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iPhone 8 has rekindled my love for small smartphones


I’m all about big-screened smartphones. The extra real-estate, the more immersive media consumption experience, and the sheer amount of content you can view at a glance is awesome for a heavy user like me.

I thought, for the longest time, that I’d never be able to go back to a device with a screen smaller than 5 inches. Moving to a sub-5” smartphone sounded like an absurd downgrade to me…until I started using Apple’s iPhone 8. It turns out that it wasn’t so much the size that I minded — I was just using all the wrong small phones.

Now, you shouldn’t misconstrue my words. I’m not saying “the smaller the phone is, the better it becomes” because, like most things in life, there’s a sweet spot that strikes the perfect balance between screen size and body footprint. And I think the iPhone 8 (that’s the small one) very nearly nails this balance on the head.

For my hands, the iPhone 8’s footprint is almost perfect for one-handed use. I can reach 90% of the screen without needing to shift my grip which is a refreshing change of pace from the monstrous 6”+ displays that dominate the Android flagship landscape.

And it’s a really nice piece of hardware too. I know hardcore Android users love to rag on iPhones and iPhone users but it’s hard to ignore Apple’s ability to give you a truly premium, well-rounded smartphone experience. iPhone 8’s build, for example, is stellar and I think that it absolutely smashes the other small form-factor Android devices in the market right now.

You spend a lot of money on an iPhone but, especially on the glass-backed iPhone 8s, the device you’re getting also feels like it’s worth every penny. It feels expensive, almost exquisite — it’s a kind of premium that really only Samsung does better on the other side of the fence.

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Then you have the performance which is pretty much what the word buttery was conceived to describe. It’s not immediate, like a OnePlus 5, but it also isn’t bogged down by unnecessarily long animations like Windows Phone. It’s somewhere in the middle and I think that’s something many will appreciate.

What impressed me most of all, however, is despite its diminutive size, iPhone 8’s earpiece stereo speaker setup (stereo with the earpiece and bottom firing speaker) is phenomenal. I think it’s way better than speakers on a smartphone this small should ever be allowed to be.

Which is good because it made me realise that I’d gladly trade a few inches of my screen’s diagonal size for some kick-ass speakers. Turns out, screen size is not the be-all and end-all of an immersive viewing experience. I actually found myself defaulting to the iPhone 8 over my 6-inch Android handset for YouTube binging on-the-can because it sounds so much better.

Plus, it’s not like iPhone 8 has a terrible screen either. Sure, the 4.7-inch IPS panel has a resolution of just over HD 720p but it’s very crisp, has great viewing angles and gets more than bright enough to view outdoors.

I particularly liked True Tone. It’s not something you notice right away because it makes adjustments so subtly but if you pay attention, the tweaks are noticeable. Although it’s relatively invisible, I think it does a lot to to improve looking at your smartphone’s screen. It’s invisible in the best way, just remember to turn it off when you want to edit photos.

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Speaking of photos, did I mention that iPhone 8 has a really, really good camera? Yeah, the fact that you can’t tweak all your settings in the camera app is dumb but this thing can take some awesome shots.

Apple nails HDR with their new smartphone cameras and the resulting photos are really impressive.

You don’t really lose details in shadows or highlights, and you get solid colours too.

It even holds up in low light, though I have to say autofocusing definitely isn’t as fast or as accurate when it gets dark.

If I had to gripe, it’d be that this small iPhone doesn’t have Portrait Mode — because there’s only one camera — even though it’s one of Apple’s biggest talking points. It’s a little disappointing but it isn’t a dealbreaker for me.

Even as someone who frequently disagrees with a lot of Apple’s decisions, I have to admit that they got a lot right with the iPhone 8. However, it isn’t perfect because there are definitely problems.