Will It Be Called iPhone 9? Apple May Ditch the Numerical Naming Conventions

What will September bring?

Unsplash / Noah Silliman

Since the release of the mother of all iPhones in 2007, Apple’s signature smartphones followed a sequential order. But that all changed with the 10-year anniversary launch of the iPhone X, or as every Apple executive wants you to say it — the iPhone “Ten.”

Skipping from the iPhone 8 to the X threw most for a loop: Will Apple continue counting up? Will it backtrack for the iPhone 9? Or will it the eleventh year of iPhones mark the beginning of all-new names?

As this year’s Apple September event approaches, rumors and leaks have been picking up steam. But much like every previous announcement, the Cupertino-based company has kept the names of the anticipated handset under lock and key. However, pulling from some chatter, past decisions, and what the iPhone aficionados have been discussing, we can get an idea of what Apple might just name its next iPhone.

This year's rumored iPhones compared to 2017's releases.


iPhone Names: Continue with Digits or Reinvent the Wheel?

Will we see Tim Cook announce an iPhone 9 or will the CEO throw another curve ball?

For the most part, rumors have come to the consensus that Apple will launch a 6.1-inch LCD model and two 6.5 and 5.8-inch OLED devices. These have been unofficially dubbed the iPhone 9, iPhone X Plus, and iPhone X2.

Guggenheim Partners research analyst Robert Cihra thinks Apple has something totally different planned for the naming of the new iPhone:

“Potentially simpler branding coming with no more numbering,” Cihra commented in a note to investors earlier this year. “After some mismatched mix with the latest iPhone 6 vs. 7 vs. 8 vs. X, we think Apple may use this upcoming cycle to formally change its iPhone naming/branding pattern to now simply start calling the mid-market LCD-based iPhone ‘iPhone’ (no longer numbering them), while keeping the high-end identified by its ‘X.’”

Could 2018 see the rebirth of the iPhone SE?

Unsplash / Omar Prestwich

Having the iPhone 9 be newer than the iPhone X is undoubtedly confusing, but the minimalistic naming conventions suggested by Cihra is even more bewildering. Seeing as the so-called iPhone 9 might be a lot like the iPhone SE of 2016, I believe Apple will skip 9 and name the 6.1-inch model either the iPhone SE 2 or the iPhone SE 2018 — as suggested by smartphone leaker Evan Blass in May.

iPhone Names: “Plus” Over “S”?

Last year’s iPhone releases did away with the “S” models of years past and ran with only “Plus” variants. I also believe this change is here to stay.

Based on prior releases, it makes sense that the upcoming 6.5-inch OLED model would be called the iPhone X Plus based on its predicted larger screen. This handset has been by far the most widely accepted name out of all three during this year’s rumor cycle — it wouldn’t be a surprise to many if the next iPhone ended up being called the iPhone SE 2.

The iPhone X could have kickstarted a whole new era of iPhone names.

Unsplash / Alexandre Godreau

But where does that leave the 5.8-inch model? This variant has been the most elusive and I think “iPhone X2” is a massive eyesore. The name of this specific model is still in the air but I wouldn’t be surprised if Tim Cook unveils it at the iPhone XI and pronounces it “eleven,” for the iPhone’s eleventh anniversary and to continue the Roman numeral naming convention that the iPhone X seems to have begun.

Strap in, this year could bring a massive pivot to how iPhones have always been named.

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