Apple's nonexistent iPhone naming scheme: Will next one be the iPhone 6, 5 or 4G?

Summary:There are always iPhone rumors and I get questions from people asking if they should wait for the next one. As I think about it, I am left wondering if there is even an iPhone naming convention I can use to discuss the next model.

Now that the iPad 3 (yes, that is what Apple should call it) is out and available we are seeing even more rumors of the next iPhone. I am also getting lots of questions from coworkers and readers about the next iPhone wondering if they should wait or get the iPhone 4S now. Talking about this with them led to me thinking about the iPhone naming convention and realizing there really isn't one so I thought it would be fun to have a discussion about it.

Apple launched the first iPhone simply as the iPhone. It was a revolutionary device, primarily due to the fluid user interface since it was technically behind most other smartphones (wireless radio support, low res camera, etc.) and had no 3rd party application support. Apple's next release was the iPhone 3G that included support for 3G wireless networks and led us to believe that future iPhone models would follow this naming scheme. That was not the case though as the iPhone 3GS came next with no official explanation for the S suffix. Then we had the iPhone 4 with no support for any 4G technologies and the number 4 was likely simply to denote it was the 4th iPhone in the series. However, that naming scheme only lasted for one device as the 5th iPhone was released as the iPhone 4S. Here is the Apple iPhone line in summary:

  1. iPhone: First model with EDGE support and 2 megapixel camera
  2. iPhone 3G: Second model that added 3G wireless support
  3. iPhone 3GS: Third model with 3 megapixel camera, faster processor, higher capacity
  4. iPhone 4: Fourth model with 5 megapixel camera, faster processor, front facing camera, Retina Display
  5. iPhone 4S: Fifth model with 8 megapixel camera, SIRI support, front facing camera, Retina Display

The question then becomes, "Will the next iPhone be called the iPhone 5, iPhone 6, iPhone 4G, or something else?" Everyone currently talks about the rumors as the iPhone 5, yet the iPhone 4 was the only model so far that had a name that matched the actual number in the iPhone series. If people are using that naming convention, then this rumored model should be referred to as the iPhone 6.

I don't believe the rumors of a much larger display in the next iPhone and think it will be an incremental update with 4G LTE support, obviously an updated processor, and maybe an updated camera with some tweaks to the OS.

  • Will Apple go with a wireless technology convention and name it the iPhone 4G or iPhone LTE?
  • Will Apple go with a numbering scheme and name it the iPhone 6?
  • Will Apple just pick the next number in the line and call it the iPhone 5?
  • Will Apple throw all numbers out the window like they did with the iPad and just call it the new iPhone? This one is lame and like the iPad causes all sorts of confusion for tech writers.

Friday's are generally light news days so I thought it would be fun to try to figure out what the heck Apple was thinking with the iPhone naming convention and what they might come up with for the next iPhone.

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Topics: iPhone, Apple, Hardware, Mobility, Smartphones

About

Matthew Miller started using a mobile devices in 1997 and has been writing news, reviews, and opinion pieces ever since. He is a co-host with GigaOM's Kevin Tofel on the MobileTechRoundup podcast and an author of three Wiley Companion series books. Matthew started using mobile devices with a US Robotics Pilot 1000 and has owned over 200 d... Full Bio

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