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.

Specs

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
RAM 2GB 2GB
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
Poravute/123RF

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

Camera

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

Software

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.

Social Media

A lot less clutter! Twitter relaunches purely chronological timeline

If you still miss the reverse-chronological timeline that Twitter ditched two years ago and you're fed up with all of the extra algorithmic tweets appearing in your feed, there's now a way to return it to how it used to be.
Mobile

iPhone XS Max vs. iPhone 8 Plus vs. iPhone 7 Plus: The big guys clash

The iPhone XXSs Max may well be the best plus-sized phone Apple's ever made. But should you buy Apple's new and powerful iPhone, or the older (but still great) iPhone 8 Plus or Phone 7 Plus? We found out.
Mobile

Apple iPhone XR vs. iPhone 8 vs. iPhone 7 vs. iPhone 6s: Which is best for you?

If you don't want to pay top dollar for a flagship iPhone or you prefer a smaller handset, then you might look beyond the Xs series. We compare the new Xr with last year's iPhone 8, the iPhone 7, and the outgoing iPhone 6s to help you…
Mobile

Apple iPhone XS vs. iPhone X: What difference does a year make?

How much difference does a year make to Apple's flagship smartphone range? We're about to find out as we pit the iPhone XS versus iPhone X to uncover the improvements and find out what's the same and precisely what has changed.
Mobile

Huawei P20 Pro vs. Apple iPhone X: A battle of flagship smartphones

Can Huawei's camera powerhouse, with its triple lens setup, defeat the best of Apple? We compare the P20 Pro with the iPhone X in various categories to find out which smartphone is better.
Mobile

Withings reclaims its brand with the new Steel HR Sport hybrid watch

After repurchasing itself from Nokia, Withings is back with the new Steel HR Sport fitness tracker. The hybrid sports watch may look familiar, but any resemblances to Nokia's Steel HR are only skin-deep.
Apple

Overheating problems may force Apple to extinguish the AirPower charger

At its September event last year, Apple unveiled the AirPower -- its new wireless charging mat that will allow you to charge multiple devices at one time. It has not yer been released. Here's everything we know about the device so far.
Mobile

Google’s Family Link expands globally, now works on more devices

Google's Family Link app makes it easier for parents to keep track of their kids' smartphone usage. They can restrict them from downloading apps, see which services they use the most, and more. Here's everything you need to know.
Wearables

Just $100 buys you this super tough — and very cool — G Shock fitness watch

Casio has announced a new Bluetooth-connected fitness watch in its G Shock line. The GBD-800 has an all-new digital display, fitness tracking technology, a classic G Shock look, and an attractive price.
Deals

Black Friday 2018: When it happens and where to find the best deals

Black Friday is the biggest shopping holiday of the year, and it will be here before you know it. If you can't wait until November 23 to start formulating a shopping plan, we've got you covered.
Mobile

Memoji in iOS 12 lets you create an avatar that looks and moves just like you

Apple's Memoji feature on iOS 12 allows you to send a customize Animoji that looks exactly like you. In comparison to other apps that allow you to make your own custom avatar, Memoji doesn't overcomplicate it.
Mobile

Here’s how to use Apple’s augmented reality Measure app in iOS 12

Included within iOS 12, the Measure app uses Apple's ARKit to measure objects and spaces in the real world with your camera. Using the app, you can measure a piece of furniture, the distance between points, and more.
Mobile

Google Play rewards system arrives in Japan, no sign of U.S. release yet

After some rumors, Google has finally revealed the existence of Google Play Points. But for now, it's only available in Japan, and there's no indication of when a U.S. or worldwide release is planned.
Mobile

Dozens of bite-sized features add up to a feast in Android 9.0 Pie

Google’s latest version of Android is here, and it’s called Android 9 Pie. We’ve been using it for the past few months on a Google Pixel to see how this flavor stacks up.