Next up, iPhone 9. Why would Apple name any phone that?

It's the time of year when one must think about what Apple's next phone -- or phones -- will be called. The possibilities are both endless and painful.

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It seems so long ago, but, simultaneously, like yesterday, too.

The great debate was in full flow exactly this time last year.

Apple would soon release an iPhone 8, the smart rumors declared. Together, that is, with an iPhone 7S and a 7 Plus.

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This turned out to be bunkum with a dash of balderdash.

And now, I'm supposed to believe that Cupertino will now release an iPhone 9, which, my math and philosophy schooling tells me, suggests subtraction.

Apple never subtracts. Everything is always better than the last one. Failing that, it's different. It's never lesser.

Why, then, would Apple call its new, flagship(ish) phone iPhone 9?

Also: Photos: Apple iPhone models through the years TechRepublic

Why would you release a 9 after a 10 -- or, rather, an X?

Ah, but you'll tell me there'll be three phones. Ergo, one of the smaller, cheaper phones might be iPhone 9.

Oh, I suppose. But this still sounds like less.

Let's assume -- oh, come on, it's all assumption -- that Apple will release smaller and bigger versions of the iPhone X, as well as a completely new(ish) phone.

So, one could be iPhone XS, the other iPhone XL. And the big one could be iPhone XI. Or, of course, iPhone 11.

Also: When will Apple announce the new 2018 iPhones? CNET

Now doesn't that all have a lovely ring to it?

Extra small, extra large -- but definitely extra -- and a, um, revolutionary new one.

See? Positive thinking.

Detractors will scold me for my apparent lack of Latin. iPhone XL, they'll sniff, would be iPhone 40.

They'll insist it has to be iPhone X Plus, because that would follow the convention of previous pluses like the iPhone 8 Plus.

But it's cumbersome. And why would you want a cumbersome name for your potentially most cumbersome phone?

My colleague Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, in his rumor roundup, offers other variations he's heard in the hills: iPhone X2, for example.

Also: All the 2018 iPhone rumors: Price, specs, release date CNET

Even iPhone 2018 gets a mention.

Other permutations that have floated in the iEther include a lineup of iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Plus, and iPhone 9, which does make that poor 9 seem like the one-legged, redheaded stepchild that inspires pity, but no love at all.

Some have continued to mutter that there will now be an iPhone Pro, as phones and computers become, just like humans and robots, one. Oh, but that would make the phone sound much less human-friendly and a little too businesslike.

Others have muttered a return of the SE moniker to create iPhone X SE. A little close to iPhone Ecstasy, surely. Which, depending on your perspective, could make it a must-have.

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Please, I won't threaten to eat my hat, wear a bikini in a cathedral, or even buy a Motorola if Apple releases a 9.

It would, though, be a little admission that Apple has better things to think about than what to name its phones.

But let's leave on an uplifting note, as Tim Cook always does while breathing a sigh of relief that another tiresome show is over.

What if there are four new phones?

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