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Op-Ed: Deciding On A Name For Apple's Next iPhone Is Not So Simple

Op-Ed: Deciding On A Name For Apple's Next iPhone Is Not So Simple

July 7, 2014
Sometime in September, Tim Cook or one of his executives will unveil the next iPhone. When they do, the device is likely to be called the “iPhone 6.” Or the “iPhone Air.” Or something else entirely. In recent weeks, as iPhone rumors have grown, I began to ponder what the next iPhone should be called. Apple’s decision is an important one and not just to the company’s marketing team.

The iPhone 6

At AppAdvice, we continue to call Apple’s next handset the iPhone 6. We do so because it’s the name that makes the most sense historically. This doesn’t mean it’s the best name for the device. As The Motley Fool recently highlighted, Apple’s naming conventions for the iPhone make little sense. The iPhone 6 won’t be the sixth smartphone from the company, or even the seventh. Instead, it will be the ninth overall. They note:
Longtime Apple watchers may remember that when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone 3GS in 2009, the "S" stood for "speed." Apple has stuck with this pattern for three tick-tock cycles, but it's quickly proving unsustainable in the long run. At this rate, in four years the 12th-generation iPhone would be called the "iPhone 8."
iPhones: 2007 - present
  • 2007: iPhone
  • 2008: iPhone 3G
  • 2009: iPhone 3GS
  • 2010: iPhone 4
  • 2011: iPhone 4s
  • 2012: iPhone 5
  • 2013: iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c

The iPhone Air

Apple naming its next flagship device the iPhone Air makes a lot of sense, especially after the 2013 introduction of the iPad Air. However, Apple’s iPad naming conventions have never been straightforward. After the first iPad was launched in 2010, the iPad 2 followed. From there, things got confusing. In the spring of 2012, the New iPad launched. Just seven months later, the iPad with Retina display made its debut. At the same time, the first-generation iPad mini was launched. iPads: 2010 - present
  • 2010: iPad
  • 2011: iPad 2
  • 2012: the New iPad
  • 2013: iPad with Retina display, iPad mini
  • 2014: iPad Air, iPad mini with Retina display

Two new iPhones?

One final wrinkle in all of this is the likelihood that Apple unveils two new handsets this fall. If this is the case, the long-rumored 4.7-inch model would be the ninth one produced, while the 5.5-inch model would be the 10th.

My choice

Until recently, I was convinced that Apple should ditch adding numbers to iPhone names. Now, I’m not so sure. My change of heart occurred after visiting my local Staples and seeing how the retailer was marketing iPads. While Apple’s current-generation tablet was clearly marked “iPad Air,” the iPad with Retina display was not. The tag said: “iPad - Retina.” I report on Apple products every day and know the difference between each device. However, the display at Staples confused me. Based on this experience, I hope Apple calls the 4.7-inch handset the iPhone 6, while it introduces the iPhone Air moniker for the 5.5-inch model. Otherwise, chaos could reign. Image credit: TechRadar

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