What’s In An iPhone Name?

Credit: designedbyitem.com

What’s a name really all about?

I’ve noticed, you probably have too, that there is some hype over the name of what the newest generation of the iPhone is going to be. Some suggestions that have cropped up are the iPhone 4G, iPhone lite, iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 (obviously). Why do we care so much? Reason one: I want to know and two: relating proposed features with a new name help us crack what is going to be the newest iPhone or iPhones – after all, we could have more than one.

Let’s start with name “iPhone 4G” because I don’t think this has any potential and I can get it out of the way faster. The 3G suffix was added to the iPhone brand for the second generation of iPhone in 2008 because the device worked on the 3G network, not because it was the third generation of the iPhone line. I don’t believe that this iPhone upgrade will include 4G (a.k.a. LTE) capabilities making this name highly unlikely and letting me to throw this name to the wind – one down, that was quick.

Next – “iPhone lite”. If we think back to the iPod announcement Steve Jobs made almost 10 years ago, we only had one iPod (the classic) and that was the only iPod we knew. Two and a bit years later Apple introduced the iPod mini, a midrange model with less storage, smaller design and lower price tag, which made owning an iPod feasible for more people. John Gruber sees this tactic being used for the iPhone as he said on Daring Fireball:

Examine the history of the iPod to see how this will play out. They’ll press technologically at the high end, and they’ll expand into the mid-range market with lower priced models. Why not now?

If  Apple is going to follow the same mentality and are interested in the large markets outside of Canada, Europe and the US who are looking for mid-ranged, unlocked, pre-paid phones, the introduction of two iPhone seems plausible. This is where MG Siegler of TechCrunch sees the potential for an iPhone lite:

If Apple is doing a cheaper version of the iPhone, some think that an old iPhone body (maybe the iPhone 4, slightly modified) would be used. The internals would undoubtedly be tweaked to make the device cheaper to manufacture… Think: less “iPhone nano” and more “iPhone lite”.

He goes on to say that he is only calling it an iPhone lite as an identifier and not suggesting that’s what it is going to be called in the end.

Well, what about the iPhone 5 name? On TWiT.tv’s latest episode of MacBreak Weekly, co-host Andy Ihnatko believes that Apple is going to save the “iPhone 5″ name for something more substantial of a product than what we are going to see later this year. All we can see so far is that we are going to get a boost in speed, better battery life and a better camera for the same price, right? The “iPhone 4S” name comes from the “iPhone 3GS” name that was used for the incremental jump after the iPhone 3G.

I agree, I don’t believe that this update is going to be as revolutionary of a jump as was that from the iPhone 3GS to the iPhone 4. This is why I am leaning towards the idea that Apple is going to use the name iPhone 4S.

Am I the only one to think this way or do you feel the same?

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of iPhoneinCanada.ca. Follow me on Twitter, and @iPhoneinCanada, and on Google+.

  • Anonymous

    100% agree – The iPhone 4S will give us a spec bump this year and next year the iPhone 5 will include LTE and an NFC chip (hopefully!); which would definitely be a substantial update.

    My big question is will we see a bump in hard drive space for the 4S? With iCloud around the corner, I wonder if physical space becomes less of an issue? I personally would love to get a 64GB iPhone.

  • Roxxorz

    If they called the next iPhone the “iPhone 4S” the iPhone 5 moniker would never happen.  They would then proceed to call it the iPhone 6, as per the reason the iPhone 4 was named as such.

  • I agree with the iPhone 4S name for the upgrade. That could possibly be for the rumoured upgrade, and definitely iPhone 5 would be reserved for the next huge update.

  • Djepsilon, what do you see yourself using the NFC for? 

  • Keeper

    You can bet it will be iPhone 4S.  This will not be a significant hardware upgrade and therefore giving it some sort of new generation name would be a waste. 

    Simple

  • Mitchell

    Pretty sure it went 3G, 3GS, 4….. Did you forget how to count?

  • Mitchell

    Pretty sure it went 3G, 3GS, 4….. Did you forget how to count?

  • Ryan

    I think Apple is going to release both an iPhone 4S and 5. Where the “S” in 3GS was for speed I think the “S” in 4S will be for slim as the 4S will be an updated version of the current iPhone 4 slimmed down but with only 8GB storage. With the introduction of iMessage which will act like BBM, customers do not need a data plan but only one of those “social plans” to make use of iMessage, email and for updating fb/twitter. In terms of the iPhone 5 it will have a similar body to the 4 but with a speed bump aka A5, more RAM possibly 768MB not 1GB as they might save that for the following year when they release a version with NFC. The 5 will have an 8MP camera and POSSIBLY a bigger display. Beside that it will be mainly a huge software update!

  • With NFC , there would be no need for the extra bulk that comes with a wallet. If you know you’re going to use a mastercard/visa, you could eliminate the bulk by bringing, your iPhone!

