The iPhone 8 is the Apple phone for the rest of us

I heard some exchanges among attendees at today’s big Apple event that the iPhone 8 is a 7s in all but name. The sentiment isn’t too far off, of course — and the new phones certainly weren’t done a whole lot of good when the iPhone X upstaged them mere minutes later. Sure, it’s a bit of a dig, but it’s hard to argue the fact that the new phones are mostly refinements of their predecessor. But when you’re building on a foundation like the iPhone 7, that’s not really a bad thing.

The way these things generally break down, the S in the phone’s a pretty tough sell for those who already own last year’s model — and that certainly applies here. The most game-changing upgrade for Apple is arguably the addition of wireless charging courtesy of the phone’s glass back. It’s a feature the company has flirted with for some time, including, most notably, the Apple Watch.

Of course, Apple’s embrace of Qi on a smartphone level is probably the thing that truly takes the tech mainstream. It’s the argument Apple detractors hate to hear, but Apple’s got a pretty stellar track record on that front — the company’s often not the first, but it could well be the first time your friends and neighbors hear about it. Just play it cool.

The other biggie here is, of course, that camera. It’s another spot where the iPhone took the stage to take the wind out of the product’s sails, but the addition of cameras designed with augmented reality in mind on its mid-tier handset is the kind of vote of confidence the company needs to give AR. And after demoing a handful of ARKit titles on the 8 Plus at today’s event, I can confidently state (or, I suppose, restate) that Pokémon GO is about to look like amateur hour.

In a sense, Apple’s hampered the 8 a bit with the mere existence of the X. It’s pulled back the curtain and showed us a future in which the home button and bezels are old hat for iOS. But car companies have always offered plenty of pricing tiers, and the mere existence of a luxury vehicle doesn’t stop the public from buying sedans. And that’s what the 8 is — the every-person iPhone. For those who balked at the notion of a $1,000 phone: good news, Apple’s got something for the rest of us.

The 8 starts at $699 and the 8 Plus is $100 more. They go up for pre-sale September 15th and hit stores the 22nd.