Price can be a big factor when it comes to deciding whether a phone is worthy of buying. And, with current-generation phones often topping the $1,000 price point, it makes sense to start looking for an older model phone as a way to save some money. But how old is too old, and does it make sense to buy an older model iPhone that is no longer being sold by Apple?
Today, we’ll be taking a look at the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, which we can say with certainty — are both still in high-demand in 2021. Keep reading to learn more about these two phones, and to find out if the iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus could be your next smartphone.
iPhone 8: Overview
Apple originally released the iPhone 8 in September 2017 and it remained available from Apple through mid-April 2020. Some people may automatically assume that the iPhone 8 is old and outdated given that is was released nearly three years ago.
It is easy to see that the iPhone landscape has changed since Apple originally released the iPhone 8. Bezels have shrunk, the display size has grown, and Apple has moved from Touch ID to Face ID.
While some people are happy to adopt these changes, not everyone is a fan of larger devices and Face ID. And because not everyone is a fan of these changes — the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus remain in the top 10 best-selling phones here on Swappa. In fact, the iPhone 8 was the top-selling phone on Swappa in December 2020, with the iPhone 8 Plus sitting in eighth.
Size, Design & Display
The iPhone 8 was an interesting release from Apple. At the time it was touted as being a “new generation” of iPhone. That was an accurate statement as the iPhone 8 became the 11th generation of the iPhone. But while the iPhone 8 was a new generation of the iPhone, it shared many of the same design features as the iPhone 7.
The front of the phone looked the same, and the buttons and ports were also the same. It wasn’t until you flipped the device over that you saw the most noticeable difference — the glass back, which allowed for the addition of wireless charging. More specifically, the iPhone 8 features Qi inductive charging.
Other highlights of the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus include an IP67 rating for water and dust resistance, which allows the phone to be submerged in 3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes. But it is important to remember the IP67 rating is for water resistance — not waterproof. You wouldn’t want to go for a swim with the iPhone 8, however, the IP67 rating was enough to help if the phone accidentally went for a swim.
- Display: 4.7-inch Retina HD display with a resolution of 1334 x 750
- Size: 5.45 (H) x 2.65 (W) x 0.29 (D) (in inches)
- Weight: 5.2 ounces
iPhone 8 Plus:
- Display: 5.5-inch Retina HD display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080
- Size: 6.24 (H) x 3.07 (W) x 0.30 (D) (in inches)
- Weight: 7.1 ounces
The display on the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus was the Retina HD display from the iPhone 7. However, Apple did add True Tone. This basically meant the iPhone 8 display was better able to make automatic adjustments based on ambient lighting.
At launch, the iPhone 8 was available in Space Gray, Silver, and Gold. Apple later released a Product Red version (with a black front) in April 2018. Storage options included 64GB, 128GB and 256GB.
Processor & Performance
One concern about buying an older model is getting a device that struggles to keep up. Spending less money on a phone is good — unless you get a device that feels slow and sluggish. In the case of the iPhone 8, you are getting the Apple A11 Bionic chip with 2GB of RAM. The iPhone 8 Plus has the same Apple A11 chip, but the RAM gets bumped to 3GB.
The Apple A11 Bionic is a six-core processor, which features four energy-efficient cores and two high-performance cores. The A11 Bionic also features a motion coprocessor and Neural Engine.
For comparison, the iPhone 7 featured the Apple A10 chip, and the iPhone Xr, Xs, and Xs Max have the Apple A12 Bionic chip. And, as we learned a few months after the iPhone 8 was released, the iPhone X adopted many of the same internals as the iPhone 8 such as the Apple A11 Bionic chip.
The bottom line here, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus may not be the newest iPhone in the lineup, but the Apple A11 chip is still powerful enough to handle everyday use cases such as making calls, sending messages and emails, using social media, surfing the web, and grabbing some pictures or video.
Features & Specs
With a few exceptions, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus shared many of the same features. The feature set for each is as follows;
- 4.7-inch Retina HD (1344 x 750, 326 ppi)
- 2GB of RAM
- 1,821 mAh battery
iPhone 8 Plus:
- 5.5-inch Retina HD (1920 x 1080, 401 ppi)
- 3GB of RAM
- 2,691 mAh battery
Shared features & specs:
- Apple A11 Bionic
- 7MP front-facing camera
- Wireless charging
- IP67 rating for water and dust resistance
- Touch ID
- 64GB, 128GB or 256GB
- Space Gray, Silver, Gold, or Product Red
Aside from performance and battery life, a feature that is important for lots of people is the camera. The back camera setup differs on each device, but both the 8 and 8 Plus feature a 7MP camera on the front. Highlights in regard to the front-facing camera include an f/2.2 aperture along with auto-image stabilization, a Retina flash, auto-HDR, face detection, and the ability to capture 720p video at 240 frames per second, and 1080p video at 30 frames per second.
