After just a few months short of four years, I’ve retired my iPhone 5s. After such a long time of daily use, it had surprisingly few issues. The only real big one was that sometimes after I’d press the power button to wake the phone, I’d be forced to hold the power down because it didn’t go to sleep, rather it shut down entirely. The odd time, even that wouldn’t bring it back to life and I’d have to hold the home and power buttons until it started the boot sequence. A small and self-inflicted problem was the flash stopped working after I changed the battery. I suspect I didn’t seat the connector properly. I didn’t open it up again to find out.
So I upgraded to the iPhone 8. I stayed up late on September 14 to get my order in as soon as possible and I received it on September 22.
It’s more expensive that I would have liked, but I’m pretty easy on my electronics so I want to get the maximum life out of it before it will no longer take operating system upgrades. The iPhone X was never in contention because although I love the OLED screen, I don’t want to pay for it, and I much prefer fingerprint authentication over authentication via facial recognition.
The most obvious difference is the size. The iPhone 8 is 11 mm longer, 8.7 mm wider, and 0.3 mm thinner, than the 5s. It’s also 36 g heavier. To my great surprise, it fits my hand far more nicely than the 5s did. That may also have to do with the completely rounded edges. The power button was also moved from the top left to the left top, if you follow. Hold the phone in your right hand and the power button falls nicely under your thumb, and in your left hand it sits nicely under your index finger. This change is a good one, but takes some getting used to. Overall, it feels great in my hand, has enough mass to feel solid, and the rounded edges are just right.
I was wary of the increase in size. My phone lives in my front pocket, and the space available in there is not unlimited! Happily it’s not an issue. In exchange, the screen is 20% larger, which has me reaching for my iPad noticeably less often. It’s not an OLED screen, but it’s certainly the nicest LCD I’ve ever seen.
I must make special mention of the fingerprint reader. I can’t say whether it’s vastly improved or merely takes advantage of the more powerful processor at the heart of the iPhone 8, but it’s ridiculously fast. With the 5s, I would press the home button, and let my thumb linger on it for a second, waiting for my fingerprint to be recognized. With this new model, my fingerprint is usually recognized before I remove my thumb even if I don’t pause at all. Most of the time, fingerprint authentication is entirely invisible.
- I haven’t tried wireless charging but I certainly will be getting a charging pad for my night table.
- The camera is much improved as far as I see in the little use I’ve made of it. I look forward to trying the 240 FPS slow-motion video.
- The True Tone feature is great. White is always pleasantly white. The display does not tend toward coolness, even in very warm light.
- Raise to Wake was the first thing I searched on how to disable.
- I love the barometer. Not only can I see the number of steps I’ve taken, but the number of floors I’ve climbed.
- The processor is much faster of course. The whole UI is so responsive.
- The sound is louder at full volume. That will give my wake-up alarm a boost of effectiveness.
- I triggered the SOS feature without my glasses on. I didn’t notice the three-second countdown and called 911 by accident. So embarrassing! A great feature though, especially if you stop it before calling 911, as it disables fingerprint authentication the next time you attempt to access the phone.
- I’m eager to try Apple Pay. Support for it seems sparse on the ground around here, though. Still, the NFC works with any system that allows you to ‘tap to pay’ with your bank or credit card.
So far, I love the damn thing!
Image courtesy of Apple.ca