iPhone 8 reviewed: Nice, but nothing to buzz about
The gadget world is buzzing about Apple’s upcoming iPhone X, which it unveiled last week.
(Heaven knows what they’re going to call next year’s models. The iPhone 9 and the iPhone XI?)
Reviewers won’t get the iPhone X to review until next month. But the iPhone 8 gets into the public’s hands this Friday, so the time is ripe for a review of that phone!
One big-ticket item
The iPhone 8 and its plus-size sibling, the iPhone 8 Plus, look almost exactly the same as the iPhone 7 family. The one difference is the back, which is now glass (gray, silver, or gold) instead of metal. It looks glossy and beautiful—not that most people will ever see it once they shove it into a case.
Apple says that its partner Corning Glass has hardened up this formulation by another 50%, but glass will always be more likely to shatter than metal.
Apple didn’t switch to glass for cosmetic reasons, though. It switched so that it could catch up with Samsung—by offering magnetic inductive charging.
Apple and Samsung call it wireless charging, but what they actually mean is “laying your phone on a special charging pad.” It’s true that you’re no longer plugging a cord into the phone, but the pad itself still has to be plugged into a power outlet.
If you’re among the “Oh, come on—how hard is it to plug in a cable?” crowd, I hear you. As author John Green might say, having to fuss with a power cord is the first-worldliest of first-world problems.
Still, once you’ve tried pad charging, you won’t go back. You come home from work, you just set the phone down on your way in. Or you set it down on your bedside table. Done.
Life will be even sweeter if Apple succeeds in its efforts to persuade hotels, airports, and car makers to put these charging pads everywhere you want to be. Then a smartphone’s short battery life (unimproved in the iPhone 8) will matter less.
The really great news is that Apple has adopted the same charging standard that Samsung and other companies use, called Qi (pronounced “chee”). You don’t have to buy Apple’s charging pad; you can use any company’s. These pads cost about $12 on Amazon (AMZN)—in fact, Apple doesn’t even sell a charging pad of its own.
Some time next year, Apple says, it will offer a jumbo mat called AirPower, which will offer a sweet perk: You can lay your iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPod charging case (a special new one) on this pad simultaneously, and charge them all at once.