As a User Experience Designer, I’m very critical about the user interfaces I use on a daily basis. Apple devices have always been on the top of my list in terms of providing me with pleasant and seamless user experiences. It’s mainly why I ditched my previous Galaxy S6 Edge for my current iPhone 6S.
With the release of the iPhone 8 a few weeks ago, I was tempted to follow the crowd and go for the upgrade. However, after looking at the specs and online reviews, I don’t think the changes are worth the $800+ price tag.
Design: Return of the Glass
The iPhone 8 comes with a glass back that is similar to the iPhone 4/4S. Aesthetically, I prefer the aluminum backing of the previous models. Economically, I’m turned off by the glass back since it’s fragile and is just another piece of the iPhone that would need replacing. My iPhone 6S has held up after multiple drops, but I’m not sure if the iPhone 8 would be as durable.
This model follows the iPhone 7’s footsteps in that it doesn’t include a headphone jack. I always considered this a con since I would often switch my headphones back-and-forth between my iPhone and MacBook. If I were to upgrade to the iPhone 8, I would have to carry the adapter around just so I can use my headphones.
Display: Neglible Changes
The new iPhone boasts an all-new retina display and color improvements, but after comparing it side-by-side with my iPhone 6S, the only improvements I noticed are the slightly crisper picture and marginally bolder colors. I’m not sure what type of users would need these additions (professional photographers, maybe?), but a casual user like me can make do without them.
Performance: A Luxury, But Not A Necessity
I did a quick “performance test” by opening the same apps on each iPhone side-by-side, and I didn’t notice much of a difference in performance except for when I opened the Camera app. The Camera app did open ~0.25 seconds faster on the iPhone 8, but the difference is negligible. I’m sure the new processor speed can only be noticed when the iPhone is loading a lot of content and using a lot of resources. My typical usage doesn’t require lightning fast performance so this improvement doesn’t affect me.
Camera: Better for Selfies
On paper, the iPhone 8 includes a few camera improvements (better camera sensor and image stabilization) and more MPs in the front camera. I take pictures from time to time – mostly during travel – so I don’t really see the necessity of a better camera sensor. The 7MP front camera is good for vacation selfies, but the selfies taken by my iPhone 6S are already pretty good. I’m all for nicer-looking selfies, but with an $800 price tag, I think I’ll settle for my 5MP selfies.
Battery: Arrival of Wireless Charging
There is a slight increase in battery life for most things because the new processor is supposedly more power efficient. My iPhone’s battery life seems to have been deteriorating over the past two years, but it’s still decent. I don’t use enough battery charge to need a larger battery so I’m pretty content with the iPhone 6S battery life.
The new feature that is worth considering the iPhone 8 is the wireless charging. Android users have been taking advantage of wireless charging for the past few years so I was wondering when Apple would finally grace us this feature. I guess it took Apple four years to hop on the wireless charging train.
Storage: Want More, Pay More
When I purchased my iPhone 6S, I was given a choice of 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB. This allowed me to select the storage option that fit my usage profile. The iPhone 8 only has two options: 64GB and 256GB. I understand that mobile apps are taking up more memory as they become more sophisticated, but I don’t like how Apple is limiting users to those two options and not providing an in-between (128GB) option. If you need anything more than 64GB, expect to pay $150+ more.
Conclusion: Notable Improvements, But Not Worth Price Tag
From the faster performance to the better front camera, there are some notable improvements that are worth looking into the iPhone 8. The wireless charging is the most enticing feature that would get me to seriously consider upgrading. However, my iPhone 6S is still keeping up with all the apps that are out in the market today, so until I notice a considerable drop in performance during my daily use, I don’t think the upgrade would be worth it.