I really liked my iPhone X.
For about a year, I was on Apple’s bleeding edge: I used Face ID to unlock my phone, I swiped up to change apps, and I generally enjoyed what Apple said was the “future of the smartphone.”
Then, in September, my iPhone X got stolen, and faced with the possibility of a $US1,000 replacement, I downgraded.
A colleague had a spare iPhone 8 I could borrow. After getting a new SIM card for free from my carrier, I popped it into the iPhone 8, and it’s been my companion for the past month.
It turns out, I sort of like it more than my iPhone X. In fact, I’ve been debating what phone to get to replace my lost iPhone X, and I might decide not to buy this year’s new models – the iPhone XS and iPhone XR – and get an iPhone 8, which was released in 2017 and has the same basic design as iPhones released in 2014.
It appears that the market may be saying the same thing. Several reports over the past week suggest that Apple’s iPhone XR isn’t selling as well as the company expected, and that Apple is cutting back production of the new model and increasing the number of iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus units it’s making.
After spending over a month with the iPhone 8, I’m not surprised.
The iPhone 8 is lighter than the iPhone X or XS.
According to Apple, the iPhone 8 weighs 148 grams. The iPhone X weights 174 grams – or about 17% more, and the XS is a little heavier at 177 grams. On a daily basis, I could really feel the difference, and I appreciated the lighter phone.
Touch ID is just as good as Face ID.
The other big difference between the iPhone X and the iPhone 8 is that the more expensive phone uses Apple’s Face ID face scanning to unlock the phone.
I liked Face ID, and I didn’t have many problems, except sometimes when checking it in bed or with certain sunglasses.
But the humble fingerprint sensor on the iPhone still works great, and the satisfying haptic feeling you get when you press it can’t be replicated on the iPhone X.
Honestly, it’s a toss-up between Face ID and Touch ID for me. But that also means I’m not willing to pay extra for face-scanning security on my phone.
The iPhone 8 is just as fast as the iPhone X and can run all the same apps.
The iPhone X is a powerful phone, but the iPhone 8 is its equal – in fact, Apple says they share the same A11 chip.
Since they both run iOS, the iPhone 8 can download all the same apps that the iPhone X or XS can.
I do miss out on some fancy camera-related stuff, like Animoji and portrait mode (which is available on the 8 Plus), but it’s not a deal-breaker.
I didn’t really need the extra screen space on the iPhone X.
I get that Apple’s designers want the phone to look like a “single sheet of glass,” but in practice, I didn’t use the edge-to-edge screen that much.
When you’re using the keyboard on the iPhone X, for example, a whole section of the bottom of the phone just shows grey, like in the picture above.
And on the top, content is obscured by the iPhone’s notorious notch.
I didn’t really mind the extra screen space, but I’ve come to realise I don’t need it. Going back to an older phone didn’t really feel like going into the past, as happens sometimes with older gadgets.
It’s not all perfect though. The iPhone X had better battery life, and I miss that.
Apple says that the iPhone X has a longer battery life than the iPhone 7 (and iPhone 8) by about two hours. The bigger phone can support a bigger battery.
In my usage, that feels about right, and often, that’s the difference between charge anxiety and feeling great about my power levels at the end of a day.
But since the iPhone 8 still supports wireless charging, it’s easy to simply put my phone on my charging pads at home and the office, and that helps me stay topped off throughout the day.
I also miss the zoom lens on the back of the iPhone X.
The iPhone X has two lenses on its rear camera, including a lens that has a 56 mm equivalent. It’s great – I tended to use it as my main camera to get closer to the subject. I wish it were the camera on the back of the iPhone 8.
However, the camera on the back of the iPhone 8 is still great. It’s good enough to take photos for a blog post for work, for example.
So what phone should I get to replace my old device? It might come down to price.
Apple sells the iPhone 8 for $US599 with 64 GB of storage, which is usually enough for me.
If I wanted a real bargain, I could get a refurbished iPhone 8 for $US499, when they come back in stock.
Apple’s iPhone XR starts at $US750, which is significantly more. It has Apple’s Face ID security system and better battery life, but it also lacks the zoom lens I like.
Apple no longer makes the iPhone X. If I wanted to replace my old phone with a similar device, I’d have to get an iPhone XS, which costs $US999 and has a few updates, including a faster processor. The iPhone XS will have nearly everything I had with the iPhone X, but it costs nearly 40% more than a new iPhone 8.
I usually recommend people buy the most expensive phone they can afford, given the time you spend on it every day. But since I ended up liking the iPhone 8 as much as I liked my iPhone X, I might end up saving the money and putting it towards my next computer purchase.