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iPhone 8 Review Roundup: Solid but Boring Sequel to Classic Smartphone

The critics have weighed in on Apple’s new iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, delivering a consensus that they’re perfectly good smartphones — but not game-changing breakthroughs.

Reviewers noted that the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus include two big hardware enhancements: They (finally) add wireless charging capabilities and both models include a 12-megapixel rear camera and 7-megapixel front-facing camera.

But other than that, they’re more or less indistinguishable from the iPhone 7 line that was released last year (with some wags suggested they should have been labeled “iPhone 7s”), apart from the iPhone 8 models’ glass backing.

Apple’s real innovations are in the forthcoming iPhone X, the high-end version priced starting at $999 that features a “Super Retina Display” that stretches across the entire front of the phone and includes a facial-recognition security. According to financial analysts, there’s evidence that pre-orders of the iPhone 8 tracking below industry expectations — likely tamped down by consumers waiting for the iPhone X, which is slated to start shipping Nov. 3.

Wired’s David Pierce praised the iPhone 8 models, calling them “virtually perfect phones.” But he also said “they’re already obsolete.”

“The iPhone X looms large over the 8, with its tiny bezel and Face ID and amazing cameras,” Pierce wrote. “The iPhones 8 are probably just the last, best version of what your phone looks like now,” adding that “they don’t cost $1,000.” The iPhone 8 with a 4.7-inch screen starts at $699, while the 5.5-inch-display 8 Plus starts at $799.

The iPhone 8 is “not the upgrade you’re looking for,” the Wall Street Journal’s Geoffrey Fowler opined in his review. They look like smartphones from 2014, and if you don’t care about wireless charging or the iPhone 8’s new camera, you can spend $550 for a “nearly-as-good iPhone 7 (albeit with less storage),” he wrote.

Fowler compared the iPhone 8 to “the fifth ‘Transformers’ movie — you know it’s new, though you can’t for the life of you figure out how it’s different.”

CNET’s Scott Stine dubbed the iPhone 8 a “status quo upgrade,” saying it has “the same pedestrian design, missing headphone jack and battery life as the iPhone 7 — and no dual camera either.” He noted, however, that the iPhone 8 starts with a “roomy” 64 gigabytes of storage, twice the 7.

Other reviewers voiced the sentiment that the iPhone 8 is the last iteration the classic smartphone design. “The 8s feel like a swan song — or, to put it another way, they represent Apple’s platonic ideal of that first iPhone, an ultimate refinement before eternal retirement,” said the New York Times’ Farhad Manjoo.

“Apple told us it thinks of the 8 as an ‘all-new design,’” the Verge’s Nilay Patel wrote, “but that’s also what Apple said about the iPhone 6s and 7. It must take a lot of effort to keep reinventing the same basic design without actually changing it.”

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