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

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

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  • Not...

    Just "new iPhone" then?
  • Not that it matters....

    They will sell a ton of them even if it is called the iPhone Magic Box.
  • What's the name of the latest...

    iPod, iPod Touch, iMac, MacBook...?

    If it only needs a new name to prevent "confusion for tech writers..."
  • Short and Long Term Prognostications

    Apple has eschewed product numbers, so at some point the numbering disappears. Later this year? By taking Page 153 of "Squeak A Quick Trip to Objectland" and counting the vowels in Jim's part of the dialog with Objective Wizard, where an odd number means no version number for the next model, I get.... / insert drum roll tag / ...42 (wow... one of the mystic numbers...) so, yes, there will be a number.

    I know, science is pretty awesome.

    More seriously, I keep hearing the pundits say that 4G impacts battery life and they suspect that Apple would not release an iPhone with decreased battery life as compared to the prior model. Everyone posits low-powered LTE chips, but they have to because apparently they don't exist yet. If the chips don't materialize this summer, then the decision is between staying behind with 3G or increasing battery capacity, best accomplished with a larger phone and best sold by having a bigger screen.
  • My guess...

    Just like the iPad, it will be called the new iPhone. Just lIke there's no iMac's, Mac mini's designated by a iteration number, they'll do the same with the iPhone. It's the Apple way.
    • Ding ding!

      Comment thread over. This is extremely obvious that this is what Apple will do.. no more ridiculous "disappointment" in what the name is.. it's the "iPhone" and that's it.. you would think this would be obvious to tech writers, guess not.
  • Who the hell cares???? Are you actually getting Paid for this??/

    Who the hell cares what the name is???? Are you actually that bored that you have nothing to write about. Is an Iphone. What's the big deal about the name? I can't believe that Cnet is actually paying you for being such an incompetent writer...You should get fired for writing this junk. If you want to write about tech. Write about tech...Not the name of a future device. WTH??????
  • Drumroll please...

    The new iPhone.
    Deal with it.
    A Hylian Human