New iPhone Names: What Makes Sense

Series: Sense of iPhones

Part 1 of 3

Originally, iPhone names were simple. The first model, in June 2007, was iPhone.

Today, with Apple expected to announce three new top-end iPhones, their names have been the subject of rapidly evolving rumors, speculation and purported leaks.

All the names suggested — including iPhone Xs, iPhone Xc and iPhone Xs Max — would mar Apple’s history of relatively straightforward names.

Apple should follow the spare approach it uses in design for naming as well, if not this year then next.

Call the regular-size phone with 5.8-inch OLED screen the iPhone.

This would keep the iPhone X a one-year special, celebrating 10 years of iPhones and future approaches to the signature smartphone.

Name the extra-large, 6.5-inch OLED version the iPhone Plus. The Plus name fits the size.

The likely lower-cost model, with 6.1-inch LCD screen and only one rear camera, should be called the iPhone L — for LCD.

These suggestions solve an even larger problem: what to do for new phone names in September 2019. An iPhone X2, followed by an iPhone X2s a year later? That would be a greater mess.

The XS Nightclub at the Wynn hotel in Las Vegas implies “excess,” which could be undesirable with the suffix for an iPhone Xs, should Apple release a model with that name.

John Gruber, writer of the Daring Fireball website, pointed out additional problems with the iPhone Xs name on his podcast, “The Talk Show.” He spoke Sept. 4 on Episode 229 at about 45 minutes and 35 seconds (in Overcast player). Those who pronounce the X as the letter rather than the Roman numeral are likely to pronounce Xs as “excess” rather than “10 S,” Gruber said.

“I don’t think they want people calling it the iPhone Xs or I would think they wouldn’t,” Gruber said. “There’s a nightclub in Las Vegas at the Wynn. I’m not a nightclub person, but you can’t go to the Wynn and not see the ads for it, called XS. The whole reason they named the night club XS is because it sounds like ‘excess,’ which is what they want associated with their expensive, crazy, big-name DJ nightclub.”

Additionally, writer and podcaster Jason Snell says that those who do pronounce the X as “10” would be just as likely to call a Xs the “tennis.”

The older models used a naming rationale that could be understood easily.

The June 2007 original was iPhone.

June 2008 brought the iPhone 3G, denoting its ability to receive 3G cellular data.

The iPhone 3GS came in June 2009, with the S standing for speed brought by faster components within.

The next year was simpler with the iPhone 4. A numerical cadence seemed apparent.

However, in October 2011, the new phone was called the iPhone 4S. Every other year would bring an S phone.

The low-cost, plastic-body iPhone 5C joined the 5S when they were released in September 2013. The C stood for color, a variety of which were available.

The iPhone 6 brought larger sizes. The iPhone 6 was a regular-size phone but larger than its small iPhone 5S predecessor. The extra-large version was the iPhone 6 Plus.

The clearly named iPhone SE succeeded the iPhone 5S, with essentially the same phone housing and updated-and-faster processing parts inside.

Keep it simple, Apple. There should be no need for a deep understanding of the Roman numeral system, or convoluted combinations of letters and numbers.


Part 2: New iPhone Prices: What Makes Sense

Part 3: New iPhone Numbers: What Makes Sense

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