The Next iPhone Won't Be the iPhone 5S

Can you taste it? That's an unreleased iPhone in your mouth—so close that we've all got a good sense of what it'll look like and do.

But let's clear up one thing right now: there is no iPhone 5.

Don't worry! There's still a new iPhone coming very soon. But it's just going to be called that: the new iPhone. No five. No numbers ever again, actually. Why? It just doesn't make sense anymore. Let's break it down:

  • The original, 2G iPhone was just called The iPhone.
  • The second iPhone was the iPhone 3G.
  • The third iPhone was the iPhone 3GS.
  • The fourth iPhone was the iPhone 4, which made sense from a marketing perspective because we were all used to the "3" from 3GS in the predecessor. And it was literally the fourth iPhone.
  • The fifth iPhone is the current model, the iPhone 4S—you're already using an iPhone 5.

So to call the sixth iPhone the iPhone 5 would not only be convoluted, but send Apple down a dizzying trajectory of numerical product names with no end. These days, the company makes such an enormous share of its money off phones, it has to think super longterm about what we'll be calling them years from now—so in 2017, will we be lining up to buy an iPhone 8S or something? No! That's patently dumb.

Apple realized it was dumb with the most recent iPad—so we got a "New iPad," which is officially just called the iPad, instead of the iPad 3. It's the same reason we'll get a "New iPhone," which will officially just be called the iPhone, as will every iPhone after that, forever and ever. The phone and tablet are now yearly products that carry frothing anticipation, with names strong enough to demand frenzy and dollars without adding +1 each time around. They're iconic in the same way a MacBook is—and there's no MacBook 6, is there?

It'll be confusing at first, and plenty of people will walk into Apple stores asking for iPhone 5s only to be tsk-tsked by smirking Geniuses, but you'll get used to it soon enough. iPhone. iPad. That's it.

That said, we'll likely keep referring to it as the iPhone 5 around these parts (as will the rest of the Internet) until it comes out, because, come on, you all know what we mean.

Update: As one of our very astute readers points out, manufacturers do this exact thing with cars, and it works perfectly. A Camry is a Camry, a Lamborghini Murciélago is a Lamborghini Murciélago.

iPhone 5 render by Martin Hajek