- Apple used to stick to a consistent pattern for numbering its iPhones.
- But the iPhone X messed the system up.
- One analyst believes that Apple may be ready to drop numbers entirely — so this year's model might not be iPhone 9, but just iPhone.
For the past decade, there was an easy way to figure out if you had the newest and fastest iPhone: simply look at the model's number. Higher is better, obviously.
For example, the iPhone 7 is faster and newer than the iPhone 6. The iPhone 6S is somewhere in the middle.
But last fall, Apple seriously muddied the entire situation. The highest end iPhone is called iPhone X — it's pronounced "ten" — but there's also the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. For some reason, Apple skipped the iPhone 7S last year.
And if you want the bargain iPhone, it doesn't even have a number at all — just "iPhone SE," which stands for special edition.
At least one analyst believes that Apple may end the madness this year, and drop the numbers entirely. That means that there would be an iPhone model this year simply called "iPhone," wrote Guggenheim analyst Robert Cihra in a note to clients on Tuesday.
From the note:
"Potentially simpler branding coming with no more numbering – After some mismatched mix with the latest iPhone 6 vs. 7 vs. 8 vs. X, we think Apple may use this upcoming cycle to formally change its iPhone naming/branding pattern to now simply start calling the mid-market LCD-based iPhone “iPhone” (no longer numbering them), while keeping the high-end identified by its “X.”"
It's a change that's been rumored for a while, but Apple has continued to number its devices, possibly because it makes it easier to compare them. Apple did at one point drop the numbers from its line of iPads — but the most recent "iPad" often receives the modifier "6th Generation."
The Guggenheim note also refers to the dominant iPhone rumor this cycle: Apple will release three new iPhones this year, a successor to the iPhone X with the same design and faster components, a super-sized iPhone X "plus," and a new 6.1-inch iPhone with the cheaper LCD screen but high-end features like facial recognition.
If things play out that way, Apple's iPhone lineup this fall could look like this:
- iPhone X
- iPhone X Plus
- iPhone SE
- Plus whatever older models Apple keeps around for emerging markets. Analyst Neil Cybart wrote earlier this week that model could be the iPhone 6S.
The Guggenheim analysts believe that Apple's iPhone sales will be flat in 2018, but the average selling price could increase 15% year over year, which will drive iPhone revenue up. They rate Apple a "Buy" with a price target of $215.
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