Thoughts on iPhone Naming

iPhone X

It’s a stupid thing to get upset over, but I’ve always been perplexed with how Apple has named their mobile devices. And over the years, I have not been the only one who has questioned these moves.

In previous years, you’ve had your new number signify a new design (ie. iPhone 4) and an “S” generation retaining the same design with refined internals and new software features (ie. iPhone 4S). Last year’s iPhone 7 was the first indicator that this naming convention was bound for change. Unlike its predecessors, iPhone 7 carried over the previous generation’s design (iPhone 6) with minor outside appearance changes, making it the first new numbered iPhone to not have a new-body design. The latest iPhone’s announced, iPhone 8 and iPhone X, spark even more questions about the future of iPhone naming.

iPhone 8 and iPhone X

During the course of 2017, I found it interesting that the Apple rumor sites were referencing the next generation iPhone as the iPhone 8. After each new article that popped up, I’d ask myself “What did they know to feel so comfortable writing about the next iPhone as the iPhone 8 versus the iPhone 7S?”.

They ultimately were correct on the name. Most sites referenced the iPhone X leaks as the iPhone 8. But at the time these rumors were coming out, it seemed like an interesting bet they were making. I’d heavily wager that the name was a controlled leak to the media early on to make sure we all knew the next phone would not be called the 7S.


While the naming choice seemed obvious since Apple was marking ten years since iPhone’s introduction, iPhone X almost stayed a secret right up to the event. Unfortunately, a disgruntled Apple employee leaked the GM build of iOS 11 which gave us a treasure-trove of last-minute new information including the name.

7S and 9

Why no 7S and what happened to 9?

My theory is that this is the last year Apple will use numbers to name its iPhones.

If there was any time to switch to a standard and pro model naming convention, it’s now.

And if my theory holds up, it also makes sense why they didn’t go with 7S. Ending the number-naming scheme on two new numbers makes more sense. (It also doesn’t hurt that Samsung is currently on the number eight as well.)

iPhone and iPhone Pro

When Steve Jobs cut down Apple’s product line into the famous quadrants, Macs became consumer and professional and named accordingly. This was something that became ingrained in Apple’s DNA and it doesn’t surprise me that this has translated well for iPad (which used to be a huge offender of odd naming). It’s now time for it to come to iPhone.