There’s a new cheap iPhone in town. At $699, the iPhone 11 is the least expensive of the new models Apple introduced this fall — a $300 discount off the iPhone 11 Pro and $400 less than the iPhone 11 Pro Max. But don’t be fooled by that lower price tag into thinking you’re getting a downgraded phone. The iPhone 11 is one of the best smartphones you can buy, boasting a state-of-the-art processor, dual rear cameras and support for many of the photographic features you’ll find on the Pro models.
Inexpensive as the iPhone 11 may be, it’s not the cheapest iPhone. Apple continues to sell the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus at dramatic discounts from their 2017 debut prices. Obviously, opting for a two-year-old phone instead of a more recent model means tradeoffs. But how big is the gap between Apple’s iPhones? And who might the older iPhone 8 be ideal for? And should you upgrade to the iPhone 11 if you own the iPhone 8?
Here’s a breakdown comparing the iPhone 11 vs. the iPhone 8.
iPhone 11 vs. iPhone 8 design
You’re not going to mistake an iPhone 11 and an iPhone 8 if you stack up the models next to each other. At 5.94 x 2.98 x 0.33 inches, the iPhone 11 is noticeably taller and wider than the iPhone 8. The 8 Plus is both taller and wider than the iPhone 11, though, even with the larger screen on Apple’s newer phone.
Apple can fit a larger screen onto the iPhone 11 because of the notch in the display that houses the sensors and lenses that make up the TrueDepth camera. That frees up space for more screen real estate that’s otherwise eaten up by the chunky bezels on the top and bottom of the iPhone 8 and 8 Pro.
Both the newer and older iPhones feature a glass back, but the iPhone 11 outdoes the iPhone 8 in terms of color options. You can get Apple’s new phone in one of six colors — black, green, yellow, purple, white and Product Red. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are available in more staid gold, silver and space gray options.
The iPhone 11’s more durable, too, with an IP68 water resistance rating that allows it to survive a 30-minute dunk in up to 2 meters of water. With an IP67 rating, the iPhone 8 models can only last that long in up to 1 meter of water. Apple says the iPhone 11 is more durable than before, and while third-party durability tests back up that claim, we’d still recommend getting an iPhone 11 case.
Don’t think turning to an old iPhone will bring back the late, lamented headphone jack. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus don’t have that much-missed 3.5mm port, just like the iPhone 11.
iPhone 11 vs. iPhone 8 display
As we noted, you’re getting a bigger screen with the iPhone 11, at 6.1 inches. The iPhone 8 features a 4.7-inch display, while the iPhone 8 Plus bumps the screen size up to 5.5 inches. (Remember when plus-sized phones still featured displays less than 6 inches? Good times, good times.)
The iPhone 11 features an LCD screen, like the older iPhones, but they go by different names. Apple has dubbed the screen on the iPhone 11 a “Liquid Retina display,” compared to the Retina display available on the iPhone 8. There’s not really much of a difference: The iPhone 11 offers the same pixels per inch as the iPhone 8, and when we tested the displays, they turned in similar numbers for reproducing colors and, in the case of the iPhone 8 Plus, color accuracy. All three phones support True Tone, Apple’s technology for adjusting the display based on ambient lighting around it.
The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus both support 3D Touch; the iPhone 11 does not, turning to Haptic feedback where you can summon up shortcuts and other commands with a long press of the iPhone’s screen. Considering that iOS 13 added support for long presses to all iPhones, losing 3D Touch support doesn’t feel like that big a downgrade.
iPhone 11 vs. iPhone 8 performance
In its day, the A11 Bionic processor inside the iPhone 8 set the pace for other smartphones. But that day is in the rear view mirror. Apple has had two years to improve its processor designs, and you can see the benefits with the A13 Bionic chipset inside the iPhone 11 (and all iPhone 11 models, really).
We’ll float just one number to give you a sense of the iPhone 11’s superior performance. On Geekbench 5, which measures overall performance, the iPhone 11 turned in a single-core score of 1,333 and a multicore mark of 3,251. (Only the iPhone 11 Pro models had better results, likely because of more RAM.) In comparison, the iPhone 8 Plus’s numbers were 925 and 2,460, respectively.
That doesn’t mean you’ll get degraded performance with the iPhone 8 models — just that they won’t be as fast as a phone that came out two years later. The iPhone 8 is still capable of doing many of the things you can do with the iPhone 11, as the iOS 13 software update works on both the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus.
iPhone 11 vs. iPhone 8 battery life
In recent years, Apple has spent a lot of time focusing on the batteries inside its phones. Those efforts bear fruit in terms of longevity: The iPhone 11 lasted 11 hours, 16 minutes on our Tom’s Guide battery test, which involves continuous surfing over T-Mobile’s LTE network until the phone runs out of power. That result isn’t the best we’ve seen from an iPhone — take a bow, iPhone 11 Pro Max — but it’s still close to being among the longest-lasting smartphones we’ve tested.
As good as the iPhone 11’s result is, though, you can expect similar longevity from the iPhone 8 Plus, which also held out for 11:16. The iPhone 8 fares less well, at 9:54. That was an average result for smartphones back in 2017, but these days, smartphones last a little bit longer on average.
One thing that hasn’t changed in the time between when Apple released the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 11 is fast-charging support. Both phones have it, so you can get up to a 50% charge after half-an-hour with an 18-watt charger. The trouble is, you’ve got to buy that charger separately, as Apple doesn’t include it with either the iPhone 11 or iPhone 8. (You do get a charger with the iPhone 11 Pro models.)