In my brief time I had with the iPhone 8 at the Apple Store, I can say with a relatively high degree of confidence that it is exactly what you would expect it to be. It is a minor upgrade to the smartphone you already carry.
By minor upgrade, I do not mean that Apple has not done some major things with the device. It is just that in the grand scheme of things, you will not notice most of them, and would not even know about them unless you read very detailed write ups.
You will notice that the colors are newish. There is still a gold color. But it is a modified gold color. The same is true of the other colors. There are no completely new colors such as blue or purple. Still, the colors look very nice in person. None of that will matter the moment you slip a case on it.
Speaking of cases, the one you have for the 7 will work just fine for the 8 with few exceptions. That case will also hide the new band that goes around the side of the phone, and the glass cover on the back. If you choose to go without a case, you will notice that the phone feels really good in the hand. Though it is heavier, you may not notice it. To me, the phone felt thinner and lighter. If feels better in the hand than the non-glossy 7. But who are we kidding. You are going to put a case on it if you buy it. So none of that matters at all.
I didn’t even bother with the front camera. The rear camera is where the new action is. The pictures I took in the store looked great. Portrait Lighting is for real. If you take lots of pictures of people in your life, the 8 plus is the only way to go. Not only does Portrait mode look better than ever, the new Portrait Lighting effects are fabulous.
I took a picture of an Apple employee who happened to be wearing a hijab. She was about 10 feet away, and didn’t know she was being photographed. (Apple Store employees are fair game for camera tests in the store. I confirmed this while I was there). While she was serving another customer, I took a quick snap in Portrait mode.
I cycled through the effects and decided on the Stage Lighting effect. I framed the picture just so and showed it to another employee. He was stunned, and sent the picture to his own personal iPhone. Both employees and customers were equally taken by the photo. It was the perfect subject at the perfect moment. But the end product was worth saving, printing, and framing. I have never taken a better portrait.
My wife came in a few minutes later and I took a couple portraits of her. She has never looked better in pictures. I didn’t bother with any of myself. I’m not the most photogenic person I know. I didn’t test other types of pictures. The photos at the top of this write up were taken with my iPhone 7 Plus. They look plenty good to me.
The screen looked the same as my 7 as well. The big difference being TrueTone. I do like the TrueTone effect on my iPad Pro. It makes a difference as the lighting changes. That is hard to see in an Apple Store where all of the lighting is the same.
It is hard to judge the quality of small speakers in an Apple Store. But to my ear, the speakers sounded louder than what is on my 7. Others have confirmed this observation and added that there is real stereo separation. None of that matters if you only listen to things through headphones or external speakers.
The interface was fast and fluid. But I would describe my 7 in the same way. It may well be that the 8 is much faster. But I don’t think it is something you can feel in day to day experience unless you were doing side by side testing, which no one does in real life.
If you judge an upgrade by what the new one can do that the old one can’t, that would be portrait lighting and wireless charging. If those things don’t matter to you, wait for the 10. The only things wrong with the iPhone 8 is that the iPhone X is just around the corner. And the iPhone 7 is very good. So even if you are interested in the iPhone 8, you should wait till you see the iPhone X before buying.