iPhone X vs iPhone 8: Understanding The Differences

By | September 21, 2017

This year’s ‘September iPhone event‘ is done and dusted – and Apple has, for the first time in its history, announced two new iPhones – iPhone 8 and the uber-pricey iPhone X – at the same event (three, if you count the iPhone 8 Plus as well). Given the fact that more than 1.2 billion iPhones have been sold till date, and the amazing stat that nearly 400 iPhones are sold every minute – the excitement among users worldwide about the two new models has been, understandably, huge. The strong performance of iPhone 7 has also helped in getting people interested in the latest Apple smartphones. While there are broad similarities between the two models, we will here do a detailed iPhone X vs iPhone 8 comparison – highlighting the key differences between them:

  1. Dimensions and form-factor - iPhone X is the very first bezel-less smartphone launched by Apple. The handset is also remarkably compact, with dimensions of 5.65” x 2.79” x 0.30”. The only factor that seems to rather stick out is the ‘notch’ in the top-portion of the display (for Face ID) – which eats up some of the screen real estate. On the other hand, the ‘smaller’ iPhone 8 has dimensions of 5.45” x 2.65” x 0.29” – indicating that the phones have roughly similar dimensions (the iPhone X is marginally taller). The difference is more pronounced in terms of weight, with the iPhone 8 being around 17% lighter than the iPhone X (5.2oz vs 6.1oz). The lack of bezels in iPhone X enables the handset to offer a significantly larger display area, without expanding the form-factor appreciably. Even the weight-difference is not large enough to influence buying decisions.

Note: To put things in perspective, the iPhone 8 Plus weighs 6.6oz and has dimensions of 6.28” x 3.07” x 0.32”.

2. Screen resolution and display quality – When the Cupertino tech giant had introduced ‘Retina display’ (in iPhone 4), it had referred to the word ‘Retina’ as the maximum count of pixels detectable by the human eye. The company has gone a step further this year, by bringing in Super Retina Display on the iPhone X. What’s more, the device also has an OLED (organic light-emitting diode) screen – for brighter colours and crisper blacks (OLED helps in saving power too). The iPhone 8 continues with the traditional LCD (liquid crystal display) screen, and has Retina Display. In terms of screen resolution and contrast ratio, the iPhone X (2436×1125; 1000000:1) – rather expectedly – blows iPhone 8 (1334×750; 1400:1) out of the park. Both the phones support the True Tone technology, and HDR media content can be played on either of them. iPhone X also has the highest ever PPI (pixels-per-inch) figure for an iDevice, at 458 PPI. The iPhone 8 has a comparatively modest 326 PPI.

Note: As impressive as the screen specs of iPhone X might seem, the high-end Android devices (the Galaxy S8 or the soon-to-release Google Pixel 2 XL) already offer similar or higher resolutions.

3. Battery performance - While the functionalities of smartphones have improved beyond sight, question marks have lingered over their often-lousy battery lives. The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus (with 1960 mAh and 2900 mAh batteries) were only about average in this regard. However, the arrival of the A11 Bionic processor in iPhone 8 and iPhone X (it replaces the A10 processor) should give a much-needed boost to battery performance. In particular, the iPhone X is expected to deliver around 2 hours of more battery juice than iPhone 7 – while iPhone 8 would offer, on average, the same battery performance as last year’s model. Wireless talk time (21 hours vs 14 hours) and audio playback (60 hours vs 40 hours) are two points where the iPhone X has a big edge over iPhone 8. Both the phones have wireless charging (another first in the history of iPhones), compatible with Qi charging standards. Wired ‘quick charging’ (50% charge in half an hour) is also available in iPhone X and iPhone 8.

Note: AirPower – Apple’s very own wireless charging pad – is likely to be launched in early-2018.

4. Camera features - Another big point of difference between the two latest iPhone models. The iPhone 8 has an efficient 12 MP, f/1.8 back camera (with 5X digital zoom) – perfectly capable of capturing great shots anywhere, and at any time of the day. However, the iPhone X takes things to an altogether higher level – with two separate back cameras, a f/2.4 telephoto camera and a f/1.8 wide-angle camera (with 10X zoom). These cameras combine to create fascinating ‘portrait effects’ in snaps – something that the iPhone 8 misses out on. The latter’s FaceTime HD ‘selfie’ camera (7MP, with Retina Flash) also does not quite have the feel of the decidedly more powerful TrueDepth ‘selfie’ camera of iPhone X – which comes with ‘portrait lighting’ and ‘portrait mode’ (the camera can take selfies with clearer edges, on beautifully blurred backgrounds – creating a bokeh effect of sorts). Face ID on iPhone X is also made possible by this TrueDepth camera.

Note: The optical image stabilization (OIS) feature and the higher aperture speed should make the iPhone X dual camera better than that of iPhone 8 Plus.

5. Screen size - The bezel-less, edge-to-edge, futuristic 5.8” screen of iPhone X makes it look a lot like the Essential Phone (launched in May). As highlighted above, the display is OLED and Super Retina HD. The screen size of iPhone 8 has been kept static at 4.7”, with Retina Display and backlighting. However, many experts feel that the iPhone X screen ‘won’t feel as large as it should’ – due to the presence of the notch at the top, which would also render the areas on its side unusable. The infrared camera for Face ID is located in this notch, along with the device speaker. iPhone 8 and iPhone X both have glass bodies, to facilitate wireless charging. The chassis of the phones have Series 7000 aluminium, and the water-resistance (IP67) and dust-resistance features are identical.

Note: The notch on the iPhone X screen makes it somewhat similar (in terms of actual display area) to the 5.5” iPhone 8 Plus.

