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Anki Overdrive - Fast and Furious Edition

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Huawei P10

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2018 Toyota C-HR

Apple iPhone 8 Plus

Nomad leather case for iPhone 8 Plus

Alcatel A50

Tile Pro Sport smart tracker

27-inch Apple iMac with Retina 5K Display

Anki Cozmo programmable robot

Microsoft Surface Laptop

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Google Home

Sennheiser HD-1 in ear wireless headphones

Motorola Moto E4

Apple iPad Pro 10.5-inch

BlackBerry KEYone

Philips Hue Smart Lighting System

insta360 nano 360 camera for iPhone

2017 Cadillac CT6 Luxury

UAG Rugged Case for Surface Book

Motorola Moto G5

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

2017 Chrysler Pacifica

2017 Cadillac XT5 Platinum

2017 Jaguar F-Pace

Linksys VELOP Whole Home Mesh Network

Fitbit Alta HR

2016 Range Rover

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Timex IQ+ Move fitness tracking watch

2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

2017 Mazda CX-9 Signature

2016 Mazda MX-5

Sennheiser PXC-550 Bluetooth headphones

2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 4MATIC Sedan

Sudio Regent Bluetooth headphones

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier

VisionTek SoundTube PRO Bluetooth speaker

Fitbit Charge 2

2017 GMC Acadia Denali

Apple AirPods

Apple MacBook Pro (Late 2016)

808

Game of Thrones Season Six Blu-Ray

Michelin Premier all-season tires

Tom Tom Spark 3 Cardio +

Google Daydream View VR headset

ASUS ZenBook 3

Jaybird X3

JBL SoundBoost Speaker Moto Mod

Moto Insta-Share Projector for Moto Z

Google Pixel XL

Apalon's My Alarm Clock app

Lenovo Moto Z

Apple Watch Series 2 and watchOS 3

iOS 10

« Spotify’s new personalized playlist is a blast from your musical past | Main | A Microsoft Surface Pro with LTE is coming this year »
Thursday
Sep282017

Review: Apple iPhone 8 Plus 

Text and photos by Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla

iPhone 8 Plus feels substantially more powerful and quicker than most top tier Android competitorsIt smokes the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 in everything from loading videos and websites, as well as simply navigating and moving from app to app.

Apple's iPhone 8 Plus may look like more of the same in terms of large smartphone dimensions, but the real significance of this update is under the hood and in the updated cameras.

The iPhone 8 Plus is the fourth large-format smartphone from Apple and it retains the same dimensions as the iPhone 7 Plus. A fact that multiple case and accessory makers have happily declared.

While it features the same 5.5-inch display that's made the jumbo iPhone the go-to device for iOS users who want to supersize, there are some surprises. The true-tone display that's been an iPad Pro exclusive feature now appears on iPhones 8 and iPhone 8 Plus.



This makes it possible for the display to adapt to current lighting conditions based on ambient lighting. So, reading, watching videos and looking at images is much better.

iPhone 8s are also a bit of a throwback to the iPhone 4 which, for many, is still considered the best design Apple's done, until now.

The iPhone 8 has a glass back that's exquisitely blended into the stainless steel frame. The glass, which is the strongest and most resilient shipped on a smartphone, as per what Apple says, is there for a reason.


This feature enables wireless charging, or more accurately, charging via a Qi standard wireless charger. This means that plugging in a Lightning adaptor is no longer the only way to help the iPhone get charged. Qi has been around for some time, so there is an abundance of third party Qi chargers. We bought an Anker charger and it works great but is nowhere as fast as plugging in.

The new glass design looks premium and it feels exquisite. My gold review unit is a source of constant wonderment as the shades and the colour shifts depending on the ambient light.

I still love the look and feel of my iPhone 7 Plus jet black device. It is likewise super sleek and feels supremely integrated and is even slightly lighter than the iPhone 8 Plus.
Being on iOS 11 makes it easier than ever to transfer from an older iPhone to a newer one thanks to Automatic Setup which, similar to how you pair an Apple Watch, makes synching between devices easier.



Under the shiny hood is some powerhouse silicon. The Apple A11 Bionic chip is a hexacore beast. Combined with the the iPhone 8 Plus' 3 GB of RAM and all the refinements of iOS, it has been known to match benchmarks of recent MacBook Pros.

What Apple has managed to do with its own silicon is nothing short of miraculous. The A11 Bionic processor may sound like marketing babble in name, but this is a serious processor and one that makes iPhone 8 Plus the most performant smartphone in the market right now.

iPhone 8 Plus feels substantially more powerful and quicker than most top tier Android competitors. It smokes the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 in everything from loading videos and websites as well as simply navigating and moving from app to app.

