with the X. Camera? X. Other than aesthetic preferences, I see zero reason why someone would spring for an 8 Plus over the X.

  3. Me…. I don’t need the latest and greatest. Currently on an SE, and like it, but I think I’m going to move to the 8 for a little larger screen size. My older eyes would enjoy it. I don’t need the X although it’s a great phone with new capability. so yeah, I’m the candidate for the 8, just just figuring out when to pull the trigger.

  4. Leave it to a tech guy to assume the world view of the average consumer matches his alone. I have a 6S. It works great for me and I have no burning desire to change it. However, if I do, the 8 or 8+ is a great update. I have no qualms with the Retina LED display; think it is more than adequate. The A11 processor and new cameras would be huge step up. And with my new Watch Series 3 I am pulling my phone out of my pocket much less anyway. Besides, the X is going to be a lot better a year from now when production is ironed out. So, to answer Ars Technica’s question, I guess the 8/8+ are for me and the millions like me.

  5. Shockingly poorly conceived review from the usually stellar ARS.

    First: enough with the pretentious judgement disguised as a question. You answered the question yourself in the article as you would have seen from a simple report of the facts.

    Who is the iPhone 8 for?

    1) Apple. Come on, “Supply Chain Genius” Cook has been extending product cycles years beyond freshness dates. It’s cheaper. If you have a problem with it, then do a review of the Mac Mini.

    2) anyone who prioritizes speed over whizbang features will save money getting the 8 instead of the X.

    3) anyone on a budget with an iPhone 6 or earlier would see a dramatic improvement in all measures except of course the convenience of a headphone jack and battery life

    Just report the facts!

  6. I had a 5s for 4 years, like it but thought I didnt really want a bigger phone, but the 5s was starting to run a bit warm, so I went for an 8.

    I like it a lot, the size works for me, I want to be able to put in in a pocket, it is fast.

    So why should I apologize for having it?

  7. I want the same screen as my plus in a smaller package or a larger screen in a plus-sized package, the problem for me with the X is the notch which reduces the screen space (resized content not obscured by the notch is much smaller than on the plus screen). This may solve itself because the X might not be available until the Xs is revealed in 11 months.

  8. I have had my 8 Plus for a week now. It is simply the fastest and most satisfying set since the original iPhone appeared, and I’ve been through all the amazing advances in the past 10 years. The phone feels amazing in hand. No cases here to take away the glass feel. Will put a bumper on.

    The thing everyone is overlooking is the A11 chip doesn’t have to do all the processing associated with iPhone X facial recognition, thus, it frees the chip to more processing power. Love this set!!!

    1. Stan, where do you hail from? I don’t know anyone that refers to a mobile phone as a “Set”. Mobile, cell, smartphone… but not “set”. I am curious where the term “Set” is used.

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