iPhone 12 vs iPhone 8: Time to upgrade

A closer look at whether it’s better to go budget iPhone 8 or all-out iPhone 12.

Cheapest iPhone 12 Plan
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    50GB per month
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    Unlimited calls and text
Cheapest iPhone 8 Plan
October 20, 2020
6 min read

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Quick verdict

In the market for an iPhone and want to save bucks? The iPhone 8 is still absolutely a worthy purchase. Looking to upgrade from an iPhone 8? There’s enough new stuff to justify the upgrade to an iPhone 12. Comparing the two? Unless you want to save (a fair chunk) of cash, the iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Mini is our pick over the iPhone 8 Plus or iPhone 8.


iPhone 8 vs iPhone 12: Price

In the market for an iPhone and want to save bucks? The iPhone 8 is still absolutely a worthy purchase. Looking to upgrade from an iPhone 8? There’s enough new stuff to justify the upgrade to an iPhone 12. Comparing the two? Unless you want to save (a fair chunk) of cash, the iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Mini is our pick over the iPhone 8 Plus or iPhone 8.

It feels like forever that we’ve been anticipating the release of the iPhone 12, but it’s finally here. And while flagship is certainly more some people’s speed, there are plenty of stalwarts who have been patiently waiting to upgrade. Though it’s three years old, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are still popular purchases with a semi-premium price tag.

If you’re looking to upgrade from your iPhone 8 to the iPhone 12 – especially because three years between upgrades is a sweet point for a lot of people – this page will break down the essential info you need to know in the comparison.

While iPhone 12 handsets are widely available, the iPhone 8's age means it a little more difficult to find an outright deal. With that said, there are a few options if you don't mind a refurbished handset.

iPhone 8 vs iPhone 12 outright price

Model
Price

iPhone 12 Mini

iPhone 12

iPhone 8 vs iPhone 12: Plans

It's the same story for mobile plans. You won't find a brand-new iPhone 8 from any Australian telco, but Telstra MVNO numobile will hook you up with a like-new refurbished iPhone 8 64GB which you can pay off over time like any other phone plan. Here's a quick glance at numobile's iPhone 8 plans, followed by the most popular iPhone 12 plans available.

As you might expect in generational handset comparisons that are a few years apart, the iPhone 8 doesn’t come out on top in too many categories. In fact, unless you’re looking to score an iPhone handset for a budget price, we reckon you should absolutely consider the extra dollars an investment and opt for the iPhone 12.

iPhone 8 and 8 Plus vs iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 12

iPhone 8
iPhone 8 Plus
iPhone 12 Mini
iPhone 12

Price (RRP)

$979 (64GB)
$1,229 (256GB)

$1,149 (64GB)
$1,399 (256GB)

$1,199 (64GB)
$1,279 (128GB)
$1,449 (256GB)

$1,349 (64GB)
$1,429 (128GB)
$1,599 (256GB)

Release date

22 September 2017

22 September 2017

13 November 2020

23 October 2020

Display

4.7-inch Retina HD display

5.5-inch Retina HD display

5.4-inch all-screen OLED Super Retina XDR display

6.1-inch all-screen OLED Super Retina XDR display

Resolution

1334x750 @ 326 ppi

1920x1080 @ 401 ppi

2340x1080 @ 476 ppi

2532x1170 @ 460 ppi

Processor

A11 Bionic chip (64-bit architecture)

A11 Bionic chip (64-bit architecture)

A14 Bionic chip (next-generation Neural Engine)

A14 Bionic chip (next-generation Neural Engine)

Memory (RAM)

2GB

3GB

TBA

TBA

Storage capacity

64GB
256GB

64GB
256GB

64GB
128GB
256GB

64GB
128GB
256GB

Rear camera

12MP camera
5x digital zoom

Dual 12MP Wide and Telephoto cameras
Optical zoom
10x digital zoom

Dual 12MP Ultra Wide and Wide cameras
2x optical zoom (out)
5x digital zoom

Dual 12MP Ultra Wide and Wide cameras
2x optical zoom (out)
5x digital zoom

Rear video

Up to 4K @ 60fps

Up to 4K @ 60fps

HDR video with Dolby Vision @ 30fps
4K video @ 60fps

HDR video with Dolby Vision @ 30fps
4K video @ 60fps

Front camera

7MP FaceTime HD camera

7MP FaceTime HD camera

12MP TrueDepth Camera

12MP TrueDepth Camera

Front video

1080p HD

1080p HD

HDR video with Dolby Vision @ 30fps
4K video @ 60fps

HDR video with Dolby Vision @ 30fps
4K video @ 60fps

Weight

148g

202g

133g

162g

Water and dust resistance

Rated IP67

Rated IP67

Rated IP68

Rated IP68

Battery

Internet use: up to 12 hours
Video playback (streamed): up to 13 hours
Audio playback: up to 40 hours

