New iPhone: Complicated new naming system for latest Apple phones revealed, as 'iPhone XS Max' leaks

The names are as complicated as the line-up

Andrew Griffin
Wednesday 12 September 2018 15:17 BST
The new iPhone: Preview

The name of Apple's three brand new iPhones may have been revealed – and with them some hints at the future of the phone.

Apple's line-up will be more complicated than ever this year, with three phones being released at once in a way Apple has not done before. There will be an updated version of the iPhone X, a bigger version of that same phone, and a cheaper model that lies in the middle in terms of size but leaves out many of the more premium features.

That complicated line-up has also led to other kinds of difficulties, like what to name the phones. Until the iPhone X, Apple progressed on a relatively obvious route of simply increasing the number in a phone's name, or adding an "s" to it, but that is much harder with the current naming scheme.

Apple is in fact going to be adding an "s" to the name, it appears. But that is where the obvious parts of the naming line-up end, with three phones each taking interesting monikers according to various leaks.

First up is the iPhone XS, which is the updated version of the current iPhone and will feature much of the same design. This name is a little confusing – the "X" is pronounced "10", but the S is pronounced as a letter – but appears to have been confirmed through leaked marketing materials.

Many had suggested that the company could go with something like XI, or simply drop the numbering system. And it has already drawn mockery for the fact it sounds like "excess", which is an interesting association to make for one of the most expensive mainstream phones in the world.

Then comes the larger version of the iPhone XS – according to multiple reports, the iPhone XS Max. Apple has referred to all of its larger phones since it started making them with the iPhone 6 as "Plus", but appears to be dropping that name in favour of the new branding.

And last – though probably revealed first at Apple's keynote – is the cheaper phone, which is rumoured to be called "iPhone Xc". This would make sense and recalls the history of the iPhone: alongside the release of the iPhone 5s, it launched the 5s, which was a less premium version of the same handset.

Interestingly, the "c" in that name was always taken to mean "colour", in reference to the fact that the phone came in a range of different hues that stood in marked contrast to the more muted and premium 5s. It is not clear whether the Xc will come in a range of colours of its own, or if Apple is simply ignoring that history, perhaps taking it to mean "cheaper".

Further complicating the naming system is the expectation that Apple will at some point choose to drop it. Apple refers to the iPad, for instance, as simply iPad or iPad Pro and by their screen sizes – something that is expected to happen to the iPhone too, though it is not clear when and is complicated by the fact Apple goes on to sell older iPhones for many years.

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