Great Expectations: My Review of the iPhone 8

It's been a few months now since I took the plunge and purchased the new iPhone. No, not the one everyone is obsessing over with the face recognition tech but the other one — the iPhone 8. Since some are on the fence, here's my take.

My iPhone 8
My iPhone 8


Apple's commitment to sustainability is admirable

For quite some time, Apple has been allowing folks to trade in their old phones when getting a new one. This is a really great practice because they will responsibly reuse or recycle it — and you get a discount toward a new phone. It’s a win-win for everyone. Because my iPhone 6 was in great shape, I received about $145 off my new phone. Not great compared to what I paid for it outright (don't ask) but better than nothing, or worse, trying to sell it on the used market. Craigslist can be a very strange marketplace so Apple’s made it easier to work around that.

When I got the new iPhone, I was pleasantly surprised to see no hard plastic in its packaging! Outside of the film that covers the screen, all the other packaging was recyclable paper. Again, this demonstrates Apple’s commitment to being responsible about how they contribute to waste going to land fills. The packaging, despite being paper, was still very premium — which you’d expect after paying hundreds and hundreds of dollars for a phone. Kudos to them for striking that balance.

Battery is more stable than in recent models

It might be a conspiracy theory, but every time a new phone comes out, it feels like my current phone gets slower and less reliable. Some people think there’s a “kill switch” or some other way Apple manipulates your old phones. I think that perception is less intentional and has more to do with newer phones being designed with the processor demands of the latest version of iOS in mind. So, not really a conspiracy, but more coincidence. That said, the battery life of the new phone is great. This was to be expected but I’m happy to report no extreme dips in battery life so far as was seen on some of the 6 and 7 models. I will keep an eye on that but so far so good.

iPhone on Wireless Charger
iPhone on Wireless Charger

Also, I absolutely love the wireless charging. This is what I was waiting for. I have a bedside table and a nice charger stand (hint: you don't have to wait for Apple's to be released since they are using the Qi wireless standard – Ikea sells wireless chargers!) and I can simply place my phone there for the evening and I’m done. No wires to seek. No clutter to contend with. I’m planning to buy more chargers and put them around the house! The future is here and I’m onboard.

Audio is loud but not particularly robust

This phone is loud. The ringers are loud and I don’t need to have the volume all the way up to hear someone I’m speaking to while walking down the street (unless it’s a particularly noisy street). But I wouldn't listen to music with the internal speakers unless in a pinch since they aren't quality speakers. You may have heard there were some call quality issues on launch but the newer versions of iOS cleared those up. For the record, I haven’t noticed anything awry before or since that update.

I like that the headphones included with the phone have the lightning end point so you can use them easily with the headphone jack gone. But, the cord is way too long! I think these headphones are intended to be used by someone far taller than me. Additionally, the shape of the new headphones is still not great for my ear canal (I can’t wear them without discomfort). And I still happen to hear noise pollution when people on the train use them and are listening to music on way too high of a volume. That said, the headphones don’t bother me as I really don’t use them. I’m still using my existing headphones with the included lightning dongle.

However, I’m often forgetting that we are riding the lightning now (i.e. no headphone jack) and so I’ll grab my regular headphones or headsets and try to plug them in and then realize I can’t do that without the dongle. I think if I get another couple of dongles, I’ll be okay to work around that. Also, there are some dongles that allow you to charge and listen to music at the same time. I grabbed one of those from Amazon (comment if you want to know which ones NOT to buy!) to keep at work so I can listen to music while also charging my phone. The other option is to buy completely wireless headphones but those have been hard to find.

Swimming is possible, though not recommended

Everyone knows you shouldn't indulge your electronics with a dip in a pool of water. But life happens. And this happened to me very recently with the iPhone 8. Normally I'm good about not having the phone in my back pocket but at that moment, it was there. I was heading to the bathroom at home and let's just say before anything could happen, my iPhone decided to swan dive into the toilet.

After yelling shit! a few times as I fished my phone out of the bowl, I prayed for the best. Surprisingly, it was completely submerged for at least a few seconds and yet, it was on — and running — like nothing had happened. I very carefully cleaned it up with Lysol disinfectant and no one, except me (and you, if you are reading this!), will be the wiser. Evidently this isn't specific to the iPhone 8 as the iPhone 7 was also built to be more water resistant. According to what I've read, the idea is the phone can withstand submersion into 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes. If you are prone to clumsy little accidents, this might be a must have feature if — like me — you decided to upgrade from an older iPhone.

iPhone Camera
iPhone Camera

Regrets?

I don’t have any regrets. I thought about going with the 8 Plus but, honestly, I like to be able to put my phone in my pocket (though never again my back pocket!) and that would absolutely not be possible with anything larger. And, from an ergonomics perspective, I think this phone is as big as I can comfortably go and have some ability to operate it one-handed. Additionally, I don’t need “portrait mode” considering I have a real camera that I enjoy using for making nicer photos.

There’s also this fomo (fear of missing out) vibe I’m getting from many with regard to the iPhone X but I honestly don’t feel that. I've heard some things about the face recognition not quite being up to snuff in the X. It's also really friggin' expensive!

Overall, I don't regret going with the best new option I could afford after owning my iPhone 6 for about 3 years. The water resistance and wireless charging make this novel enough for me; if you have an iPhone 7 or 7s then you may not feel like you need a new phone (and you are probably right!).

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