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Apple iPhone 8 Plus Review

Apple iPhone 8 Plus
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Call Quality

Confusing voice-call audio artifacts are hopefully a glitch Apple will correct soon

Apple iPhone 8 Plus Review

We first mentioned this issue in our iPhone 8 review, and at the time also noted that it similarly plagues the 8 Plus: While engaging with callers, we often observed a intermittent clicking sound coming from the phone's earpiece. This artifact doesn't seem to be emanating from the distant end of the call, which we verified by connecting to multiple numbers.

Curious if this might be a consequence of the phone's noise-canceling feature, we tried turning that off, yet the clicking continued. It's possible we just have a bad phone (or rather, bad pair of phones), but we're a little shocked to see an iPhone get something so simple so wrong. It's not like the clicking makes calls unintelligible – and some users will dismiss it as too minor to care about – but for a phone of this pedigree, and this price point, we expect voice-call perfection.

UPDATE (October 4, 2017): Apple has released the iOS 11.0.2 update that fixes the clicking sounds some users experienced during voice calls.

Battery Life

Beyond giving us some of the best iPhone battery life yet, the 8 Plus doesn't skimp on new power features

Apple iPhone 8 Plus Review

The iPhone Plus may have a bigger battery than the standard iPhone, but it also has a much larger screen. For other manufacturers, those two considerations might just cancel each other out, and we'd find the two phones exhibiting similar battery life. But just like we saw with iPhone and iPhone Plus models going back a few years now, the larger iPhone's increased power capacity manages to outpace any increased consumption.

With this new handset being roughly the same shape and size as last year's model, we weren't expecting any huge changes when it comes to battery capacity – and indeed, Apple tells shoppers that the iPhone 8 Plus should give them similar battery life as compared to the iPhone 7 Plus.

But as our tests show, not only does this year's phone enjoy better battery life than last year, stretching up to about ten-and-a-half hours of screen-on time, the gap between the two iPhones is growing larger still, helping to further establish the 8 Plus as the model to go for if endurance is a big selling point for you. Just be aware that recharging this big battery takes time, too, and it will be almost three hours while the phone goes from zero to full.

That's all well and good, but the even-more interesting stuff starts happening when we pair the phone with some optional accessories.

For the first time this year, the iPhone supports fast charging, albeit not with the power adapter included with the handset. Instead, if you pair the phone with a high-output USB Type-C power adapter, as you might have from your Apple laptop, and connect it to the iPhone 8 Plus over a Lightning cable, you can recharge your phone at an accelerated rate. We haven't put this combination to the test yet ourselves, but it's definitely something we'll be looking into.

The other big news is the arrival of wireless charging, with support for systems based on the Qi standard. Luckily, that's pretty ubiquitous in wireless charging circles, and while you can pick up a new charging pad just for your iPhone 8 Plus, there's a good chance that the phone will work just fine with existing hardware you may have lying around.

We tried this capability out with a Samsung wireless charger, and the iPhone 8 Plus performed nearly flawlessly. Of special note was just how quickly the phone was able to recognize the charger and begin refueling; sometimes Android phones can take a beat after being set down on a pad before they signal that recharging has begun, while the 8 Plus seemed to instantly get things started. And if you were concerned, we also tried using wireless charging with a case on the phone, and didn't run into any major problems – positioning can be a little wonky depending on your pad, but it ultimately works.

All this considered, from a power standpoint the iPhone 8 Plus is a fantastically strong contender, covering the bases of both all-day battery life and surprisingly flexible recharge options.

Conclusion


Apple iPhone 8 Plus Review

It's impossible to deny that the iPhone 8 Plus has a lot going for it: it takes everything we liked about the iPhone 7 Plus, delivers a few worthwhile upgrades, and largely steers clear of trying to fix things that aren't broken. While it feels like a much lesser step forward than the 7 Plus itself was, some of the new features here could really end up being surprise hits, and we've especially got our eye on how wireless charging is received.

The new glass back is attractive enough, but we're still not sold on the level of durability it offers, and just like with the iPhone 8, we're confused and concerned about the odd clicking noise besieging our voice calls. Still, neither of those issues are serious enough to really have us looking at the iPhone 8 Plus in a strongly negative light.

Apple iPhone 8 Plus Review
Instead, the problem is more the rest of Apple's lineup, and specifically the pending release of the iPhone X – a phone that looks to scratch the same sort of big-screen itch as the iPhone 8 Plus (not to mention satisfy users looking for dual-camera flexibility), while being a much bolder, forward-looking handset. From the incredible-sounding AMOLED display, to upgrades to the camera system (like a wider aperture for the telephoto lens, or portrait mode on the front-facer), the iPhone X promises to soundly one-up a lot of what makes the iPhone 8 Plus so appealing in the first place.

So where does that leave Apple's more traditional phablet?

Well, it's a much more affordable option, and even as a pricier iPhone than the 8, the Plus is still $200 less than the X. It's also a phone that's going to feel much more familiar than this odd new design, and while some smartphone users will seek out the innovative and unknown at every step, there's nothing wrong with taking comfort in a handset that gives you more of what you already know – and that it's faster, with better battery life than before, is a very nice cherry on top.

While we're forced to admit that this year's iPhone Plus is no longer the jewel in Apple's smartphone crown, it's no less a powerful, versatile phone than it's been in past generations, and a lot of the users who liked those predecessors are going to find plenty to enjoy here. But we're not going to fault you at all – and we doubt Apple would, either – if the iPhone 8 Plus just doesn't feel as appealing as it might have had the iPhone X never come to pass.

Bottom line: if you prefer your iPhone with this more traditional screen shape, or just can't stomach the idea of a $1000 smartphone, go ahead and dive right into the iPhone 8 Plus. But if you can wait just a little longer so you can get a chance to see what the iPhone X can really do, you'll be prepared to make one very informed decision about which vision for the future of Apple smartphones you want to support.

Pros

  • Monumental battery life
  • Wireless charging
  • Dual-camera improvements
  • Stunningly fast performance
  • Tons of storage space

Cons

  • Glass back feels damage-prone
  • Portrait lighting mode needs more fine-tuning
  • No longer feels like Apple's best iPhone
PhoneArena rating:
9.2Excellent
User rating:
8.52 Reviews
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PhoneArena rating:
9.2Excellent
Display5.5 inches, 1080 x 1920 pixels (401 ppi) IPS LCD
Camera12 megapixels
Hardware
Apple A11 Bionic, Hexa-core, 2390 MHz
3 GB RAM
Size6.24 x 3.07 x 0.30 inches
(158.4 x 78.1 x 7.5 mm)
7.13 oz  (202 g)
Battery2691 mAh, 21 hours talk time

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