Internet use: up to 13 hours
Video playback (streamed): up to 14 hours
Audio playback: up to 60 hours

Video playback: up to 15 hours
Video playback (streamed): up to 10 hours
Audio playback: up to 50 hours

Video playback: up to 17 hours
Video playback (streamed): up to 11 hours
Audio playback: up to 65 hours

Fast charge

Up top 50% in 30 mins

Up top 50% in 30 mins

Up to 50% charge in 30 mins (20W adapter or higher)

Up to 50% charge in 30 mins (20W adapter or higher)

Operating system

iOS 14

iOS 14

iOS 14

iOS 14

Connectivity

4G
WiFi 5
Bluetooth 5.0

4G
WiFi 5
Bluetooth 5.0

5G
WiFi 6
Bluetooth 5.0

5G
WiFi 6
Bluetooth 5.0

iPhone 8 vs iPhone 12 Mini

We’re basing this comparison purely based on the fact these are entry-level handsets with the smallest screen size across generations. If cost is the only determining factor, you should absolutely opt for an iPhone 8. Whether you pick the 64GB base model or go for the 256GB upgrade, you can expect to pay a whole lot less: Kogan has both the iPhone 8 64GB and iPhone 8 256GB listed for $769 at the time of writing. Depending on your capacity preference, that’s either a $430 or $730 saving.

Outside of the cheapest price, pretty much everything else points to an iPhone 12 Mini upgrade. The iPhone 12 Mini’s screen is bigger (5.4 inches vs 4.7 inches), prettier (OLED Super Retina XDR vs Retina HD), and has a higher resolution (2340x1080 @ 476 pixels per inch, ppi, vs 1344x750 @ 326ppi).

While the system memory (RAM) of the iPhone 12 Mini is currently unknown (Apple is secretive about such things), the A14 processor powering the Mini is three generations better than the iPhone 8’s A11. For internal capacity, things are more even with both iPhones offering 64GB and 256GB models, but the iPhone 12 also offers a 128GB handset that’s only $80 more than the 64GB variant.

Everything about the cameras on the iPhone 12 is better than the iPhone 8. For starters, a dual 12MP rear camera with 2x optical zoom beats the singular 12MP iPhone 8 rear camera. The same is true of the 12MP TrueDepth front camera on the iPhone 12 vs the 7MP FaceTime HD camera on the iPhone 8. The iPhone 12 can record video in HDR with Dolby Vision @ 30 frames per second (fps), but while the iPhone 8’s rear camera can achieve 4K @ 60fps, the front camera can only hit 1080p compared to the 4K offering on the iPhone 12.

In terms of build, the iPhone 12 Mini is lighter (133g) than the iPhone 8 (148g) and has an IP68 water- and dust-resistance rating, compared to the iPhone 8’s IP67 equivalent. While fast charge is negligible in terms of the percentage-per-minutes ratio, the battery comparison isn’t entirely fair because Apple changed the way it rates its batteries since the release of the iPhone 8. For comparable metrics, though, the iPhone 8 has better longevity for streaming videos on 4G (13 hours) vs the 10 hours of 5G streaming on the iPhone 12 Mini, but the iPhone 12 boasts up to 50 hours of playback compared to the 40 hours on the iPhone 8. Consider that a draw.

Speaking of the whole 4G-vs-5G debate, the iPhone 12 wins out because it has 5G support, plus it also includes WiFi 6, whereas the iPhone 8 uses WiFi 5 (802.11ac). Still, despite the dominance of the iPhone 12 Mini in these comparisons, it’s great to see that the iPhone 8 can be upgraded to the latest iOS 14 operating system.

