This is one of our first in the line of “Classic” posts. Originally written in 2017 by Natalie Santana before the launch of the iPhone X.
Unless you’re living under a rock, you probably are aware that Apple have officially announced the new iPhone line up. Of course the presentation was done in the typical Apple ultra-modern minimalist style. They started out with news about Apple TV, which seems like it’s really starting to turn into a competitive product versus things like Cable TV. Its new offerings, namely live sports and 4k support for Netflix shows among other things, really set it apart from competitors like Roku and the Amazon Fire stick. They also announced that the Apple Watch 3 would have cellular support, very similar to the way iPad cell support works, so that the Watch can operate more independently of your phone. This is good news for anyway who has considered dropped a cell phone in favor of cheaper options such as just using an iPad with a data plan or other similar setups but still want the features of a smart watch.
Why You’re Here
But let’s be honest, if you’re here it’s not because you want to hear about the keynote presentation. You want to hear about the iPhones. Quick disclaimer for those who care: the only Android phone I ever owned, was the original Motorola Droid way back in 2009. I liked it well enough but only owned for a couple of months since I was getting married and was leaving my parent’s family plan to move to AT&T so my wife could have an iPhone. At the time, AT&T was all in on the iPhone and didn’t really have Android phones at the time. The ones they did have didn’t have access to Google Play and I’ve had an iPhone ever since. I’ve spent so much money though iTunes on music and apps at this point that switching to an Android at this point would be tantamount to throwing away hundreds of dollars for a device whose “advantages” don’t really matter to me anyway. Tl;dr- Don’t expect any sort of comparison or acknowledgement of Android’s in this article.
Part of what I’d like to do is compare the new phones, not just to each other, but also to the existing iPhone 7 and 6S. At this point in time, Apple really has 3 iPhone options worth considering, each with different advantages, price notwithstanding. We will be talking purely about features here! I won’t be going over all of the features, just the ones that are why you should consider each one. There are some differences such as processor, screen resolutions, DPI, etc. that do separate the phones but I doubt the average user will care about that stuff. Heck, anything outside of the most DBZ-power-level-over-9000-power-user will likely care about any of that stuff. We’ll be basing our comparison on battery life, charging methods, screen size to phone size ratio, options, camera, and other features. All comparisons will assume we are talking about the Plus size phone for the most consistent comparison since the battery life on the Pluses is longer than their counterparts and the screen size is more comparable to the X.
The iPhone 6S is the baseline model here. The big draw to the 6S is going to be price more than anything but it also has a feature that no other iPhone from here on out ever will and that is a standard headphone jack. I can’t believe I’m saying that a 3.5mm standard headphone jack, technology that has been around for literal decades and is standard on everything INCLUDING CARS anymore, is an actual feature. Yes, it’s true. New iPhones don’t and likely never will again have a headphone jack if Apple’s track record for nixing “obsolete” technology is anything to consider. And take it from me, it is. Beyond that the 6S is the same phone you are likely used to. Its battery life is comparable to the X and is close enough to the 7 & 8 that I don’t think it’s a considerable difference. Charging is the same as you’re used to where the 8 and X boast wireless charging that the 6S & 7 lack. The size of the 6S & 7 are identical to the 8. One thing that may matter here is that the 6S is available in gold and rose gold where the new phones are not…yet but we’ll talk about that later. Also it’s worth mentioning that the 6S is not officially water resistant where the 7, 8, and X are.
A quick aside here, why not mention the 7? Well quite frankly there is nothing about it that stands out compared to the other models here. The 8 is a strict upgrade over everything the 7 is. The only reason I would consider a 7 is because 1) price is a concern and 2) you don’t mind having an 8 with wireless charging. I would note that the wireless charging means you can charge the phone and listen to headphones at the same time. That’s something the 7 can’t do without a special adapter. Granted, the wireless charger is not included with the phone but it is something to consider. To find out of the 7 is right for you ask yourselves these questions: 1) Do you care about a headphone jack? 2) Do you care about wireless charging? 3) Do you want to save money? If your answers are exactly 1) No, 2) No, 3) Yes, then buy the 7. Otherwise ignore it.
