The Next iPhone Won't Be The iPhone 5

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 "5". 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, it would 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 long term 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!

Apple realised 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: Martin Hajek



    Cars don't have software updates and thus compatibility issues. How is anyone going to know if the latest iOS features will work for them?

      The same way current mac and iPod updates work. They will be designated by generation (1st, 3rd, 5th etc.) or by year ( mid 2010 MacBook Pro).

      Cars do have software these days though and they can be updated :-)

      Of course they do. What do you think happens when you get it serviced? You can even update the ECU yourself, with 3rd party modifications, either via a new ROM or by flashing the existing one, depending on what model it is.

    Lol , but this is a smart move. I guess the gs4 will now just be galaxy s lol

      why not, samsung has copied Apple step by step.. watch Samsung quietly start dropping the numbers from their next gen galaxy line

        I hope this is a troll and you're not genuinely stupid.

    Actually car manufacturers do not do this... At all. All cars have model numbers such as "CH" which refers to that particular model (not to be confused with model classes such as WRX or Exceed). They also refer to year models to better identify minor variances in the model.

    Check it out the next time you book your car in for a service. If you just refer to your car as "Camry" you will likely be met with a number of dum

      True, and there's multiple years/revisions involved too. Eg. Series 1 and 2 VT Commodore, R33 Skyline (S1 1993-1995, S2 1995-1997), etc etc

        Oh, and additionally to differentiate: ER33 for GTS, ECR33 for GTS-T, BCNR33 for the GTR.

          And on top of that they use the model year designation a lot these days. e.g. MY12 or MY07.5.

    Bad analogy. Cars have model numbers so you can tell which one you have. Imagine the conversation in a few years time when people are having problems with their iPhone.
    Customer: The latest iOS has slowed down my iPhone
    Apple Genius: Which model do you have
    Customer: The new iPhone
    Apple Genius: Sorry, that doesn't tell me which one you have. When did you get it?
    Customer: I think it was a couple of years ago.
    Apple Genius, so it's not a new iPhone, it's an old iPhone.
    Customer: No, it's a new iPhone, that's what they called it when it was released.
    Apple Genius: Um, okay, what does it look like?
    Customer: It's thin and rectangular with one button on the front and a camera on the back.
    Apple Genius: Oh crap, this is going to take a while.

      Nope. More like this:
      Customer: the latest iOS has slowed down my iPhone
      Apple Genius: No problem. Just give me your phone's serial number, and I'll know exactly how to fix the problem right away, because every Apple product is registered and filed in our database.


      Genius: OK can you open up settings, then general, then about and scroll down to find the model number.
      Customer: OK that was easy.

      It doesn't take a genius.

        sorry phone wont switch on, touch screen insist working, battery is flat.

        Well that's nice and well accept the future ios7 has a totally different menu system and the customer doesn't know what iOS they have. So back to step one. If I knew what phone I had I knew what iOS I might have. Also this now leads apple to small spec increases like on an iMac or MacBook. The next device doesn't need to be much different from the last just a tiny speed increase to justify its existence. So now we will only see total re designs every few years

        Genius: Look at the back of your phone, it will have a model number
        Customer: A1387

        Seriously not an issue at all. Apple have already figured this out

          Your using to much logic for the Internet.

          -1 Internet for you

          Exactly what I was going to say.

          We'll still have an iPhone 'something' (e.g. Model A1332) - same as all of their other hardware.

          It's not rocket science to figure out what you're using.

          It'll only gets complicated if they change the numbering system... like graphics cards - an Nvidia 680 is better/newer than a 6850. Why can't companies use a logical linear progression across all models, rather than sub-sets of models. I understand the letters/numbers ARE relevant, but it gets very confusing for the consumer if you don't do a detailed product history / timeline.

            nVidia is consistent. AMD, a different company, can do what they want with the naming of their cards - which are also consistent along their entire range (consumer range at least).

    so what about when the "new iphone" is release and apple is still selling off old stock of th eprevious model.... it will still need a model name or something to differentiate....same goes for the second hand market....

      They'll do exactly what they've been doing for the past decade with MacBooks, iMacs, and iPods. RTFA.

    Sierra Cosworth Sapphire Ghia mage by Ford. Not the most elegant example. But its not a Ford Sierra. Same as Holden Commodore is not just that either. Until we refer to phones by their years. You can do it with cars yearly. But the car example IMO is wrong. LAMBORGHINI murcielago VS APPLE iphone. An iphone its not an iphone. Its a brand to portray a lineage.

