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iPhone 8 vs. iPhone 8 Plus: The main differences between Apple's 2017 flagships

If you're eyeing Apple's 2017 flagship phones, here's which one you should pick.

Lynn_La2.jpg
Lynn_La2.jpg
Lynn La Senior Editor / Reviews - Phones
Lynn La covers mobile reviews and news. She previously wrote for The Sacramento Bee, Macworld and The Global Post.
Lynn La
4 min read
$449 at Amazon
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8.4
Apple iPhone 8

Like

  • The iPhone 8 offers wireless charging, lightning-fast performance and small but solid upgrades to its camera, screen and speakers
  • Its starting storage size is a roomy 64GB, double that of the iPhone 7.

Don't like

  • This phone has the same pedestrian design, missing headphone jack and battery life as the iPhone 7 -- and no dual camera either
  • The iPhone 8 costs a bit more than baseline new iPhones in years past, and comes only in black, silver and a new shade of gold.
$336 at Back Market
iPhone 8 Plus
8.8
Apple iPhone 8 Plus

Like

  • Fantastic dual-lens camera shoots better than ever with improved portrait mode
  • Adds wireless charging
  • Fast speed
  • Starts at 64GB
  • Best battery life in the current iPhone line
  • Still has a home button if that's important to you.

Don't like

  • Dated look
  • Lacks some of the extra iPhone X camera features
  • Large body makes it hard to hold.

If you're looking for a new iPhone at the lowest price possible, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus from 2017 are viable options. (They're still so viable, in fact, that the US Census Bureau used the iPhone 8 to conduct the 2020 Census.) Though Apple discontinued selling them, you can still nab the devices from third-party retailers like Walmart and Best Buy. Prices will vary depending on the retailer and the phone's model and capacity, but from what we've seen so far, the iPhone 8 (64GB) averages about $350 and the iPhone 8 Plus (64GB) averages about $450. You can get them refurbished for about $100 less. (You tend to only see refurbished or "renewed" stock in the UK and Australia, starting at about £260 or AU$400 for the iPhone 8, and £430 or AU$600 for the iPhone 8 Plus.)

Unlike current iPhones, the iPhone 8 phones sport an intuitive home button and familiar design. If those are the main draw for you though, we suggest the iPhone SE 2020. Like the iPhone 8, it doesn't have a headphone jack, but as the newer phone, it has better hardware, more software support and a more robust Apple return policy and trade-in value. (For more information, read our comparison piece, iPhone SE vs. iPhone 8: The differences that matter to the budget-conscious.)

Nevertheless, if you are committed to an iPhone 8, but don't know which model you should get, we'll walk you through their main differences to help you make a more informed decision.

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Watch this: iPhone 8, 8 Plus or X: Which should you get?
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Sarah Tew/CNET

At about $100 cheaper than the iPhone 8 Plus, we prefer the iPhone 8 largely due to the money you'll save. Though its screen isn't as big and sharp as the iPhone 8 Plus, nor does it have a telephoto lens, for most people the iPhone 8 has enough to satisfy your most casual phone needs. But if you do have more money to spend, we once again suggest the newer iPhone SE, which starts at $399 (£419 and AU$749). At about $50 more you'll get a better camera, a faster processor and dual-SIM capabilities.

Read our Apple iPhone 8 review.

iPhone 8 Plus
Sarah Tew/CNET

If you prioritize having a bigger screen to watch videos or play games, and a telephoto camera to capture beautiful portrait shots of your friends and family, then go for the iPhone 8 Plus. Everything else about the phone though, except for a slightly longer battery life (and the additional $100 price tag), is pretty much the same as the iPhone 8.

Read our Apple iPhone 8 Plus review.

iPhone 8 and 8 Plus design: Choose your size

As counterparts to one another, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus look nearly identical, except for the fact that the iPhone 8 Plus is bigger and has a higher resolution. It has a 5.5-inch, 1080p LCD display while the iPhone 8 has a 4.7-inch, 750p screen. 

Despite the obvious size difference though, you still have to consider how the size will affect your everyday interaction with the phone. If you have a smaller grip, for example, the iPhone 8 is more comfortable to hold and fits into pockets easier. If you watch a lot of video and play games, the larger iPhone 8 Plus is more immersive. And even though you might not be able to discern it with the naked eye, given the iPhone 8 Plus' greater resolution and pixel density, images are a tad sharper (at least on paper anyway).

Other than that though, the devices are similar. They come in three colors (white, black and gold), but phones this old means limited inventory, so retailers may stock fewer options. They are both water resistant and have wireless charging. But they also don't have headphone jacks and -- instead of swiping gestures for navigating or Face ID, like in newer phones -- they have a physical home button that houses the fingerprint reader. 

Apple's glassy iPhone 8 is all glossed up

See all photos

iPhone 8 Plus' second telephoto camera

While both phones have the same 12-megapixel standard camera with the same f1.8 aperture, only the 8 Plus has a second telephoto camera. With this second camera you can take portrait shots with a depth-of-field, bokeh effect that adds a lot of drama. Apple also added five lighting tools that you can apply to portraits, which include studio and stage lighting.

In addition to portraits, the telephoto camera adds some extra zoom. While the iPhone 8 only has digital zoom up to 5x, the telephoto offers a clearer 2x telephoto or optical zoom that does not degrade the photo's quality. The iPhone 8 Plus' digital zoom also goes up to 10x.

How the iPhone 8 Plus sees San Francisco

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iPhone 8 and 8 Plus battery

Because the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus both have the Apple A11 Bionic processor, expect them to perform as reliably and quickly as each other. As for their batteries, Apple never releases those specs, but third-party teardowns have reported that the iPhone 8 has a 1,821-mAh battery and the 8 Plus has a 2,675-mAh battery. The phones clocked in similar times for our lab tests for continuous video playback on Airplane mode. The iPhone 8 lasted 13.5 hours while the 8 Plus lasted slightly longer at 13.75 hours. All in all, expect similar battery lives for both phones.

iPhone 8, 8 Plus and SE spec comparison


iPhone 8iPhone 8 PlusApple iPhone SE (2020)
Display size, resolution 4.7-inch; 1,334x750 pixels5.5-inch; 1,920x1,080 pixels4.7-inch; 1,334x750 pixels
Pixel density 326 ppi401 ppi326 ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 5.45x2.65x0.29 in6.24x3.07x0.3 in5.45x2.65x0.29 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 138.4x67.3x7.3 mm158.4x78.1x7.5 mm138x67x7.3 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 5.22 oz; 148g7.13 oz; 202g5.22 oz; 148g
Mobile software iOS 11, can update to iOS 13iOS 11, can update to iOS 13iOS 13
Camera 12-megapixel (wide-angle)12-megapixel (wide-angle), 12-megapixel (telephoto)12-megapixel (wide-angle)
Front-facing camera 7-megapixel7-megapixel7-megapixel
Video capture 4K4K4K
Processor Apple A11 BionicApple A11 BionicApple A13 Bionic
Storage 64GB, 128GB, 256GB64GB, 128GB, 256GB64GB, 128GB, 256GB
RAM 2GB3GBNot disclosed
Expandable storage NoneNoneNone
Battery 1,821 mAh (Apple doesn't confirm this)2,675 mAh (Apple doesn't confirm this)1,821 mAh (Apple doesn't confirm this)
Fingerprint sensor Home buttonHome buttonHome button
Connector LightningLightningLightning
Headphone jack NoNoNo
Special features Water resistant (IP67); wireless chargingWater-resistant (IP67); wireless chargingWater resistant (IP67); dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM); wireless charging