  • Have you seen enough opportunity for this yet?

  • Anonymous

    Since some people think it will be (and carrier leaks imply) a multiple-band gsm/hspa/CDMA phone, maybe it will be an iPhone 4W for world phone. It could be called 4G for Global because that wouldn’t add any confusion to what 4G means.

  • Anonymous

    Since some people think it will be (and carrier leaks imply) a multiple-band gsm/hspa/CDMA phone, maybe it will be an iPhone 4W for world phone. It could be called 4G for Global because that wouldn’t add any confusion to what 4G means.

  • Alcanada

    iPhone 4GS, Apple needs to add LTE to support iCloud syncing over cellular.

  • Anonymous

    You forgot the original iPhone 2G – 3G – 3GS – 4

  • Express

    Personally I don’t think it will be called the iPhone 4S. it means nothing! it’s not the fourth generation nor does it have any technical reference. 3G refers to network speed, and the 3Gs was appropriately names cause it uses the 3G network and is the third iPhone. iPhone 4S? it’s the iPhone 5. why WOULDN’T they name it as such? it’s only appropriate. incremental performance upgrades or not it’s no longer the iPhone 4 and will not be called the iPhone 4S.

  • Jerry

    Duh!!

  • Jerry

    Duh!!

  • George

    If the technology is in use, ie in the next iPhone, then there would be millions of devices with the capability. Natural progression you would see it in more places available to use. Just because something is not out there yet, that isn’t a reason not to put it out there for those who do have it available.
    A good example of this..
    Like the hidden Bluetooth chip in the CountourHD. It was out for a year before they told anyone it was in there, now you can use the iPhone as a viewfinder with the Bluetooth chip. Looking to the future is smart to do when your in the technology business!

  • Rio

    I agree with most of what you had to say but I highly doubt there will ever be a ‘social plan’ for the iPhone. 

    Companies are able to offer the ‘social plan’ on bb and other phones because they are able to adjust the features of the phone allowing only things like bbm of fb to go through, before handing the phone to the customer.

    However, Apple does not allow the mobile companies to make a single modification to their software, and that is the main reason we have not seen any social plans for the iPhone.

    This could change if Apple were to more to a soft-sim, as the providers might have more configurations to play with and allow certain applications and differentiate data used on the browser and an app, although that is just me speculating. 

  • Mario

    iPhone 4GS. Jobs wouldn’t tell me what the “lite” version would be called.

    Thank me later

  • Mario

    iPhone 4GS. Jobs wouldn’t tell me what the “lite” version would be called.

    Thank me later

  • Men_na00

    I think if they are redesigning the physical layout of iphone 4 then it’d make sense to call it iphone 5, however if they are only planning on changing the spec. (better battery/speed/camera/etc) then they should stick to iphone 4S. but in my opinion in todays market competing with 100s of Andriod phones, they have to redesign the phone structure, or it’d be a failure. Iphone 4 is still the best there is, not a large group of ppl wanna change it becuz of speed camera and better battery only… 3GS brought the better network/phone speed plus the video recording capabilities, they had a selling product..

  • Men_na00

    I think if they are redesigning the physical layout of iphone 4 then it’d make sense to call it iphone 5, however if they are only planning on changing the spec. (better battery/speed/camera/etc) then they should stick to iphone 4S. but in my opinion in todays market competing with 100s of Andriod phones, they have to redesign the phone structure, or it’d be a failure. Iphone 4 is still the best there is, not a large group of ppl wanna change it becuz of speed camera and better battery only… 3GS brought the better network/phone speed plus the video recording capabilities, they had a selling product..

  • Men_na00

    I think if they are redesigning the physical layout of iphone 4 then it’d make sense to call it iphone 5, however if they are only planning on changing the spec. (better battery/speed/camera/etc) then they should stick to iphone 4S. but in my opinion in todays market competing with 100s of Andriod phones, they have to redesign the phone structure, or it’d be a failure. Iphone 4 is still the best there is, not a large group of ppl wanna change it becuz of speed camera and better battery only… 3GS brought the better network/phone speed plus the video recording capabilities, they had a selling product..

  • Rob

    First of all, the mobile phone industry was much different that it was now when the 3GS launched. Back then, it was still maturing and phones were only then catching up with the iPhone 3G. Today, Apple has a real fight on their hands with Android-based phones, which always seem like there’s a new one every month. It would be crazy for Apple to apply 2008 logic based on how competitive the market is now. 

    Second, I saw the 3GS as a way for Apple to realign the hardware with the software. iOS 1.0 was loaded onto the first iPhone. When the iPhone 3G came out, the OS was only at 2.0. It wasn’t until the 3GS that the OS was at 3.0. After that was iPhone 4 and iOS 4.0. Why in the world would Apple come out with iOS 5 and then only launch with an iPhone 4S? It would be a marketing disaster. It will be iPhone 5 in the Fall.