The 6S established our baseline so from here on out we’ll just talk about what’s different. Again, the 8 is the same size as the 6S, charges via a cord, etc. You know the story, so what makes it worth the extra money you wouldn’t spend on the 6S? Well, it does have a slightly better battery life but honestly, it’s not so much better that it’s worth really considering for that reason alone. However, the 8 does support wireless charging. As cool as that feature is, the wireless charger probably won’t come with the phone making it an extra cost. I think wireless charging is the biggest reason to look at an 8 over the 6S. It’s purely a convenience thing for sure. Honestly, in my opinion the 7 and 8 are extremely lack luster entries in a long line of otherwise lack luster changes to a very stagnant line of phone. However, the 8 is significant only in that it is a middle ground to the aging 6S and the ultra-minimalist and high tech X. It will appeal to people who don’t want the X but still want something newer than the 6S.
That brings us to the X. First let me say that the X is expensive and as excited as I am for it, I remain relatively unconvinced that the $1000 price tag is truly justified by the phone. I would never recommend someone buy the X at that price. That said, if you want it then you want it and that’s all there is to it. I will probably be buying it but not because I think it’s a smart purchase. The X has two major “features” that I think make it worth considering. If they appeal to you, then maybe it is the right option. The first one is the screen size to phone size ratio. Some of you may remember when the iPhone’s grew in size the first time with the 5 and then when the Plus was released with the 6. People lost their dang minds but not in a good way. For those out of the know, Apple responded to market pressure from criticism of Android fans whose phones were growing by the minute. Now, the X is no different than most Galaxy models. The X is only “revolutionary” in the iPhone line, not the cell market overall. So what does the screen size have to do with anything? Well, believe it or not, despite the fact that the X’s screen is larger the phone is actually smaller than the Plus versions of the 6, 7, and 8. That is kind of nice. It gives people a chance to get the “best of both worlds” with an even larger screen than before but in a form factor that is more palm friendly than the Plus models. The other major attraction for the X is the lack of a home button and face scanning technology. Privacy concerns aside, this feature is kind of nice because it means having a phone that operates like its unsecured, but is actually secured. Ultimately I don’t think the feature is a real “selling point” of the phone so much as a neat little addition that X users will have access to. Mind that the X cannot do finger print recognition.
Last Couple Notes
Let’s talk cameras real quick. The camera in each of the phones is the same 12MP sensor that has been around since the 6. The only thing that makes the newer ones better are the light sensors. This can create more dynamic photos, sure. I doubt that the average user’s experience and results are going to compare to the photos that Apple shows off in its marketing material. Let’s be real, the camera’s in the 8 and X ARE better than the others BUT I would argue it doesn’t matter for a vast majority of users.
Another aside here, this time about storage capacity. Yes, the 8 and X have fewer options than we are used to. However, the base model 64GB…should be enough for most people. Particularly avid shutter bugs might find that fills up far too quickly for their taste. Unless you are an Instagram trend setter, or at least an aspiring one, I don’t think most people will need more than 64GB. That said, it does stink given that there isn’t a mid-range option to balance cost to storage. Yet another advantage the 6S has over the newer models.
Phew. So that is probably a lot to take in. In my opinion, the 8 is lack luster. If they had not introduced the X I am not sure that I would be upgrading past the 6S because I really like having the headphone jack for my expensive head phones. If the X didn’t improve the screen size to phone size ratio and offer wireless charging as an alternative to the weird dual cord dongle thing, I’m not sure that I would want it either. I think the X is exciting mostly because the 8 is not. Unless you have some specific need where the wireless charging really fills a need in your life, this new generation of iPhones really isn’t that exciting.