Apple broke tradition when it made the iPhone X last year, so where are things going for 2018?
Photo: Sam Rutherford (Gizmodo)

With Apple’s big fall event just two days away, iPhone speculation has reached peak turgidity. And so far, there’s a lot of info that’s trickled down via rumors and leaks that seem like a lock for September 12, including Apple’s plan to introduce three new iPhones, with the new iPhone Xs serving as the successor to last year’s iPhone X.

However, even this close to launch, there’s still some confusion as to what those other two iPhones will be called. Just last week, reports popped up indicating that new 6.5-inch iPhone—the largest of the three—will be called the iPhone Xs Max, with Apple dropping the “Plus” moniker entirely for 2018.

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It’d be a pretty sensible move, though not an especially Apple-like one. The jump up from the 5.5-inch display on the iPhone 8 Plus to a 6.5-inch display is more than enough to justify a new name. But what about Apple’s rumored 6.1-inch iPhone, which will reportedly feature an LCD display instead of a more expensive OLED screen, and a (relatively) more affordable price tag to match?

Up until this week, I’ve had the new 6.1-inch iPhone mentally tagged as the iPhone XE, in reference to iPhone SE, which is the only moderately-priced phone Apple currently sells. However, it seems I was off by a letter, because a picture taken at a Chinese phone carrier meeting suggests Apple may actually call the 6.1-inch model the “iPhone XC” instead, a clear callback to the colorful iPhone 5C from 2013. To make things even more confusing, that same presentation also suggests the 6.5-inch iPhone will be called the “iPhone XS Plus,” and not the Xs Max like earlier rumors had claimed.

But the name-guessing madness doesn’t end there. Earlier today, Bloomberg reported that one of the possible names for the new, cheaper 6.1-inch iPhone is the “iPhone Xr,” which seems completely unrelated to the naming scheme found on any of Apple’s previous products.

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So what’s the big deal? It’s just a name, so why does everyone care so much about what that 6.1-inch iPhone is going to be called? One big reason is its price. Even with a slightly less nice-looking screen, if the 6.1-inch iPhone has a similarly slim bezel design and FaceID—for a price closer to $650 than the expected $1,000-plus price of the new iPhone Xs—then Apple’s new, more affordable iPhone might actually be the most interesting handset of the bunch.

Either way, we should find out for sure in a couple days. What names are you betting on?