Consider the competition is boasting octa-core processors and more RAM, its a testament to Apple's hardware, software and silicon synergy that the iPhone 8 Plus soars past competitors in performance.

Of course, iPhone and Android comparisons aren't apples to apples accurate, but having spent a lot of time with these devices, the iPhone 8 Plus simply dominates similar top-tier phones. I expect the iPhone 8 is no slouch either.

Along with wireless charging and a powerful new processor, the iPhone 8 Plus' camera plus the updated camera software merits a lot of attention.

Apple has made photography a cornerstone of the iPhone line and, as evidenced by their aggressive 'Shot on iPhone' campaigns, they've made the iPhone 8 Plus's camera nothing short of spectacular.


We have the same dual-camera combination as the iPhone 7 Plus, but the new processor as well as software enable it to do so much more. The unparalleled shot-to-shot performance is still blazing fast, but now there's fewer blurred photos, more detailed captures and hyper accurate image reproduction.

Last year's portrait mode, which used the dual-camera array to replicate the blurred background 'bokeh' effects now goes next level with portrait lighting.

Portrait Lighting outputs various options for dramatic effect


Using a mix of camera hardware and software, the iPhone 8 Plus can now replicate various studio lighting conditions to isolate the subject as well as add various effects. This is a lot of fun and bring another reason for photographers to rely more on the iPhone for more serious photography. 

 

The Portrait Lighting is still in beta, so it is far from complete but the promise is definitely there. Not only can you now shot one great portrait, you can output it in various styles.

 

Even if you never use these features, the iPhone 8 Plus's camera performance is mind-boggling. A shot I took above was done with the 2X setting and on a windy day, yet I was able to get the detail of the bee, the flower and even pollen. I could never have shot that with a standard DSLR and lens, even if I used a tripod.
iPhone 8 vs. iPhone X



You can't talk iPhone 8 without covering iPhone X. Apple is releasing two iPhone lines this year, and while the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are seen as the incremental update, the iPhone X is the company's attempt to re-imagine the smartphone for the future. This comes in time for the iPhone's 10th anniversary and can be considered a reboot of sorts.  

iPhone X (as in Ten) shares the same processor as the iPhone 8 Plus. It has a larger battery and an all new display (Super Retina) which is the first OLED display on an iPhone.

This is also the first edge-to-edge display and as a result retires the Home button and Touch ID in favour of Face ID.

While they share very similar DNA and almost identical software the iPhone 8 and iPhone X represent different ideals. 

The iPhone 8 is the most refined embodiment of an iPhone design that's been developed across generations. It is likely the best iPhone ever made in terms of pure development and iteration year after year. 

iPhone X is the first of its kind, it introduces a new form factor, new display, new user interactions and is really what the future looks like from Apple's point of view. 

iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus buyers know what they are buying and these devices are readily available in steady supply. iPhone X is going to be a rare commodity, maybe well into 2018. Still, I know many enthusiasts are going to go for iPhone X.

Conclusion


As far as yearly updates go, the iPhone 8 Plus improves on many of the features introduced with the iPhone 7 line. Wireless charging is a huge feature and convenience provided consumers are open to investing in third-party chargers. The powerful new Apple A11 Bionic processor is fast and made even more nimble by iOS 11, which makes multitasking even faster. 

The 12-megapixel cameras on the iPhone 8 Plus are simply the best in the business in capturing the widest possible types of shots in nearly all types of lighting conditions. Introducing portrait lighting mixes things up a bit and makes the iPhone 8 Plus a veritable studio in your pocket, provided you can work within the feature's limitations.

The iPhone 8 Plus could be considered the largest smartphone Apple makes, but with the improvements in this version and because of the A11 Bionic chip, I would argue that it is the smallest full-featured computer Apple makes. With enough processing power to match desktop counterparts leave competitors with higher specs in the dust, it is a testament to Apple's integrated strategy.

Hits:

  • Glass back brings a refreshed look and feel
  • Best cameras in the business get even better
  • Wireless charging is an excellent and timely update, works even when using a case
  • The A11 Bionic processor is a revelation in mobile silicon, benchmarks the iPhone 8 Plus on par with Intel-powered MacBooks
  • AR apps show great promise
  • Improved speakers are louder, sound better

Misses:

  • Same old overall look and feel as iPhone 6, iPhone 6S and iPhone 7 is familiar but unexciting
  • Colour options are limited to  silver, gold and space grey this year at launch,
  • Wireless charging is fidgety when not centered on Qi charger, slower than plugging in

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 

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