The iPhone X appears to be a runaway hit, judging by supply that dried up soon after launch and the long lines outside its stores. Apple’s tenth-anniversary iPhone is well-received by critics too and fortunately hasn’t faced any major complaints, unlike Google’s Pixel 2 XL smartphone.
Not too long ago, we shed light on some of the subtle advantages of using an iPhone X over an iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus. Towards the end, we concluded that if you’re already convinced on spending $799 on an iPhone 8 Plus, you should just spend some more and get the $999 iPhone X.
So is the iPhone X better than the iPhone 8 Plus in every way? Unfortunately not.
Although we personally recommend picking up the X over the 8 Plus, it’s fair to highlight the advantages of the latter over the former. So here are five scenarios where the iPhone 8 Plus is better than the iPhone X.
1. More Viewable Content Area
There’s a general misconception that since the iPhone X has a 5.8-inch display, it should display more content than the relatively-smaller 5.5-inch display on the iPhone 8 Plus. That’s actually not the case. To explain, let’s rewind to 2012 when Apple launched the iPhone 5. It was the first time the company increased the size of an iPhone display to 4 inches (all previous iPhones had 3.5-inch displays). The way it was done was by keeping the width of the display the same, and increasing the height instead. This made it easier for app developers to rework their apps to fit the taller display, all while retaining one-handed usability.
A couple of years later, Apple did increase the width of their phones with the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus. The same form has been retained on regular and Plus-sized versions of the iPhone 6s, iPhone 7 and this year’s iPhone 8. Essentially, the iPhone X has done to the iPhone 6 design what the iPhone 5 did to the iPhone 4s.
Meaning, the iPhone X retains the same width as the iPhone 8, but increases the height. The only difference this time around is that due to the removal of home button and the presence of a near-bezel-less display, the display size was upped from 4.7 inches to a whopping 5.8 inches. That’s how an iPhone X has nearly the same footprint of the smaller iPhone 8, but with a display larger than the iPhone 8 Plus.
But, iPhone X has the same 375 horizontal points of logical resolution like the iPhone 8. In comparison, the iPhone 8 Plus has a higher 414 point logical resolution. This means app developers have more area to either add more elements or stretch them further apart. In landscape mode, the iPhone X got a smaller viewable area than the iPhone 8 Plus, because of the narrower width. For example, take a look at iPhoneHacks.com when opened on the iPhone X and iPhone 8 Plus, and viewed in landscape.
Lastly, you also lose area on the X when the keyboard is open, as Apple added padding at the bottom presumably to prevent the keyboard from being placed too low. Apple may better utilise the area in future iOS versions, but for now it looks very blank with a lot of wasted space.
Bottom line — the iPhone X, despite having a “bigger” 5.8-inch display than the iPhone 8 Plus, may offer more viewability than the smaller iPhone 8, but not the 8 Plus.
2. Longer Battery Life
The iPhone X has a 2,716mAh battery, which is a bit bigger than the iPhone 8 Plus’ 2,691mAh battery, and both are powered by the same A11 system-on-chip. But there are several factors that result in the iPhone 8 Plus coming on top when it comes to battery life. For one, the iPhone X features a sharper, higher-resolution display that’s HDR and Dolby Vision compatible. The OLED technology used in this phone is typically more power efficient, but not when showing white-coloured content on the screen. In fact, showing white content on an OLED screen consumes more power than an LCD. Since iOS 11 itself as well as most apps and websites mostly use a white background, this affects the battery negatively. You can see the big impact on battery when using a white and dark content on an iPhone X in the video below.
Next, we’ve got Face ID on the iPhone X that uses an array of sensors like an infrared camera, a flood illuminator and a dot projector every time you want to use the phone. Firing up these sensors tens or even hundreds of times each day ought to use more battery than the Touch ID fingerprint sensor on the iPhone 8 Plus. Lastly, the mechanically-stabilized telephoto lens or the TrueDepth front-facing camera would also end up drawing more power when clicking photos from the either cameras.
Test results amply show the difference — in GSMArena’s tests the iPhone 8 Plus lasts nearly 3 hours longer than the iPhone X in web-browsing and video playback. Apple’s official page also suggest the iPhone 8 Plus will last an hour longer in those scenarios. Interestingly, the smaller iPhone 8 ended up running 1.5 hours more than the iPhone X in web-browsing, presumably because of the OLED screen battery consumption mentioned above. But during video playback, the iPhone X even with its superior display lasted 1.5 hours longer than the iPhone 8.
What we can conclude from this is, considering mixed usage (since nobody will only watch videos or only browse the web for that long), the iPhone X should last longer than an iPhone 8, but most likely not as long as the iPhone 8 Plus.
3. Cheaper to Repair if Broken
Several drop tests suggest that the iPhone X is a delicate darling, as the glass tends to crack in the first couple of drops on a hard surface. Should such an unfortunate instance happen to you, expect to shell out more to repair that iPhone X than the iPhone 8 Plus.
For example, if you crack the back of the phone, or it suffers from liquid damage, you’ll need to shell out $549 for repairs at Apple authorised service providers in the US. Comparatively, similar repairs on the iPhone 8 Plus will cost $399. If you break your iPhone X screen, that’ll set you back by $279, whereas a broken iPhone 8 Plus screen will set you back by $169.
In countries where AppleCare+ extended warranty with accidental damage protection is available, the cost of screen repairs and other damages for all iPhones is the same (at $29 and $99 respectively per incident). But remember that the iPhone X AppleCare+ is priced higher at $199, while the iPhone 8 Plus’ is at $149.
At the end of the day, an accidental damage to an iPhone 8 Plus will be lighter on your wallet than the iPhone X.
4. Face ID vs Touch ID
Face ID works seamlessly as you don’t have to move your finger on a scanner to unlock the phone; it proactively authenticates in the background. Although appears to be more convenient, there are some cases where it isn’t. For instance, when resting on a table, you can quickly unlock an iPhone 8 Plus by placing your finger on the Touch ID scanner. In the case of the iPhone X, you’ll need to pick up the phone or bend over enough that your face gets scanned by the Face ID system (or enter the passcode).
5. No Notch-Related Issues
The notch on the iPhone X has been a topic of controversy, as people dislike the appearance of the cutout that houses several components on the top of the display. But aesthetics aside, there are certain nuanced disadvantages to the notch. For one, since the status bar has a smaller area, it doesn’t display things like the battery percentage. To see the numeric value, you’ll need to swipe down on the right ear and summon Control Center. Also, there are no visual cues that tell if things like lock rotation or do not disturb are on.
Next, using the iPhone X in landscape doesn’t make full use of the real estate; websites get pillarboxed to avoid content from hiding behind the notch.
iPhone X renders webpages with literal white bars on the sides pic.twitter.com/ztcWetrLPo
— @firstname.lastname@example.org (@thomasfuchs) September 13, 2017
You can also use apps like Mail, Messages etc in split screen mode on the iPhone 8 Plus. So in the Mail app, instead of going back to the list view to check a new mail, you can now tap on the new mail in the list view to the left. In the Mail app, you can also access the swipe gestures to mark an email as read, to delete or archive it or flag the email for followup in the list view. It’s a lot more productive way of using apps like Mail, Messages etc.
So, are these issues valid enough to reconsider your purchase decision? Let’s discuss in the comments below.