Even though Apple upgraded the camera with a new sensor, the specs are the same. It's still 12MP in resolution with an f/1.8 lens. The daylight photos snapped with the iPhone 8 Plus have improved since the iPhone 7 Plus though.
For starters - there is more resolved detail, and the samples are noticeably sharper. There is a new noise reduction as promised - it leaves a bit more noise but smears less fine detail, especially in low light.
One of the most important and prominent upgrades is the much better color reproduction - the dull, washed out colors we criticized the iPhone 7 series for are gone. The iPhone 8 Plus camera captures true to life colors, lively and renders them nicely even in demanding weather conditions.
The corner softness is gone on the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, but our unit seems to be suffering from a lens issue. The 8 Plus samples came out with a considerably soft right side, all the way between the two corners. We can confirm this is not present on the iPhone 8 and other iPhone 8 Plus units we've encountered so far.
The autofocus is always correct, the white balance is accurate, and the contrast is superb in all samples. Finally, the dynamic range is simply amazing - if not the best we've seen on the phone. And that's with the Auto HDR option turned off. In fact, when we manually opted for HDR - the samples turned out worse. How about that?!
It seems the new sensor, image processor, and a color filter are more than worth it as the iPhone 8 Plus delivers one of the best 12MP samples out there.
But even though we are impressed with the new colors, the dynamic range, and contrast - we are still noticing the somewhat watercolor-like foliage presentation at 1:1 magnification. The iPhones have been this way for years, and Apple may want to put some work here, too.
And here are some iPhone 7 Plus samples for comparison.
And here are the HDR samples we mentioned earlier - they came somewhat worse than the originals.
The iPhone 8 Plus camera resolves as much detail as the Galaxy S8's, but more than the Xperia XZ1 Compact. The Xperia on the other hand does much better at capturing foliage. The S8 photos look a bit unnatural with those oversaturated colors, while the iPhone 8 Plus is keeping them closer to real-life.
The OIS allows the iPhone 8 Plus to drop the shutter speed to as low as 1/4s when shooting handheld. This combined with the wide aperture, the new sensor, and the new image processor allows the iPhone 8 Plus to take great low-light images.
There is plenty of detail in all-low light shots, the colors are mostly accurate, and the dynamic range is still impressive all things considered. Once again, those are one of the best low-light images we've encountered.
And here are some indoors samples, which may be noisy, but very good nevertheless.
We also decided to test the slow-sync flash. As promised it lets in some of the ambient light and makes the image look more natural. Or to simplify it - you don't look like a zombie anymore. But using it requires to hold the camera extra still.
Finally, we took the iPhone 7 Plus, the Galaxy S8, and the Xperia XZ1 Compact for another spin, this time at night. The Galaxy S8 has the best noise suppression and often manages to keep more detail than the iPhone 8 Plus, especially in the foliage. Sometimes the noise reduction smears some fine detail, while in others there is noticeable lens flare. The iPhone 8 Plus is less aggressive against noise and leaves plenty, though there is plenty of detail, too. No lens flare here. The iPhone 7 Plus images are very close to the 8 Plus, and last is the Xperia XZ1 Compact.
The telephoto camera also does a great job in good light and comes in handy when you need a bit of zoom. Its quality is close to the main camera's - the images have plenty of detail and the same great processing, lovely colors, and impressive dynamic range.
And here are some iPhone 7 Plus telephoto samples for comparison.
The telephoto lens has a relatively narrow f/2.6 aperture and won't do for low-light shots. In those scenes, the phone will stop using the telephoto camera and would instead switch to cropping the output of the main camera to achieve the zoomed effect. This, of course, takes its toll on image quality, so it's something to keep in mind.
Portrait mode uses the telephoto camera and some software trickery to create a photo with a faux bokeh. Now the new Portrait Lighting enhances on this shooting with new effects - the now camera scans the scene, identifies the face of your subject and adjusts the tone curve of the face to make it better lit. And you can change the effect after you've taken a shot, neat!
The feature is still in beta, and you can tell - if your subject has messy hair the photos aren't looking so good. Sometimes ears go missing, others - the clothes aren't properly recognized, and the effect isn't applied properly on them.
And if you are keen on using those Stage Light effects, just don't expect the results to be great every time. A lot of times, the success would depend on the color of the clothes you are wearing and even on your haircut or hair color.
As you can tell, the Portrait Lightning needs some work, but that's probably why Apple announced it as beta.
The iPhone 8 Plus offers 180-degree panoramic shots, and they can go up to 15,000 x 4,000 pixels or 60MP. The stitching is great, there are no artifacts, and the color rendering is good, too. The HDR panoramic shots are here to stay, and with the new rendering - everything looks just great.
You can also shoot telephoto panoramic shots, and they are as impressive as the regular ones.
The front-facing camera is the same 7MP unit we saw on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. It can use the so-called Retina flash, where your screen lights your face up in particular color to provide more pleasing skin tones depending on the color of the available light.
There is plenty of resolved detail, though not the best we've seen. The contrast and colors are very good, while the exposure is always based on the human subject, which leaves the background overexposed at times.
You can check out how the iPhone 8 Plus 12MP wide-angle and telephoto cameras perform in our dedicated compare tool.