Apple's iPhone X vs iPhone 8: should you buy one?

Are the new iPhones worth it?

We compare Apple’s iPhone 8 and iPhone X with the best of the rest of the smartphones.

It’s that time of year again, when Apple releases its latest iPhone, but this year there’s a difference: a new premium smartphone called the iPhone X, released along with the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus.

What are the differences between Apple’s new handsets? Is it worth users upgrading from older iPhones? How do they compare to the top Android smartphones? Let’s look at the newcomers.

iPhone X

Apple iPhone X With its name pronounced “iPhone 10” (that X is the Roman numeral for 10), Apple’s new premium smartphone is a departure from its previous iPhones, offering a larger 5.8in all-screen OLED Multi-Touch display, with an ultra-high 2436 x 1125 pixel resolution at 458 pixels per inch (PPI), and an ultra-thin bezel surrounding the screen. 

The result is Apple’s best and largest-ever smartphone screen in a handset that’s smaller than the iPhone 8 Plus.

While this is impressive, it looks like Apple is playing catch-up with leading Android phones, which have been progressively gaining in screen size during the past few years. The Samsung Galaxy S8, for example, has boasted similar screen specifications for months.

To be fair, the iPhone X’s overall look and feel is distinctly Apple-esque and it has some impressive new features, such as Face ID facial-recognition authentication (including support for Apple Pay) and a dual lens 12-megapixel rear camera (one telephoto and one wide angle). 

Apple iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus (behind) with Apple AirPods (not to scale) There’s no home button on the iPhone X, no doubt to help keep its size to an absolute minimum. Instead, you return to the home screen by swiping up. 

Apple also claims that upgrades to power consumption mean the iPhone X’s battery will last up to two hours longer than the iPhone 7.

The iPhone X shares new and improved features with the iPhone 8 releases, including the faster A11 Bionic processor and wireless charging. This all comes at a hefty price: A$1579 with 64GB of storage, or a mind-blowing A$1829 with 256GB storage. 

There’s no denying the X is the best iPhone yet, but there are other outstanding phones around at significantly lower outright and contract prices, for example, the Galaxy S8 and iPhone 8 Plus.

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iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus

Apple iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus (on far left) The iPhone 8 offers much the same display as its predecessor: a 4.7in widescreen LCD Multi-Touch display with 1334 x 750 pixel resolution at 326 PPI. It will please those who prefer the traditionally compact iPhone. There’s nothing really wrong with the screen, but it’s unimpressive by today’s standards.

The iPhone 8 Plus is likely to be popular among those who prefer a larger screen. It boasts a 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution at 401 PPI. It has other advantages, too, such as a dual-lens rear camera and longer battery life than the 4.7in iPhone 8.

In truth, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are incremental upgrades, with very similar screens and dimensions to their predecessors and, alas, no headphone jack. 

They do have a number of enhancements on previous iPhones, including TrueTone technology that measures ambient light, colour and brightness and adjusts the screen display accordingly.

One noticeable change is the new glass back to facilitate wireless charging, that Apple claims is “the most durable glass ever in a smartphone”. Inside, the new iPhones sport Apple’s six-core A11 Bionic processor, which the company says offers up to 70 per cent more processing speed than the previous A10.

All the new iPhones now support augmented reality (AR), with Apple launching the ARKit for software developers to create games and other applications that feature AR. 

Battery life, unfortunately, is about the same as each of the model’s predecessors, according to Apple. 

iPhone 8 charging dockThe iPhone 8 pricing, too, is much the same as its predecessors: a 64GB iPhone 8 costs A$1079, or A$1329 with 256GB of storage; the 64GB iPhone 8 Plus costs A$1229, or A$1479 with 256GB of storage. 

The cheapest 2GB, two-year contract for the iPhone 8 was A$69 per month (from Virgin) at the time of writing, compared to A$75 for the equivalent iPhone 8 Plus plan.

Overall, if you already have an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus, there may not be enough new in the new models to warrant an upgrade. 

For those with an older iPhone an upgrade is more compelling, with the iPhone 8 Plus being the better option for most. It costs a bit more than the 4.7in iPhone 8, but that’s offset by a better screen, camera and battery life.

The alternatives

Samsung Galaxy S8 When it comes to smartphones, there are plenty on the market to choose from. Here are four of the better options:

Samsung Galaxy S8

A state-of-the-art 5.8in smartphone that’s significantly cheaper than the iPhone X, the Galaxy S8 costs A$1199 outright, with contract pricing generally on par with equivalent iPhone 8 plans. If you are happy to use the Android platform, this is a better device, with a much better screen and battery life than the iPhone X.

Apple iPhone 7

Apple has dropped the price of the 32GB iPhone 7 to A$849, and it’s now very affordable on contract, making it something of a bargain. If you’re upgrading from an iPhone 6 or earlier, it’s well worth considering.

Motorola Moto Z2 Play

If you’re not wedded to using the iOS platform, the Moto Z2 Play at A$699 is even better value than the iPhone 7. It’s an ultra-thin good-looker that performs surprisingly well, despite its mid-range processor. It also offers 64GB of storage, a full HD 5.5in display, and it is modular, with snap-on optional modules available, such as a DSLR camera and extra battery.

Nokia 3

Nokia is back with a range of new Android smartphones, with the Nokia 3 at just A$249 the cheapest. Its performance, battery life and camera fall well short of the best premium phones, but the 5in display is quite reasonable, and you’re unlikely to find a better or more attractive phone for the price.

Nokia 3

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