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Apple iPhone 8 Plus review:

iPhone X power in a friendly, familiar package

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The Good Fantastic dual-lens camera shoots better than ever with improved portrait mode. Adds wireless charging. Lightning-fast speed. Starts at 64GB.

The Bad Dated design. Lacks some of the extra iPhone X camera features. Large body makes it hard to hold.

The Bottom Line The iPhone 8 Plus is a great phone with a spectacular camera that offers a lot of what iPhone X has under the hood, but in a lot less exciting body.

CNET Editors' Rating

8.8 Overall
  • Design 8.0
  • Features 9.0
  • Performance 10.0
  • Camera 9.0

The 8 Plus isn't "the best iPhone you can buy," as the larger Plus phones have been since Apple started its "regular and extra large" iPhone releases in 2014. And it's no longer the only big-screen iPhone. The iPhone X is a step above the 8 Plus in a lot of ways, with some extra camera features, a great size-to-body ratio, a vivid OLED display, and a surprisingly functional Face ID camera that replaces the home button. Of course, it's also more expensive.

But, don't sleep on the 8 Plus. The 8 Plus feels a lot bigger than the compact X, and its design has barely changed from previous iPhone Plus models. But its powerful performance, still-excellent cameras, and roomy, standard-shaped screen -- which maximizes all existing iPhone apps and includes a few iPad-like features not available on the X -- makes it the old-school, "get it done" veteran of Apple's iPhone lineup.

2017 iPhone pricing (64GB, 256GB)


US UK Australia
iPhone 8 $699, $849 £699, £849 AU$1,079, AU$1,329
iPhone 8 Plus $799, $949 £799, £949 AU$1,229, AU$1,479
iPhone X $999, $1,149 £999, £1,149 AU$1,579, AU$1,829
iPhone 8 Plus

Wireless charging: Qi for now, Apple's own AirPower in 2018.

Sarah Tew/CNET

This big, capable phone includes all of the features of the smaller iPhone 8 ($699.00 at Apple) -- including wireless charging, the True Tone screen and that same superfast A11 Bionic processor you'll find in the X. But, like last year's iPhone 7 Plus ($894.99 at Amazon.com), you get a larger 5.5-inch screen, water resistance and -- most critically -- an excellent dual rear camera with 2x optical zoom, upgraded for 2017 with an all-new image sensor. That camera, already great a year ago, has gotten even more refined and fantastic-looking. In the weeks since the 8 Plus release, it's impressed both CNET Senior Photographer James Martin and me. And while the camera on the iPhone X is a bit better, the difference is more one of inches than miles, as Lexy Savvides and Vanessa Hand Orellana found in their deep-dive comparison.

While the upgrades for existing 7 Plus owners are minimal (beyond wireless charging), the 8 Plus is worth the premium over the 8 to get the dual cameras, larger display, and a battery life that still beats out the iPhone X. It feels like a large workhorse next to the iPhone X, a traditional phone... but a powerful one. And, perhaps, one that some will prefer over the X.

iPhone 8 Plus

Dual cameras: Mostly the same on the outside, better processing inside.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Now that I've lived with both phones for weeks, I prefer the more hand-friendly iPhone X. But I think the 8 Plus is still a fantastic package, and a great chance to get onboard with Apple's newest processors without making the full move (financially and ergonomically) to Apple's new iPhone designs.

Editors' note: This review has been updated since the original version that published on Sept. 19 to add extensive comparisons of the iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X, as well as photo comparisons to the Pixel 2. 

iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone X

The iPhone 8 (left) and iPhone 8 Plus (right) flanking the iPhone X (center).

Sarah Tew/CNET

Design: Once again (mostly) the same

To reiterate: The iPhone 8 Plus has all of the same basic features as the new iPhone 8, except for its larger size, slightly better battery life (in our everyday real-life use) and better cameras. If you want a deeper dive into those main new details of the 2017 iPhones, check out our iPhone 8 review.

As far as the Plus design goes, it's deja vu all over again. The iPhone 8 Plus looks identical to the 7 Plus, but it does feel different, thanks to a move to a glossy glass back. Apple's construction process this time uses stronger aluminum body accents, steel reinforcement inside and metal highlights around the camera lens. There are only three colors this time: white with silver highlights, glossy black and space gray, and a blush pink-like gold that feels rose-goldish.

Camera: Stellar shots, even better video

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 ($921.08 at Amazon.com) is a great camera. The new Pixel 2 is a great camera. Apple used to have an untouchable lead in camera quality, but now many phones take excellent photos. And that's why Apple has once again raised the bar on its camera. 

iPhone 8 Plus

Portrait Lighting is a new mode that adds simulated lighting effects. Sometimes it's amazing. Sometimes not.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The 8 Plus includes a new sensor and image signal processor to go with its new A11 Bionic chip, promising richer colors, better low-light shots and faster autofocus. My photos generally turned out great. Low-light gains aren't as dramatic as I expected compared to the already excellent iPhone 7 Plus, but the photos I've been taking have generally looked phenomenal.

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Portrait Mode, which debuted last year, now supports flash photography and HDR (on the 7 Plus, too, with iOS 11). The 8 Plus and the X add a new photo technique called Portrait Lighting, a beta feature that adds simulated 3D lighting to faces and even strips out backgrounds to create a studio-shot effect. My mileage varied: Sometimes the effect was stunning, but other times it looked very fake and weirdly clipped. I wouldn't upgrade my phone for it, but it can be fun to toy with. It will undoubtedly get better.

Stage Light Mono effect in Portrait Mode. Originally this was an office background.

Scott Stein/CNET

At sunset around my home, comparison shots between the 7 Plus and 8 Plus weren't that easy to tell apart until it was nearly dark. The new slow-syncing flash that promises richer flash photos didn't have a huge impact for me so far, but I need to keep trying it out. But see for yourself: the camera takes damn good photos, and colors do seem enhanced. That can also mean more details. HDR was improved when shooting sun-drenched clouds.

As I mentioned, James Martin used the Plus, too, and as a professional photographer is maybe even more impressed than I am. Instead of new lenses or a really different hardware camera, the software and processing inside are making the photos better. He was impressed by the low noise in low-light photos, the color rendering and the texture representation. 

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