Winner: iPhone 12 Mini

Play Video

iPhone 8 Plus vs iPhone 12

It’s nearly an identical tale as above for the iPhone 8 Plus vs iPhone 12 comparison. Kogan has new
iPhone 8 Plus 64GB models listed from around $579, and you can pick up an iPhone 8 Plus 256GB model for around $659. That’s either saving of around $770 or $940, which is no small thing. If you want to save bucks and you’re in the market for an iPhone, you should consider the still great iPhone 8 Plus.

That said, if you’re looking to upgrade from an iPhone 8 Plus, you’ll notice the difference immediately. The screen is a 6.1-inch all-screen OLED Super Retina XDR display on the iPhone 12 and a noticeably smaller 5.1-inch Retina HD Display on the iPhone 8 Plus. It’s not just prettier, the iPhone 12 also boasts a better resolution (2532x1170 vs 1920x1080) and more pixels per inch (ppi), which makes the screen easier on the eye (460 ppi vs 401 ppi).

All of this eye candy is powered by the A14 chipset inside the iPhone 12, which has three generations of hardware improvements over the ageing A11 inside the iPhone 8 Plus. While the total memory for the iPhone 12 has not been divulged, the iPhone 12 has a 128GB internal storage capacity option nestled between the identical 64GB and 256GB capacities on offer from the iPhone 8 Plus.

The iPhone 8 Plus takes a minor win in the rear-camera comparison, boasting 10x digital zoom compared to the iPhone 12’s 5x digital zoom. That said, the iPhone 12 offers ultra-wide whereas the iPhone 8 Plus only offers wide photography on the rear camera, not to mention the newer iPhone 12 has benefited from a few years of refinements on top of the identical megapixel count. The iPhone 12 also offers HDR recording with Dolby Vision at 30 frames per second (fps), which isn’t available on the iPhone 8 Plus.

The front camera is where the iPhone 12 takes a more noticeable lead, with a 12MP TrueDepth offering compared to the 7MP FaceTime HD camera on offer in the iPhone 8 Plus. This iPhone 12 front camera is capable of that same HDR video recording with Dolby Vision at 30fps, and it can also record at 4K 60fps, which is only achievable on the iPhone 8’s rear camera.

While the weight gap between the iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 8 wasn’t too big, there’s a 40-gram difference between the iPhone 12’s 162g and the iPhone 8 Plus’s 202g. On top of this, the iPhone 12 is also rated IP68 for water and dust resistance, whereas the iPhone 8 Plus is only rated at IP67.

The battery comparison may not be one-as-to-one because Apple has ditched its ‘internet use’ metric in recent years, but the iPhone 8 Plus wins the comparison for video streaming (14 hours vs 11 hours), but the iPhone 12 takes back ground on the audio-playback comparison (65 hours vs 60 hours). It’s important to reiterate that because the iPhone 12 is a 5G handset, battery life is expected to be lower in side-by-side comparisons with 4G smartphones.

Speaking of connectivity, the iPhone 12 also beats the iPhone 8 Plus here, too, with not only future-proofed 5G support (which you can use today if you’re in the right area), it also has WiFi 6, which is the latest wireless protocol that boasts some impressive perks over the WiFi 5 inside the iPhone 8 Plus.

As with the recommendation above, the iPhone 12 comes out sparkling in the comparison, and it’s absolutely worth considering an upgrade or, if you’re comparing an iPhone 8 Plus with an iPhone 12, opting for the newer model (unless price is the main factor).

Winner: iPhone 12

iPhone 12 plans

iPhone 12 plans are available through Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. Here's a quick glance at some of the most popular plans currently available.

iPhone 8 plans

As you'd expect for a three-year old phone, iPhone 8 plans have mostly disappeared from the Australian market. With that said, you can pick-up a bargain on a refurbished model with numobile, a telco that wheels and deals refurb handsets and SIM plans. It's more or less like any other phone plan except you're getting a refurbished iPhone, a like-new handset rebuilt from old parts.

Popular SIM Only iPhone plans

If you're buying an iPhone 12 outright, these are the most popular SIM Only plans you can buy today.

Nathan Lawrence
Written by
Nathan Lawrence
Nathan Lawrence has been banging out passionate tech and gaming words for more than 11 years. These days, you can find his work on outlets like IGN, STACK, Fandom, Red Bull and AusGamers. Nathan adores PC gaming and the proof of his first-person-shooter prowess is at the top of a Battlefield V scoreboard.

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