Apple Inc. recently kicked off pre-orders for its iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus with shipping to start on Friday, but reviews for the smartphone are tepid given that the slight upgrade is getting eclipsed by features touted on the more advanced, and more expensive, iPhone X.
Last week, Apple announced its iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, along with the iPhone X, or 10, model, but while consumers can get the former in their hands at the end of the week, they’ll have to wait until Nov. 3 to get the iPhone X. The recurring theme that appears in many prominent iPhone 8 reviews is that it is a solid phone, probably good if you have an iPhone older than a 7, but otherwise, it’s a minor upgrade over the 7.
Apple AAPL, -0.74% shares closed up less than 0.1% at $158.73, and are up 37% for the year. For the month of September, however, shares are down 3.2% so far.
In comparison, the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.33% closed up 0.2%, and both the S&P 500 Index SPX, -0.52% and the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, -0.95% gained 0.1% Tuesday. For the year and September-to-date, respectively, the Dow is up 13% and 1.9%; the S&P 500 is up 12% and 1.4%; and the Nasdaq has gained 20% and 0.5%.
Here’s a roundup of what reviewers are saying:
Over at The Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch’s sister publication, Geoffrey Fowler said the iPhone 8 reminded him of the fifth “Transformers” movie: “You know it’s new, though you can’t for the life of you figure out how it’s different.”
Fowler recommended that if you want the latest and greatest, hold out for the iPhone X, but if you can’t be “be bothered with bells and whistles” like wireless charging and a camera upgrade, then “you can save a chunk of cheese by buying a nearly-as-good iPhone 7 (albeit with less storage) for $550.”
The iPhone 8 starts at $699, the larger iPhone 8 Plus starts at $799, while the iPhone X, when it goes on sale, will start at $999.
Nicole Nguyen at Buzzfeed made it clear she’s not “an iPhone H8r” but, that said, basically the iPhone 8 is what would have been called in the old days an iPhone 7s.
David Pierce at Wired said he field-tested the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus and said “Everything works great,” calling them “virtually perfect phones.” He followed that, however, with “And yet it’s already obsolete.”
“Want to know where smartphones are headed?” Pierce said. “Look at the iPhone X. The iPhones 8 are probably just the last, best version of what your phone looks like now. And they don’t cost $1,000. And for now, that’s great news.”
Nilay Patel at The Verge wrote:
The iPhone 8 is fundamentally the fourth generation of the iPhone 6 — Apple told us it thinks of the 8 as an “all-new design,” but that’s also what Apple said about the iPhone 6S and 7. It must take a lot of effort to keep reinventing the same basic design without actually changing it. The major difference you’ll notice is the glass back, but other than that nothing has changed — the 8 and 8 Plus will fit right into 7 and 7 Plus cases perfectly.
Farhad Manjoo at the New York Times called the iPhone 8 “a worthy refinement before the next generation,” so basically a solid phone but in terms of an upgrade, minor.
The 8s feel like a swan song — or, to put it another way, they represent Apple’s platonic ideal of that first iPhone, an ultimate refinement before eternal retirement. Unsurprisingly, both the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are very good phones. Most of Apple’s improvements over the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are minor, but if you have an older model, either of the 8s will feel like a solid upgrade.
David Pogue, writing for Yahoo Finance, said the iPhone 8 was “nice, but nothing to buzz about.”
“The gadget world is buzzing about Apple’s upcoming iPhone X, which it unveiled last week,” Pogue wrote. “Good thing, too — because if Apple hadn’t unveiled the iPhone X, there’d be no buzzing at all. The other phone Apple unveiled that day, the iPhone 8, is a very minor upgrade indeed.”
What analysts are saying
There’s a concern that iPhone 8 pre-orders aren’t living up to expectations, given that it only took one weekend of Sprint Corp.’s S, -7.57% pre-orders for the company to start offering a free iPhone 8 when customers bought new service while trading-in an iPhone 7 or six-month-old Samsung phone, said BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk in a recent note.
On Monday, Piecyk remarked:
It has only been 3 days since iPhone 8 pre-orders began and Sprint already increased their promotion to a “Free iPhone” headline offer. This could be a sign that Sprint’s pre-orders of the iPhone 8 did not live up to expectations. Other operators might be experiencing the same result with iPhone pre-orders, but feel less pressure than Sprint to use costly promotions to drive subscriber growth.
Of note, Apple’s iPhone 8 sales are what are going to appear in the company’s next quarterly earnings report, not those of the iPhone X, which is released after the current quarter ends, so Apple’s iPhone sales for the fiscal fourth quarter are hanging firmly on sales of the 8.
On Tuesday, Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty raised her price target on Apple to $194 from $182 while keeping her “Overweight” rating on the stock, given that Apple had raised its prices on devices across the board and that has historically boosted, rather than curbed, demand.