Apple faces a “naming conundrum” ahead of the release of its three 2018 iPhones and is considering tweaking some key branding conventions, Bloomberg reports today. While the devices have been rumored under names such as iPhone 9, iPhone 11, and iPhone 11 Plus, company marketers have reportedly “altered the names multiple times” and are apparently leaning toward “iPhone Xs” for the premium models, as well as dropping the largest model’s “Plus” designation.
As the sequels to today’s 5.8-inch OLED-screened iPhone X, the “iPhone Xs” and “iPhone Xs Plus” would follow Apple’s standard naming procedures, which have added “s” tags onto each phone that shared a chassis with the prior year’s model but featured internal improvements. All three phones are expected to look like the notched iPhone X, but the Xs models are said to feature improved processing speed and camera performance, thanks in part to a new Apple A12 processor.
But the “Xs” name looks like “excess,” suggesting “too much,” or alternately like “extra small.” Since Apple has said that “iPhone X” should be pronounced “iPhone 10,” it will face interesting marketing challenges with that name in any case.
Adding to the complication, Apple is apparently weighing discontinuation of the “Plus” name for the larger 6.5-inch iPhone X model. This would leave the two versions of the iPhone Xs to be differentiated merely by a size descriptor, like the iPad Pro, MacBook Pro, and Apple Watch. Apple is apparently not considering another letter, such as “iPhone XsL,” which might otherwise indicate a larger model.
The third challenge, only briefly hinted at by Bloomberg, is the introduction of a cheaper model with a 6.1-inch screen — a size that’s in the middle of the two Xs models. On the one hand, Apple could simply call this phone the “iPhone 9,” clearly placing it below its flagship model and filling in the gap that currently exists between the iPhone 8 and iPhone X.
But the less expensive model is expected to share almost all of the key features of the iPhone X, only using LCD rather than OLED for the screen, aluminum instead of steel for its frame, and a single rear camera rather than two year cameras. It is also expected to come in a wider variety of colors, although Bloomberg adds a new wrinkle: “The cheaper version’s aluminum edges won’t necessarily be the same color as the colored glass back, simplifying production.”
Since Apple previously used a “c” designation to denote the less expensive, colorful iPhone 5c, the new phone could easily be called “iPhone Xc.” However, the plastic-bodied 5c was generally considered to be a flop for the company.
Apple’s planned aluminum and glass housing may enable the new model to avoid its predecessor’s fate, regardless of its name. Additionally, the company is said to be planning dual-SIM support for both this model and the larger iPhone Xs — a feature that could help the more affordable phone’s sales in India and China, where it’s more common for users to frequently switch between two SIMs for either business or travel. A prior report claimed that the feature could be exclusive to the Chinese mainland.