in tech

Why I’m getting an iPhone 8 Plus and not an iPhone X

I’m typically a fan of buying the newest/latest/best, so I was psyched to see Apple’s presentation of its newest suite of smartphones this past week. Going in, there was much chatter about an “iPhone X” that would feature a larger screen than the iPhone 7, but in a smaller body than the iPhone 7 Plus.

As usual, Apple delivered in a big way when it came to sparking online conversation about its products. But for the first time in awhile, I struggled with the decision on whether to go in for its top-of-the-line phone (you can read feature comparisons here and here, and a neat MKBHD video here). After a lot of deliberation, I’ve decided to go with the iPhone 8 Plus. Here are some reasons why.

Most of the specs for the two phones are the same

The processors. The rear-facing camera. The wireless charging. They’re all identical in both phones. For me, the primary differences are the front-facing camera (which supports Face  ID and animoji in the iPhone X), the iPhone X’s OLED screen, and the fact that the iPhone X screen is taller by a few pixels. Additionally, I believe the iPhone X’s secondary telephoto lens has a slightly better aperture than that of the iPhone 8 Plus. If these sound like compelling upgrades to you, then the iPhone X is definitely the phone for you. But for me, they weren’t enough to justify the additional $200+ on the price tag.

On that note…

Think of the compromises

The iPhone X completely re-imagines the paradigm of how users interact with their smartphones. Face ID replaces Touch ID as how people unlock their phones. There is no more home button — instead, everything is driven by new gestures.

I have no doubt that Face ID will one day be the new standard by which all forms of biometric authentication are measured. I also think that one day it’s likely we will look at phones like the iPhone 8 and wonder how we ever dealt with a barbaric, massive bezel “chin” like that, whose only purpose was to house a home button in the center. But for now, those features feel purposeful and useful to me.

Due to screen size, one-handed operation would be too challenging with the iPhone X for me. The iPhone X requires you to swipe down from the top right for control center. Right now, I can unlock my iPhone before I even look at it, and/or swipe up from the bottom to quickly get to control center. These are actions I perform dozens of times a day without thinking about them, and I simply won’t be able to do those things with the iPhone X.

The iPhone 8 Plus still has better battery life

It’s supposed to last slightly longer than the iPhone X at a couple of primary tasks. Since battery life is one of the most important features for me in a smartphone, this almost swung the decision single-handedly.

The Notch

Maybe one day “The Notch” will be like vertical video — something we used to hate but is no so ubiquitous that most people don’t give a crap anywhere. For now though, it looks pretty terrible.

  • DaanishSyed

    Totally agree, Im going to go with the 8 as well. I have a 5s and was planning on upgrading this year, so I was looking forward to what they had to show. Pretty unimpressed. I know it’s easy to say something snarky like “Steve Jobs would have had lost his mind”, etc., but when you see that ridiculous slide of their line-up and of the SE, 6s, 7, 8, X, with confusing (and sometimes marginal) differences, I think it’s pretty evident that this is not the clear and thoughtful design philosophy that won over so many Apple fans in the last decade. That tweet about weighing trade-offs absolutely nails it.

  • AEdouard

    You missed the X’s biggest advantage: its display to phone size ratio. The X is much smaller and lighter than an iPhone 8 Plus. It’s much easier to fit in your pocket, it’s not unweildy. And Apple keeps making the Plus heavier. It went from around 170g for the 6 to 200g+ with the 8. Yes, I realize it’s not 100 lbs, but when you use it all day, it’s nice to have a light, small decice with a large display.

  • Luke Johnson

    I hadn’t thought of this yet … “The iPhone X requires you to swipe down from the top right for control center. Right now, I can […] swipe up from the bottom to quickly get to control center. These are actions I perform dozens of times a day without thinking about them”

    First thing that’s had me questioning my decision to go for the X. Still going X, though, I think.

  • Johnny Pompeii

    I’m with you on this decision. Already ordered my 8+. In addition to some of the things you said, I don’t trust Apple’s manufacturing pipeline as much these days to bring such a radically new and technologically advanced product to market with a great degree of reliability baked in. I suspect a higher risk of bugs and malfunctions. One other thing is I’m trying to play through my head the use cases for how the designed each of the new processes and features and some of them just don’t really make a ton of sense – as in, “well the user will need to be able to accomplish ‘this’ task but the way they did it before no longer exists in the hardware so we need something else. Oh hell, let’s just squeeze it here.” That means it is going to need a lot of refinement which will make the next generation or two much better than this one, in my opinion. At that point, it will hypothetically make more sense to spend that money on this ‘X’ edition of the iphone.