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iPhone 8 Plus vs iPhone 7 Plus cameras compared: is there really much of a difference?

iPhone 8 Plus vs iPhone 7 Plus cameras compared: is there really much of a difference?

There's no denying that the iPhone 8 Plus has the best camera ever put on an iPhone. After all, it is the latest and greatest iPhone model yet, and Apple has thrown in improvements on both the hardware and the software front. But really, what has changed?

Is the iPhone 8 camera dramatically better than the one on the iPhone 7, or is the gap between the two only marginal? Is there any real-life difference at all? These are the questions we wanted to answer, so we took the iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone 7 Plus out for a quick shootout. Here is what we observed.

Scene 1


iPhone 8 Plus
iPhone 7 Plus
iPhone 8 Plus iPhone 7 Plus
One of the factors setting these two photos apart is how colors are rendered. Notice how the brown is more intense in the iPhone 8 Plus's photo. And when we zoom in, we see that details are a tad clearer, accentuated by more sharpening in the iPhone 8 Plus's shot. Overall, there appears to be a subtle difference in how the two cameras perform, at least in this particular example. In the next shot, however, the difference will be much easier to spot.

Scene 2


iPhone 8 Plus
iPhone 7 Plus
iPhone 8 Plus iPhone 7 Plus
It should be clear to see that the iPhone 8 Plus delivers more saturated colors in this situation. The overall temperature is warmer, which is no surprise given that we took the photo as the sun was setting. 

Scene 3


iPhone 8 Plus
iPhone 7 Plus
iPhone 8 Plus iPhone 7 Plus
That sunset we mentioned – well, here it is. Surprisingly, there's no HDR action going on as the two phones simply decided not to use the mode. But we can't complain since the two images are quite good-looking. And very similar to each other, for that matter, though the iPhone 8 Plus delivers a more pleasing shade of blue in the sky and more contrast overall.

Scene 4


iPhone 8 Plus
iPhone 7 Plus
iPhone 8 Plus iPhone 7 Plus
To see whether the telephoto cameras behaved any differently, we snapped this set of shots at 2X zoom. The iPhone 8 Plus took a warmer image, much as it did in Scene 2, and the results are more faithful, as far as colors and overall appearance go. Curiously, the photo out of the iPhone 7 Plus appears sharper from up close, although it was the other way around in previous scenes. This could have something to do with the way the two phones handle digital noise, or could be the result of differences in camera hardware. We can't be entirely sure. 

Scene 5


iPhone 8 Plus
iPhone 7 Plus
iPhone 8 Plus iPhone 7 Plus
Something we noticed during our shootout was that the flash on the iPhone 8 Plus produced vastly different results. Different in a good way – we can instantly tell that the colors in the iPhone 8 Plus's photo are more lifelike and accurate, looking at the skin tones and judging by the color of my jacket. By the way, these are both Portrait shots, taking advantage of the newly added option to actually use the flash when the mode is active. 

Scene 6


iPhone 8 Plus
iPhone 7 Plus
iPhone 8 Plus iPhone 7 Plus
Here's one more low-light situation where we wanted the flash to shine some light at out model. As it is easy to notice, details in the iPhone 8 Plus's photo are much clearer, but the subject isn't illuminated as brightly. That's not necessarily a bad thing, however. It appears that the iPhone 8 Plus tries to strike a balance between the background and the foreground; it tries to avoid the subject's illumination to overpower the whole scene. Although we see why some might prefer the iPhone 7 Plus's look in this particular case – the subject does appear more visible.

Scene 7


iPhone 8 Plus
iPhone 7 Plus
iPhone 8 Plus iPhone 7 Plus
No need for flash this time 'round, of course. This is a night-time shot where the iPhone 8 Plus behaves much as it does in previous scenes – colors are a tad more saturated while details are a bit clearer and sharper. 

Scene 8


iPhone 8 Plus
iPhone 7 Plus
iPhone 8 Plus iPhone 7 Plus
And before we wrap things up, here's a set of photos we took indoors. The iPhone 8 Plus went for a slightly slower shutter speed (1/5 vs 1/7 for the 7 Plus), hence delivering a photo that is a tad "brighter". Despite this, the highlights haven't suffered and even hold more detail. Both photos were taken at ISO80, yet the one out of the 8 Plus is sharper overall, presumably due to it handling digital noise differently.

Conclusion


iPhone 8 Plus vs iPhone 7 Plus cameras compared: is there really much of a difference?
These were only half of the photos we took for the purpose of this iPhone 8 Plus vs iPhone 7 Plus camera comparison, but we'd say they suffice. Indeed, the newer model is superior, just as it should be given the technical improvements Apple threw in, but while its lead is more obvious in certain situations, it is barely noticeable in others. 

Colors out of the iPhone 8 Plus tend to be more vivid and accurate, judging by the photos that we took. This could be the result of software tweaks, of alterations in how the new image signal processor works, and of the introduction of a new color filter in the camera module. Details also tend to be clearer and sharper with the iPhone 8 Plus, although you'd usually need to zoom in quite a bit before any difference becomes obvious. In more than a few shots, we could barely tell one phone from the other.

The performance of the flash, could use some improvement. While colors do appear more natural in our flash-assisted shots, the amount of illumination wasn't always optimal. 

Overall, you should be able to see a difference in camera performance if you choose to upgrade from an iPhone 7 to an iPhone 8. If that's your primary reason for upgrading, however, and if you're hoping to see a dramatic image quality boost, you might want to wait for the iPhone 8s and iPhone 8s Plus, or whatever next year's iPhones end up being called.

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This story is part of: Camera comparisons(12 updates)

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