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iPhone 8 isn’t the handset you’re really looking for

Many of Apple’s newest features will be available in the iPhone X in November

Image Credit: AP
Gulf News

The iPhone 8 has buyer’s remorse written all over it.

That’s not because it’s a bad phone. Quite the contrary. It’s the best iPhone Apple has even made, but that’s a title it will only hold until the Apple X launches on November 3

But for many people, the X’s (pronounced “ten”) price tag of $999 (Dh3,666) (almost $200 more than the iPhone 8) is a sticking point. So deciding whether to buy the iPhone 8 — or the larger iPhone 8 Plus — will come down to what you’re expecting.

If you get the iPhone 8 with the expectation of getting a premium smartphone loaded with new features, you won’t be disappointed. But if you’re looking to buy the iPhone 8 hoping to have your digital life transformed with augmented reality and the ability to produce flawless photography, you’re not going to be happy … at least not on Day One. And if you’re planning to buy the iPhone 8 expecting to be able to use facial scanning on an edge-to-edge OLED screen, well … you’re looking at the wrong phone. Those features come exclusively with the iPhone X.

So let’s get back to the first expectation. The iPhone 8 is as solid as any previous iteration, with most of the expected upgrades that come standard in a new flagship smartphone. It has an upgraded processor — the A11 Bionic, an improved camera, and a Retina HD screen.

There are also a few new features, including the ability to wirelessly charge your iPhone. However — and this is a sizeable “however” — this feature isn’t available out of the box. To wirelessly charge the iPhone 8, you’ll need a wireless charging station. Apple neither includes one with the iPhone 8 nor does it make one. You’ll have to buy one; we’re using a Belkin charger, which retails for an additional $60. (That’s an Amazon price. Local prices may vary.)

And by the way, you do have to plug the charger in — so you’re not actually cutting down on the number of chords in your home. Just saying.

Failure to live up to expectations

If you’re hoping the iPhone 8 arrives as a augmented reality (AR) bending, super-photography creating smartphone — an image that was built largely on Apple’s September 12 presentation — you’ll probably won’t be happy.

The problem isn’t the technology but the lack of development on the part of app makers. We were hoping to see a deluge of AR apps when iOS11 launched on Tuesday, and while we did see some, it wasn’t the interactive experience we were hoping for. As of Wednesday, the AR apps available are a couple of kids games (My Very Hungry Caterpillar; Thomas & Friends Minis), IKEA Place, an app that allows you to place virtual furniture in your home; Sky Guide AR, an app for astronomers; and Monster Park — Dino World, and a few others. Two notes on these: first, previous versions of several of these were already available on the Apps store, and second, none of them capture the graphic-intensive experience we saw in Cupertino.

To be fair, this will probably change as more AR apps are scheduled to be released, but that’s not what you want to hear after waiting months for this feature to launch. When apps such as “The Walking Dead: Our World” — sort of a reverse Pokémon game where the monsters hunt you — launches, maybe then we might have something to talk about.

Improved camera

The iPhone camera is something that Apple has been developing for the last few years and it has become of the device’s strongest feature. Those who buy the iPhone 8 Plus will be able — thanks to Apple’s dual camera feature, which debuted in the iPhone 7 — to get creative with portraits thanks to a variety of new lighting modes, including a “stage light” feature. The verdict is still out on these; Apple’s editing and preset filters currently work great. In the few days we’ve been playing with the iPhone 8 we are not sure the new lighting settings really offer a significant step forward.

The camera also comes with a larger sensor, which allows for faster focusing in low light, and better depth-of-field pictures (a photography term best summed up as the ability to give you a blurry background), which can really add a nice touch to your portraits. The new camera also has the ability to record 4K video at 60 framed-per-second. Both phones can also record in slow motion at 1080p HD at 240 fps.

For those of you who were hoping to be able to alter the source of light in your photos, sorry, that is an iPhone X feature.

So, to sum up, yes, the iPhone 8 is a solid, top-of-the-line smartphone, but don’t expect to see everything Apple promised during its keynote on September 12. As for the face recognition and button-less home screen, you’ll have to come back on November 3 for the X.

The iPhone 8 is retailing for Dh2,849 for the 64GB version and Dh3,479 for the 256GB version. The iPhone 8 Plus is Dh3,249 for the 64GB version and Dh3,879 for 256GB. It will be available in stores on September 23, and is available to pre-order now.

Apple’s new mobile operating system

Apple’s latest mobile operating system also launched on Tuesday. Apple promised that the new system is bringing hundreds of changes to your iPhone and iPad. Here are some of our favourites:

Hey Siri: Apple has been trying to make Siri more interactive, and you will get a taste of that in iOS11. You can now ask Siri to play music on your iPhone, and she does a fairly good job of picking your favourite songs (based on your play history.) She can also translate phrases into Chinese, French, German, Italian or Spanish. Sorry, no Arabic.

Control Centre: Almost everyone has pointed this out as one of the best new features. The new control panel is customisable and puts all your most frequently used setting in a easy-to-get-to place.

Screen caption: iOS11 now makes it easy to capture your screen image and then takes you directly to a mark-up page where you can add notes. When you’re finished, you can then send it directly to friends. You can also record what you see on your screen, too. Take note Snapchat fans — can’t say you haven’t been warned.

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