Apple iPhone 8 review: Jedi Master Yoda
If one had to address the elephant in the room, then it would be resoundingly its design. In 3 years, the iPhone hasn't changed much visually from the outside. The obvious good thing here is familiarity. Everyone will be used to the size and design intricacies. The iPhone 8 represents the ultimate refinement of the design that was first introduced at the flint centre back in 2014 with the iPhone 6. By this I mean there is now a very strong glass back which makes the phone nicer to hold, hides all the antenna machinery that was earlier visible as a blemish, allows for wireless charging and generally adds to the visual appeal of the phone. Apple has also refined the chamfers around the rear camera lens', on the iPhone 8 Plus especially the gold and space grey models it looks nicer with a dual tone element.
The iPhone 8 models arguably age better than even Yoda and they still look classy. Apple remains one of the few hardware makers who make premium smartphones with LCD displays. The addition of the True Tone technology makes the panel on the iPhone even better and clearly Apple uses the best LCD displays around. These are very nice displays which showcase true to life colours with great brightness levels and good viewing angles. Be it watching Star Trek Discovery on Netflix or typing long emails, this is a fabulous screen which is further elevated by the gentle tactile feedback provided by Apple's 3D Touch technology and Taptic motor which is by far the best haptic feedback system found on a smartphone. You can touch and feel each and every pixel on an iPhone screen something that cannot be said for an Android smartphone.
Yoda was considered to be the most powerful force adept in the galaxy even in his old age. If anything with his experience and wisdom he was even more powerful. The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are no different, with the help of the new A11 Bionic chipset, they are by far the most powerful smartphones in the world. In fact, before the iPhone 8 models came along, the iPhone 7 Plus was arguably the fastest smartphone in the world and now Apple's lead has only increased. The iPhone 8 is crushingly fast in everything it does. It executes every command with utter ease without breaking a sweat and if benchmarks like GeekBench are referenced, shocking revelations come to light. The iPhone 8 is faster than the 2016 MacBook Pro 13-inch which has an Intel Core i5 processor. Suffice to say the iPhone 8 is perhaps the most powerful smartphone that's ever been made. It also blitzkriegs games with a new Apple designed GPU. Games like Modern Combat 3 look more like games on consoles like the PlayStation 4 than something on mobile and while doing so the phone doesn't break a sweat. If you remember Yoda's duel with Count Dooku, you'd remember with how much ease the ageing Jedi Master battled the dark lord of the Sith. It may look old but it has a lot of legs.
Of course, so much fire power is reserved for the fact that Apple is betting big on augmented reality and the iPhone 8 has hardware elements like cameras and processors to handle these use cases. If one plays around with AR apps on the App Store, you realise how smoothly the new iPhones manage to perform, leaving an Android phone like the Asus ZenFone AR, behind in dust.
The cameras on the new iPhones are also something special. DxOMark shortly rated them as the best smartphone cameras till the Google Pixel 2 was announced. That being said, these cameras are huge leaps over what's been there in the last few iPhones despite new features like the portrait mode.
The colour capture is excellent, with scary levels of accuracy. Apple has reduced the minimum focussing distance to an insane level and well the low light performance has received a much needed boost that now it is on par with a phone like the Pixel. The portrait mode on the larger iPhone 8 Plus is now even better — providing the most accurate bokeh that you'd see on a smartphone. Its zoom is also better. Portrait Lighting is a new feature which leverages the device's Jedi wizardry to give studio lighting effects and these look amazing. Thanks to iOS 11 one can also enable the flash in portrait mode.
Video takes arguably a bigger leap on the iPhone 8 Plus. It can shoot 4k video at 60 frames per second very well and 1080p video at 240 frames per second. It is astoundingly good at video and arguably is even better at capturing audio with its two microphones.
Yoda was an astoundingly fit Jedi Master with great fitness and longevity. The impression has been that the iPhone hasn't had the best battery life in the last couple of years, but this year, the iPhone 8 models have superb battery life. Despite smaller batteries than last year these phones easily would last more than a day and at times would even last more than a day and a half in the case of the larger iPhone 8 Plus.
Even the speakers on these new iPhones are louder and clearer offering one of the best audio packages around. Call quality too was stellar on the iPhone 8 models. I tested the phones on a Vodafone and Airtel SIM in Delhi NCR.
iOS 11 brings so many cool new tricks like the new control centre, a better keyboard more feature rich apps, an enhanced Siri and a vastly faster safari.
Like Yoda, these new iPhones may not seem like much and don't create a lot of buzz in terms of technology and innovations, but Apple has holistically enhanced the iPhone experience by a marked degree. It is only when you use this phone you will realise how good it is.
Yoda's form didn't allow him to do certain things well and he had to literally bend physics to his will to be a master of combat. The iPhone is straddled by its form. It is dated. Its bezels are humungous and the general weight and size of the iPhone 8 models is remarkably more than that of modern Android phones. If Yoda were taller he would've been a more formidable foe and perhaps not have lost the battle with Darth Sidious. If the iPhone 8 had smaller bezels it would've a larger screen which would've been much more immersive.
OLED technology for a display also sounds like an arcane step considering most new phones have it. OLED screens are nicer to look at, they allow the manufacturer to make a slimmer phone and generally are more power efficient enhancing battery life.
A sign of an old man is slow replenishment of his powers. When fully charged, like Yoda, the iPhone 8 is the most powerful phone around, however, the iPhone 8 isn't the fastest charging phone, and that's a bummer. One can buy an Apple branded faster charger or an Anker adaptor to mitigate, but why must one buy this separately when the phone starts at Rs 64,000. It is not that wireless charging is faster, in fact it is slower.
Last but not the least is the price of the iPhone 8. Topping out at Rs 86,000 for the 256GB iPhone 8 Plus and starting at Rs 64,000 it is out the reach of the common man, just like access to people like the Jedi's was restricted to famous people and members of the Republic's senate.
Should you buy it?
Since the new iPhones are so expensive, the question isn't about buying an iPhone over an Android phone, but rather it is about which iPhone to buy. The iPhone 8 Plus, the ageing Yoda, or the iPhone X, the new incoming Luke Skywalker. The iPhone 8 models could be the last of their kind, and those who want the functional simplicity of the older design should opt for it, however, if you want to hedge bets on the young gun then it has to be the iPhone X. Regardless, the iPhone 8 is like Jedi Master Yoda, who isn't just loved by many, it is revered and still considered to be the benchmark for what and how a Jedi should be like.