Will Apple reset the iPhone naming scheme in 2021?
Before we begin, we need to make a couple of assumptions. First, that the next iPhone will be the iPhone 12 and then that the one after it won’t be the iPhone 12S. That means three consecutive generations without an “S” model, something that hasn’t happened in the iPhone’s history yet. If there is an iPhone 11S and a 12S after it, our theorycrafting will still be relevant. It’s just that these predictions won’t materialize until a couple of years later, perhaps in 2023.
So, let’s assume that one way or another, Apple has reached the point where iPhone 13 ist the next logical model number. Will we ever see that happening? Perhaps not. Here’s why.
Superstitions are alive and thriving in the 21st century
We all know that the number 13 is connected to bad luck in modern culture. But you might be surprised to what extent people go to avoid it. Many buildings, for example, don’t have a 13th floor. That could be either due to the beliefs of the owners or because people wouldn’t want to use an office or a hotel room/apartment on the “fatal” floor.
Avoiding the iPhone 13 might not be the first time a number was skipped because of its esoteric value. Just a few years ago, Apple released the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X at the same time, leaving people wondering what happened with 9. One theory is that it was because the Japanese word for 9 is pronounced the same way as the word that means agony or torture. iPhones are super popular in Japan where Apple holds about 50% of the market share. It seems very likely that Apple chose to skip 9 in order to keep its Japanese customers happy while the rest of the world didn’t really care about the jump to ten anyway.
On the other hand, the number doesn’t seem to be a concern if we look at iOS 13. However, the specific number of the version of iOS has never been as important as the names of the iPhones themselves. After all, iOS is not something people buy, it just comes with their phones.
But bad mojo isn’t the only thing that might deter Apple from using the number 13 as a model number.
The “teens” are just too long
All the single digits and ten, eleven, twelve are relatively short words and easy to pronounce. When you get to thirteen, however, things change. The addition might not seem much, but it could be just enough to tip the naming scheme overboard. Imagine saying “I have the iPhone 13S Pro Max.” Things get even worse if we reach the high-teens like seventeen. It’s basically a tongue-twister at this point.
Other companies like Huawei, for example, avoided reaching 13 by jumping from 10 to 20 to 30. Eventually, those short numbers will run out as well, however. So, what’s the solution then?
Time to start fresh
Probably the likeliest solution is that Apple will reset the numbering altogether. Whether the new era will begin with iPhone (2021), iPhone 1 or with simply iPhone, that’s anyone’s guess. By that point, at least 14 years would have passed since the release of the original iPhone so it’s not like anyone will confuse the two devices. To make the new beginning more appropriate, Apple will hopefully pair it with a major change in its iPhones (perhaps the notch will finally be gone for good).
With some of its other products like the iPad or MacBook laptops, Apple has mostly stayed away from numbering, adding the year or generation in parenthesis instead. But if it has to add the year to every new iPhone the naming might become even more cumbersome than it would have been with teen numbers. Maybe we can see iPhone numbers gone if at some point in the future Apple decides that there’s no need to have a smartphone release every year. That moment seems to be far into the future for now.
What other alternatives are there? Adding a name to each phone? The iPhone Steve? Sounds silly, plus Apple has never done something like this before.
iPhone X1? 1X? The iPhone 1A? That sounds like a building number, plus it makes the name heavier which is what Apple will be trying to avoid in the first place.
So, will we see a reset after the iPhone 12 or will Apple keep going until the iPhone 20 and reset then? Or perhaps in 20 years, we’ll be talking about the iPhone 31. As always, tell us what you think in the comments below!