iPhone 8 vs. iPhone 7: Time for an upgrade?

iPhone 8 vs. iPhone 7
Julian Chokkattu / Digital Trends
Apple’s annual iPhone update always generates some excitement, but this year the iPhone X stole the show. It’s sure to be popular, but not everyone will want one. Maybe a $1,000 phone is a bit much, or you prefer the more manageable size of the iPhone 8. At first glance, the iPhone 8 doesn’t look any different than the iPhone 7, but if you dig in beneath the Retina display, you’ll find some important distinctions. If you already have the iPhone 7, however, the question remains: Is it worth upgrading? Let’s find out how the two devices measure up.


Apple iPhone 8

Apple iPhone 8

Apple iPhone 7

samsung galaxy s8 plus vs iphone 7 thumb 2333
Size 5.45 x 2.65 x 0.29 inches (138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3 mm)  5.44 × 2.64 × 0.28 inches (138.3 × 67.1 × 7.1 mm)
Weight 5.22 ounces (148 grams) 4.87 ounces (138 grams)
Screen 4.7-inch Retina HD IPS LCD 4.7-inch Retina HD LED-backlit widescreen
Resolution 1,334 × 750 pixels 1,334 × 750 pixels
OS iOS 11 iOS 10 (Upgradable to iOS 11)
Storage 64/256GB 32/128/256GB
MicroSD Card Slot No No
NFC support Yes (Apple Pay only) Yes (Apple Pay only)
Processor A11 Bionic chip with 64-bit architecture, M11 motion coprocessor Apple A10 Fusion with 64-bit architecture, M10 motion coprocessor
Connectivity 4G LTE, GSM, CDMA, HSPA+, 802.11ac/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi 4G LTE, GSM, CDMA, HSPA+, 802.11ac/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
Camera 12MP rear with OIS, 7MP front 12MP rear with OIS, 7MP front
Video 4K at 60fps, 1080p at 240fps, 4K at 30fps, 1080p at 30 or 60fps, 720p at 240fps
Bluetooth Yes, version 5 Yes, version 4.2
Fingerprint sensor Yes Yes
Other sensors Barometer, gyro, accelerometer, proximity sensor, compass, ambient light sensor Barometer, 3-axis gyro, accelerometer, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor
Water Resistant Yes, IP67 Yes, IP67
Battery 1,821mAh 1,960mAh
Charger Lightning Lightning
Quick Charging Yes No
Wireless Charging Yes No
Marketplace Apple App Store Apple App Store
Color offerings Gold, Silver, Space Grey Rose Gold, Gold, Silver, Black, Jet Black
Availability AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile
Price $700 $550
DT Review Hands-on 3.5 out of 5 stars

The biggest upgrade in the iPhone 8 is the new A11 Bionic chip. It offers a 30-percent efficiency boost and a 50-percent performance boost, at least when compared to the iPhone 7’s A10 chip according to Apple. That’s a significant upgrade, though we’re unsure how often you’ll feel the difference, because we’ve never found the iPhone 7 lacking in terms of processing power. It should be discernibly faster, but it may be a case of future-proofing for some of the more demanding apps and games to come (especially with augmented reality apps).

In terms of RAM, Apple rarely lists it as a spec, and we assume the two phones both pack 2GB, which is adequate for running iOS. There’s still a debate about how much RAM a smartphone needs, but it’s certainly not a differentiator here.

One welcome improvement for the base model of the iPhone 8 is the storage capacity. It comes in 64GB and 256GB configurations. The iPhone 7 comes with 32GB, 128GB, or 256GB.

Winner: iPhone 8

Design, display, and durability

Best iPhone 8 cases - X-Doria Defense Shield Case

You’re going to have to look very closely to see any differences in the design of these two phones. The most obvious change is that Apple has switched to a glass back for the iPhone 8. It is also 10 grams heavier and fractionally bigger in all directions, but the dimensions are close enough that iPhone 7 cases will still fit the iPhone 8.

At 4.7-inches, the displays in the iPhone 7 and 8 are among the smallest around, but we’re still a little disappointed that Apple has stuck with a 1,334 × 750-pixel resolution. Both phones support 3D Touch and a wide color gamut, the only change with the iPhone 8 is that it has a True Tone display, which will adjust to your environment for the ideal color tone.

When it comes to durability, both phones are IP67-rated, so they can take a dunk in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes and emerge unscathed. Apple says the glass backing on the iPhone 8 is durable, but we’d imagine it will still be more likely to break than the metal back found on the iPhone 7.

The classier look of the glass back and the slight display improvement are enough for the iPhone 8 to claim a slim win here.

Winner: iPhone 8

Battery life and charging

iphone charging accident 2

It’s just as well that the newest A11 chip is supposed to be 30-percent more power efficient than its predecessor, because Apple has reduced the battery size in the iPhone 8. It sports a 1,821mAh battery, compared to the 1,960mAh battery in the iPhone 7. Apple claims that it should last just about as long as the battery found in the iPhone 7, but we’ll have to test it to be sure.

There are a couple of notable improvement here, though. First, the iPhone 8 supports fast-charging, meaning you can charge the battery up 50 percent in just 30 minutes. That’s a major boost over the iPhone 7. The iPhone 8 also supports wireless charging and will work with any wireless charging pad that supports the Qi standard. This is the double benefit of having a glass back.

Winner: iPhone 8


Apple iPhone 7
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

On paper, there’s little difference between the cameras on the iPhone 8 and the cameras on the iPhone 7. We’re still talking about a 12-megapixel main shooter, and a 7-megapixel front-facing camera. The main cameras here are overshadowed by the dual-lens offerings in the 7 Plus, 8 Plus, and iPhone X.

Apple says the iPhone 8 camera is slightly better than the iPhone 7 camera, given it sports a larger and faster sensor, one that’s capable of capturing more light. The iPhone 8 is also able to shoot 4K video at 60 frames per second, while the iPhone 7 is limited to 30 fps. It wins in slow-motion as well, as you can now capture video at 240 fps in crisp 1080p.

Winner: iPhone 8


iOS 11 review

The iPhone 8 ships with iOS 11, but iPhone 7 owners can upgrade to Apple’s latest platform and receive all the same benefits. There isn’t really anything to divide these two phones in the software department. Check out our iOS 11 tips and tricks to find out what it can do.

Winner: Tie

Price and availability

The 64GB version of the iPhone 8 costs $700, and the 256GB model will run you $850. You can also currently buy it on-contract through each of the major carriers in the U.S. — check out our iPhone 8 buying guide for all the details.

Apple always drops the price of older iPhones when a new one comes along, and such is the case with the introduction of the iPhone 8. The 32GB version of the iPhone 7 now starts at $550, and you can get the 128GB version for $650. Once again, it’s available through all the major U.S. carriers on contract deals. You can also buy both phones from Apple SIM-free and unlocked.

If you’re looking to save a few bucks, the iPhone 7 looks like a good deal and even the 128GB version, which touts double the storage capacity, is cheaper than the base model of the iPhone 8.

Winner: iPhone 7

Overall winner: iPhone 8

We know that all you iPhone 7 owners don’t want to hear this, but the iPhone 8 really isn’t enough of a jump to make it a worthwhile upgrade. The most notable improvement is the processor, but, honestly, we think it will be a while before you’ll feel the benefit of that. The rest of the improvements are simply too minor to merit the extra expense.

If you’re currently shopping for a new iPhone and it boils down to these two, then we would certainly pick the iPhone 8, partly to future-proof and partly to get the speedier charging and support for wireless charging. If you want to experience the best Apple can do, however, you should be looking at the iPhone X or the iPhone 8 Plus.

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