6. Touch ID vs Face ID – iPhone 8 continues to have the good ol’ ‘Home’ button, with users being able to use the fingerprint-based Touch ID to unlock their handsets. On the larger iPhone X though, the ‘Home’ button has disappeared – and the biometric identification happens with the help of a brand new technology called Face ID (similar to how the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 unlocks). The facial recognition technology of iPhone X is set up with the help of a light receiver, an ambient light sensor, a depth-sensing module and a proximity sensor – and according to Apple, it is a lot ‘safer’ than the traditional Touch ID (chances of hacks is ‘one in a million’) with Face ID. The image recognition software in the TrueDepth camera has been created by an advanced neural network – with machine learning (ML) enabling it to perform more than 600 billion operations in a second. Face ID can also ‘learn’ the changes in a user’s face (growing a beard, putting on a hat, etc.) – and can accurately identify users at night. For those who prefer familiarity, iPhone 8 with its fingerprint scanner and Home button would be the better choice – while iPhone X will be the new, exciting kid on the block, which will take some getting used to.

Note: The disappearance of the ‘Home’ button has also made the navigation scheme different in iPhone X, with upward swiping being the go-to action for returning to the previous screens. At the launch event, the Face ID demo hit a glitch, and a second backup device had to be used.

7. Device speed and storage - The new 64-bit A11 Bionic processor of the new iPhones (together with the M11 motion coprocessor) makes them significantly faster than the iPhone 7/7 Plus. While the CPU performance of iPhone X and iPhone 8 is likely to be around 25% faster than that of last year’s devices (and make no mistakes…the iPhone 7 was a mighty efficient device itself) – the real difference is going to be in the GPU performance, with the new flagships offering up to 30% faster performance than its predecessors. When it comes to multitasking too, there will be serious speed advantage of the new devices over older models (~70%). iPhone X is likely to have a slight advantage in terms of storage, with a 3GB RAM (as opposed to the 2GB RAM of iPhone 8). Loading relatively heavy apps and games will take lesser time – and this will be particularly discernible for those making an upgrade from iPhone 5/5S to iPhone 8/iPhone X. Device analysts, however, feel that the speed bump might not be big enough for a iPhone 7-user (or, for that matter, a iPhone 6S-user) to go for the new models.

Note: iOS 11, which will debut on iPhone 8 and iPhone X, will have backward compatibility till iPhone 5S. The update won’t be available for older models.

8. AnimojisAugmented reality (AR) is being closely studied by tech giants for some time now. The new Apple smartphones are billed as ‘optimized for AR’ – and the ARKit platform, in general, has been ramped up to enable third-party developers come up with more engaging AR applications. Once again, iPhone X has a feature – in the form of the cute ‘Animojis’ – that the iPhone 8 lacks, in this context. The depth-sensing camera of the former (working with the ‘dot projector’ and the ‘flood illuminator’), together with the infrared scanner, has the capability to ‘understand’ and mimic the facial expressions of users and reflect them in custom animated emojis. These ‘animojis’ will also be supported on popular apps like Snapchat – and they would add to the fun factor of using the latest iPhone (and a landmark model too!) considerably.

Note: The aspect ratio of the iPhone 8 is 16:9. In keeping with the higher-quality display of iPhone X, the latter’s aspect ratio is 19:9.

9. Colour options - The iPhone X will be available in two alternative colour options – silver and space grey. iPhone 8 will also be available in these two traditional iPhone colours, along with an attractive ‘blush gold’ option (remember the splash that the ‘rose gold’ iPhone 6S made?). There is the chance of both the models (at least one of them) being made available in red later on – just like the makeover iPhone 7/7Plus got in March this year. Both the new phones have glass bodies – which adds to the aesthetics, but does raise questions over the probably increased fragility of the devices. The phones will also have built-in near-field communications (NFC) support for Apple Pay.

Note: The new iPhones have finally ditched the 32GB model variants. Users will have to take their pick from the 64GB and the 256GB models of iPhone 8 and iPhone X.

10. The price factor - iPhone 8 is the new flagship Apple phone, and understandably, it is a rather pricey device. The cost of the 64GB model is $699, while that of the 256GB variant is $849 – making the handset significantly more expensive than the introductory prices of iPhone 7 models. However, if you think that these price tags are rather high – check this: for the 64GB iPhone X, buyers have to shell out $999, while the 256GB model has been priced at $1149. Apple is clearly positioning iPhone X as the ‘premium’ model (its price is $200 more than the iPhone 8 Plus) – and it remains to be seen whether the phone indeed turns out to be worth this exorbitant markup. Strangely enough, for stratospheric price levels such as these, the decision of not providing ‘fast chargers’ in the box is rather baffling (given that these chargers are not exactly cheap either). Apple CEO Tim Cook has said that $999 is a ‘value price’ for the iPhone X – a statement that seems slightly outlandish at present.

Note: Users have the option to buy the new iPhones with two-year contracts, effectively distributing the expenses over the time-span.

Pre-ordering for iPhone 8 started from 15 September, with shipments slated to start from tomorrow. On the other hand, we are still more than a month away from the start of iPhone X shipments (from 3 November). A more insightful comparison would be possible only after users have managed to lay their hands on the two devices.

The iPhone 8 is a more-than-adequate upgrade in the line of Apple smartphones, with several strong features and performance boosts. iPhone X, though, is more of a game-changer – right from the designs and the navigation (in the absence of ‘Home’ button), to the all-new Face ID , and of course, the unprecedented price tag. 2017 marks the tenth anniversary of the iPhone – and it is easy to see that Apple’s celebratory iPhone X has quite a few things that are not available in iPhone 8. Will those be enough to justify the much higher price? Let’s wait and see!