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After three years with the same iPhone design, Apple fans will finally get what they want in 2017. Rumors suggest Apple is planning to release not one, not even two, but three redesigned iPhone models this year. One of them is expected to be updates to the iPhone 7, and the second will be an updated iPhone 7 Plus. Rather than sticking with the same design as has been the case in the past, however, both of these phones are expected to get makeovers that include glass housings to enable wireless charging. Then, the star of the show will be a third new iPhone model that features a top-to-bottom redesign. It'll ditch the physical home button so that the new OLED display can occupy as much of the phone's front side as possible, and it'll have a Touch ID fingerprint sensor embedded beneath the screen. The new crown jewel of the iPhone lineup is also expected to have a new dual-lens camera that marks a big upgrade over 2016's iPhone 7 Plus.
We know plenty about Apple's upcoming new iPhones, indeed — but there's one thing that everyone has been getting all wrong ever since details first began leaking last year.
Remember the gorgeous "iPhone 8" mockup we saw appear in a video earlier this week? That's almost certainly not an iPhone 8. It's been a long time coming, but 2017 is shaping up to be the year that Apple finally switches up its naming scheme for the iPhone lineup.
Let's think about it for a moment.
Unless dozens of independent reports are wrong, Apple plans to release three new iPhone models this year. Tech blogs have to refer to them by some names, and they've landed on names that seem logical at first glance. But they're not logical at all.
Going by the names we've all been using, here's what Apple's 2017 iPhone lineup would look like:
That seems fine, right? You've got two iPhones that are upgrades to last year's models, and then a third brand new one with a brand new name. But... what happens in 2018?
Not. A. Chance.
First, there's no way Apple would ever release an "S" model in the same year that it releases new numbered models. Second, and far worse, would be the idea that Apple would upgrade the "iPhone 8" to "iPhone 8s" while also upgrading the "iPhone 7s" to "iPhone 8." Would Apple really give the same name to two different phones in two consecutive years? No way.
Unfortunately, the only thing I can say with any certainty is that Apple absolutely will not release three iPhones this year named iPhone 7s, iPhone 7s Plus, and iPhone 8. I have no idea what Apple is going to call them, I just know what the company won't be calling them, though I can certainly speculate a bit.
If Apple decides to combine iPhone and iPad naming schemes with its new iPhone lineup, it might look like this:
If the rumors are wrong and Apple really only plans to launch two new iPhones in 2017, they might be named as follows:
Or the company could go full iPad, and opt for:
In all three of those instances, Apple would follow the iPad lineup's lead. Then, in the years that follow, Apple might slap year designators on its iPhones as it does with MacBook models.
Of course, there are still glaring problems with each of those three suggestions. For the first two, the "Pro" designator doesn't align with Apple's other product lines. Some have argued that the iPad Pro and MacBook Pro are both professional-grade device lines, while Apple's tenth-anniversary iPhone would clearly be a consumer device. I'm not so sure about this argument, however. If you want to buy into Apple's marketing, that's fine, but the "iPad Pro" is a consumer device. Sorry.
To me, the third suggestion above is the least likely. Sure it makes sense, and sure it aligns with the iPad lineup, but would Apple really release a "5.5-inch iPhone" that's larger than a "5.8-inch iPhone"? Remember, the upcoming tenth-anniversary iPhone will be far more compact than the iPhone 7 Plus even though it has a larger display.
There are plenty of other directions Apple could move in. "iPhone X" has been tossed around a bit, though I'm not sure Apple would move back to "X" after dumping the OS X name in favor of macOS. Then again, perhaps Apple was clearing a path so that there would be no overlap between OS X and iPhone X. But still, what happens next year? iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone Xs? How about in 2019? iPhone 8s, iPhone 8s Plus, and iPhone X2? Nope, not a chance.
I've also seen a few people suggest that Apple might ditch the iPhone brand entirely and move to "Apple Phone," like Apple Watch. Perhaps someday, but I don't see that happening right now.
In the end, it's still a mystery and we all still really have no choice but to call Apple's upcoming new phones the iPhone 7s, iPhone 7s Plus, and iPhone 8. Come September, however, don't expect to see any of those names on stage during Apple's big unveiling.