Apple launches the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, starting at £699 in the UK

Update: UK prices are now out and, well, I take back what I said about the pricing barely shifting. Using the straight dollar to pound conversion that’s all the rage in tech circles, the iPhone 8 will start at £699 for the 64GB model, rising to £849 for the 256GB version. The iPhone 8 Plus, on the other hand, will begin at £799 for 64GB and rise to £949 for the 256GB model.

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“No other device in our lifetimes have had the impact on our lives as this,” said Tim Cook, introducing the iPhone segment of tonight’s Apple Event in Cupertino. Promising an improved product in every way, the iPhone 8 skips the “S” model that has been part and parcel of the iPhone family since the 3GS and gone straight to a new figure.

Of course, it’s faster. Apple is packing the handset with the newly announced A11 Bionic CPU, which the company reckons offers up to 25% more speed in two performance cores, and 70% more on four of them. It also includes the first ever Apple-designed GPU, which Apple estimates will be 30% faster. While the screen barely got a mention (so expect more of the same – although it does inherit TrueTone, the ambient light detection tech built into the 10.5in iPad Pro), the stereo speakers are reportedly 25% louder than those found on the iPhone 7, with far deeper bass. That’s a good thing, as the 3.5mm headphone jack isn’t coming back, despite the public mourning at its premature death in 2016.

The device, we’re told, is made from aerospace-grade aluminium, with glass on front and back reinforced by steel. It’s the “most durable glass ever in a smartphone,” the company estimates, which feels a bit like praising the child safe qualities of the world’s least predatory tiger, but we’ll see I guess.

As every leak predicted, Apple has finally joined the world of wireless charging, using the Qi standard employed by most existing handsets – good news for owners of them, as the third party charging accessories market is about to get a lot more competitive.

Apple made quite a big deal of the new camera on the handset, but it’s hard to take too much from it from the examples shown on the big screen at the Steve Jobs Theatre. It’s still a 12-megapixel jobbie, but Apple boasts it will let in 83% more light helping it capture a lot more detail, and function markedly better in low-light conditions. This will also be somewhat handy for the AR functionality that Apple is pushing with AR Kit. Apple claims this is the first smartphone designed for AR (the Asus Zenfone AR says “hi”), and comes complete with a new gyroscope and accelerometer for better tracking of virtual items in the real world.

This all sounds pretty positive, but by far the most exciting thing about the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus is the pricing… which has barely moved from the last generation in a pretty strong move against the likes of Samsung, HTC, Sony and LG which have all seen price hikes. The iPhone 8 – available in silver, space grey and gold finishes – starts at $699 (~£526) for the 64GB model, while the iPhone 8 Plus will start at $799 (~£601). For comparison, the iPhone 7 started at $649.

Both will be available from 22 September and will arrive with iOS 11 – which officially launches three days earlier.

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