It’s that time of year again, folks, but this time shit’s a little more complicated. Apple turned heads at the annual iPhone lovefest by introducing not just one, not two, but three new iPhones—one of which is a pricey monster we’ve addressed in another post. If you’re thinking about placing an order for an iPhone 8 on September 15th (12am PT/3am ET), however, we’ve got some tips.
Should you get the beefy new iPhone 8 Plus? Should you spring for 256GB of storage? Should you finally switch to T-Mobile and its litany of appealing offers? You should do a lot of things in your life, including reading this blog post in full. It might just save you a few bucks.
FOR MOST PEOPLE…
Buy the 256GB space grey 4.7-inch iPhone 8 on Verizon.
Why the little one?
It’s the best size. Okay, for most people, it’s the best size. The iPhone 8 Plus, like the iPhone 7 Plus, will be fun for a select group of people who like holding pancakes in their hands and taking extra special photos with the dual camera system and paying a hundred bucks more for those privileges. But the 4.7-inch screen on the iPhone 8 is enough real estate for the average user. It fits better in your hand, your pocket, and your bag. It’s a better deal.
The camera proposition is an interesting one, however. When Apple introduced the iPhone 7 Plus, the major difference between the big phone’s camera and the camera on the iPhone 7 was the extra lens and the bokeh effect. This year, both cameras get bigger 12-megapixel sensors, but the only new feature you can get on the iPhone 8 Plus that you can’t get on the iPhone 8 is something called Portrait Lighting. This lets you adjust the lighting while the dual-lens camera is in Portrait Mode. It looks cool, but it’s also a parlor trick that you can only use in specific circumstances. In conclusion, the iPhone 8 camera is fantastic enough for most people.
The question here is really, “Why not 256GB?” Apple doubled the maximum amount of storage for the new model, from 128GB in the iPhone 7 to 256GB in the iPhone 8. Dollar-for-dollar, storage has never been cheaper in an iPhone, so you can rest easy knowing that. Meanwhile, the only other option for an iPhone 8 is 64GB. That’s a lot of storage, but the improved camera means you’ll be taking more photos and videos that take up more space.
You might fill up your 64GB and regret not getting more storage. You likely won’t regret spending an extra hundred dollars for the 256GB and never thinking about storage again.
In years past, the choice of carrier has been an easy one. Verizon has always had the best, biggest, and most most dependable cellular network. Its LTE offerings have always been supreme. (Customer service, less so.) But in the past year or so, T-Mobile has made impressive progress in challenging Verizon’s place at the top of the totem pole. The crowdsourced data from OpenSignal actually has T-Mobile beating Verizon in many categories for the first time ever.
But we’re talking about what’s best for most people. According to the folks at Wirecutter and several other independent ranking services, Verizon is still the better choice for the majority of the country. The difference in performance is most impactful when looking at urban versus rural areas. While T-Mobile continues to improve in cities, it still lags behind Verizon in the sticks. Obviously, you can see for yourself which carrier works best for you, but think about it this way: if you buy the Verizon iPhone (GSM and CDMA), you can easily switch to T-Mobile at a later date. If you buy the T-Mobile iPhone (GSM-only), you can’t.
Better resale value, full stop.
FOR THOSE WHO ARGUE WITH OUR SINGLE RECOMMENDATION…
You should wait for the iPhone X.
This one cuts deep. Who knows why Apple decided to release one new iPhone in September and another in November, but it happened. Some super fans will undoubtedly buy an iPhone 8, only to upgrade to an iPhone X when it starts shipping on November 3. If you want to be that person, God bless you.
If you’re willing to wait, you might consider skipping the iPhone 8 altogether and spending a cool grand on the iPhone X. Aside from the hip factor of the anniversary phone, the iPhone X offers the biggest screen of all the new iPhones, new facial recognition features, and an even better camera. It’s more expensive, and you’ll have to wait longer. However, if you’re looking for the biggest upgrade from your current iPhone, the iPhone X is it.
You should buy an iPhone 8 Plus, if you love a big screen.
Don’t buy an iPhone 8 Plus for the camera alone. The bokeh effect in Portrait Mode is cool and the new Portrait Lighting seems neat. You can do accomplish these results in free photo-editing apps and desktop software, however. Here’s an app for $1 that will simulate the bokeh effect. Here are a buttload of apps that let you tinker with lighting and colors.
The new and improved iPhone 8 camera will take great photos, and you can improve them for much less than the extra $100 you’d spend on an iPhone 8 Plus. You can’t make the iPhone 8 screen bigger once you buy it, however. So if you’re going for the iPhone 8 Plus, do it for the screen—not the camera.
You should buy AppleCare+.
Are you clumsy? Then spring for AppleCare+. For an iPhone 8, it will cost you $130 up front. That doubles your one-year warranty for manufacturer defects and gets you lower prices on repairs. If you completely destroy your device, a replacement will cost an additional $100. If you crack the screen, that repair will cost just $30. So if you’re one of those people who tends to walk around with a screen that looks like abstract art, pay for AppleCare+ when you buy the phone. A third party screen replacement alone could cost the $160 you’d pay for Apple’s insurance program.
You should use the Apple Upgrade Program.
Do you need financing for your new iPhone? And do you also want AppleCare+? If yes, the Apple Upgrade Program is a no-brainer. For an iPhone 8, it will cost you $34.50 a month for 24 months with 0 percent APR. The program also covers the cost of activation on AT&T, Verizon, or Sprint. And the Apple Upgrade Program lets you trade in your phone for the new model after a year.
This is not a trick. The Apple Upgrade Program just splits up the cost of the phone over the course of two years and gives you that upgrade benefit. If you can pay cash, by all means burn that paper. But you might as well use the Apple Upgrade Program if you, well, if you want an upgrade in a year.
You should switch to T-Mobile.
T-Mobile is the carrier that could. It’s the little guy that’s been screaming and screaming for the public to pay attention to it for years, and now, against all odds, T-Mobile is actually a pretty good alternative to Verizon or AT&T. T-Mobile’s coverage has never been better, and its speeds have never been faster. As mentioned above, OpenSignal now recommends T-Mobile over Verizon, the longtime favorite. Plus, if you sign up for T-Mobile, you’ll get all those “uncarrier benefits” like unlimited data and free wi-fi hotspots.
If all that sounds awesome, go for T-Mobile. Be aware, however, that T-Mobile still suffers in rural areas and that many of those uncarrier benefits are things are things you’d never use. Some of those benefits, like the new “Netflix on Us” perk, are also misleading. City dwellers and penny pinchers will probably love T-Mobile, though. You might too.
You should buy the 64GB iPhone 8.
Are you a cloud fanatic, someone who uses apps like Dropbox or Google Photos to avoid storing data on your devices? Then the 64GB iPhone 8 might be enough for your.
Here’s a quick little test. Do you currently own a phone with 32GB or less? Do you have more than 10GB of space remaining? Do you always have more than 10GB of free space on your phone? If you answered yes to all of these questions, the 64GB iPhone is probably enough storage space for you. Save the hundred bucks and have fun trusting the cloud.
You should buy the new gold gold iPhone 8.
Express yourself, my friend. You deserve it.