The iPhone 8 has a single camera setup on the rear, which consists of a 12MP camera with an f/1.8 aperture, auto-focus, optical image stabilization, and a True Tone flash. The iPhone 8 rear-camera is also capable of capturing 4k video at up to 60 frames per second, and 1080p video at up to 240 frames per second. The iPhone 8 Plus features a dual-camera setup on the back with a wide-angle and telephoto lens. The wide-angle lens is 12MP, and the telephoto lens is similar to what we saw with the iPhone 7. It was the second lens, the telephoto lens, that allowed for features such as Portrait Mode and Portrait Lighting.
According to DxOMark, the iPhone 8 was “one of the best-performing mobile device cameras” they ever tested (at the time of release). The iPhone 8 received a score of 92, with highlights touting some of the best HDR performances, an accurate auto-focus, good stabilization, and “very good color rendering under almost all lighting condtions.”
While newer versions of the iPhone received a higher camera rating, the iPhone 8 score of 92 is resectable. For reference, you can see how the iPhone 8 compares to newer models of the iPhone on the DxOMark smartphone reviews page.
Another key aspect to consider when choosing an older model iPhone is the software. It is understood that Apple will not roll out software updates forever, but it is good when you know the phone is still getting current updates. This is the case with the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. When these phones launched in 2017, they were running iOS 11.0. As of today, Apple is still supporting the 8 and 8 Plus with software updates, and the devices are running the most current version of iOS.
Some early models of the iPhone received regular software updates for about 3 years, however, that update time has gotten longer as newer and newer models have been released. For example, the iPhone 5 and iPhone 6 both received software updates for about 5 years. If that pattern follows, we would expect to see the iPhone 8 get software updates for a few more years, possibly into 2022.
Of course, most people will recommend you buy a phone for what it can do today, as opposed to what it may do with future software updates. If the phone and feature set meets your current needs — it should be worth considering.
iPhone 8: What you will get
- Solid overall phone with a strong processor and good camera
- The most recent version of iOS (as of January 2021)
- Smaller form factor phone with Touch ID (as opposed to only Face ID)
With the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are both still solid phones worth considering — perhaps the key factor will be the price. Purchasing an iPhone 8 will allow you to spend less money. Or, alternatively, you could likely purchase an iPhone 8 and Apple Watch Series 3 and still come out spending less money.
iPhone 8: What you will not get
We mentioned how the iPhone 8 is still getting regular iOS updates from Apple, which is a definite perk. But, we also do not have a firm date on when that support will end. As we mentioned earlier, recent patterns suggest the iPhone 8 could receive updates into 2022, but that is based on previous release patterns and not a firm timeline offered by Apple.
Newer models of the iPhone are always released with more features, or better features, as compared to previous models. Basically, this is just to say the iPhone 8 will not be able to do everything the current-generation iPhones can do. Of course, if the current feature set of the iPhone 8 meets your needs — that shouldn’t be an issue, aside from some FOMO.
The other aspect to consider is battery life. While the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus both had great battery life when new — all phones will see a decrease in battery life over time. Essentially, if you are buying a newish iPhone 8 you should expect some degradation in battery life. Having said that, if you get a good deal on a newish iPhone 8, it may not hurt to replace the battery from the start.
The Swappa Repair Network can help you find a repair shop that is close to where you live or work, and a replacement battery for the iPhone 8 or 8 Plus should run roughly $70.
iPhone 8 pricing
The original retail pricing for the iPhone 8 started at $699, with the iPhone 8 Plus starting $100 higher, at $799. Needless to say, you shouldn’t judge the phone by the 2017 release price. Instead, you should consider what the phone can be purchased for today, in 2021. When buying newish, the price will vary based on several factors such as the condition of the device, and the amount of internal storage. Here on Swappa, current prices for the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are as follows:
- iPhone 8: Unlocked, Mint condition – $188 – $425
- iPhone 8 Plus: Unlocked, Mint condition – $250 – $515
Should you buy an iPhone 8 in 2021?
This brings the big question — should you buy an iPhone 8 in 2021? At Swappa, we’d argue the iPhone 8 is absolutely still a worthy purchase in 2021.
Up until April 2020, when Apple stopped selling the iPhone 8, it was the newest iPhone that featured a smaller form factor and a home button. These two factors kept the iPhone 8 a popular choice, but Apple released the second-generation iPhone SE in April 2020, and this likely made the iPhone 8 buying decision a bit more complicated. The iPhone SE (second-generation) is a worthy purchase, but it is also more expensive.
While the decision process has gotten a bit more complicated, the iPhone 8 remains a top-selling device here on Swappa. When it comes to buying a phone, we recommend you set a budget on what you can spend — and then look for the best (or newest) phone that falls within your budget.
And to that point, if you had the money set aside for a new retail iPhone SE — consider getting a newish iPhone 8 and using the extra money towards an accessory, such as an Apple Watch.