    Been saying this for a year. No idea why it took so long for others to realise this. There was just no way they'd call the 6th iPhone iPhone 5.

      Youre just ahead of your time mate. Can I have a ride in the Delorean too?

    Ebay will be full of MY12 iPhone, late 2011 production. All the 2012 year model features!


    I joked about this when the iPhone 4s came out...
    iPhone 4S II

    I think the change in naming scheme is a bit funny in that its a bit late. I work with iPhones and iPads on a daily basis and I never hear people refer to this year's model of the iPad as 'the new iPad' or even 'iPad' when referencing them with other models. Everyone calls it an iPad 3, just like everyone calls the previous year model an iPad 2, in spite of the fact that there are instances of that name on the product, the packaging or any documentation.
    My bet is that people will call the new iPhone an iPhone 5 regardless of what Apple calls it. The public and media have already been using that name for over a year.

      It'll eventually calm down. Just like all the iPods and MacBooks are known without generation number in official names, with year or generation added for specific uses. A problem though will be when they want to sell the older less-capable iPhones ala 3GS. With the MacBooks and iPods they stop selling old models when new ones come out but the 3GS has been sold for three years, and no end in sight in some markets. In a years time they won't be able to continue doing that if they want to shuffle models down and they all have the same name. Unless they bring out the "iPhone Pro" and/or "iPad Mini" to differentiate from the (soon to be) current "iPhone" and "iPad".

    I guess regardless of what Apple wanna call it. Customers still call the *new* ipad, ipad 3. Third party cases say *new* ipad 3...other branding is an issue later when ipad *4* comes out but the cases still fit 2,3 & 4 but not OG. The new new ipad.

    your logic is flawed, it is the 5th generation of iPhone - the 4s was just that and iPhone4 with an incremental update, making this the 5th generation. Apple can try and call it whatever they want, but there is no getting past the fact that the consumer will call it an iPhone5 just like they (including retailers) call the new iPad the iPad3, because how else are you going to differentiate them. I've got an issue with my new iPhone makes you sound like a complete wanker.

      **You'll just have to get over the fact it skipped a generation

      By your logic it is really the second (maybe third) generation, since the only real difference between the original one and 3G was a 3G radio, then the 3GS was slightly faster - an incremental update. The iPhone 4 had different industrial design and a few new features so I guess that was enough to make it a new generation. The "iPhone 5" may or may not have enough changes to be a new generation - only time will tell.

    Is it not listed yet on apple's us site or is the above image just photoshopped for our enjoyment.

    I reckon they have done this after the enormous weight of expectation that was not met last year when everyone expected the "iPhone 5" and only got a 4S.

      The real issue with that was not so much the naming (as far as im concerned they can call it whatever they want, as long as there is some way to differentiate it), it was the fact there was virtually nothing new to it.

        People didn't seem to mind nearly as much as the media did.

        "Remember when everyone thought the iPhone 4S would be a non-starter because it was just an incremental upgrade? Turns out that they’re more popular than the model before it"

    Except I can't I can't buy a macbook from 3 years ago but I can buy an iPhone 3gs and I think consumers will need to tell the difference

    Cars have model numbers - a lot use MY2011 - MY2012 to differentiate or 2012 plated and you can see the model stamped onto the engine. Most couldn't tell the difference between iPhone 4 and 4gs or 3G and 3GS. A lot of stores still sell all 3 past models - how does the average consumer not know they are getting ripped of or that the 14 year old sales person on his first day doesn't grab the wrong box - and eBay or online they will sell old models as the new iPhone because that's what I was called back then, only to realise its the new old model. Everything is leading the apples demise like when Steve left the company and came back to rescue the company. Obviously this won't happen now.

      iPhone's also have model numbers. The iPhone 4S is A1387

        Without searching the Internet can you tell me model numbers for past iPhones?

          No, but I don't need to because the internet is so ubiquitous these days.

          If you have 3 iPhone models in front of you and you aren't sure which is the one you want, then it is your responsibility to check. The model number is printed on the box. If the salesperson gets the wrong one then take it back.

          When buying a car how do you know you aren't getting last years model? You check the model number.

    This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

    The real problem will be with people buying accessories and cases/screen protectors.

    Say next year you get an iPhone (that was released this year), you now expect people to look up model numbers for the case, because year you bought it isn't helpful (of course some moronic case manufacturers screwed up back when iP4 came out and called them 4g cases.

    Since there is a high chance of 4g support in the phones they could call it a 4gs.

    It just sounds like a marketing nightmare to abandon the numbering system.

    All Lamborghini sports cars aren't called Murciélago, the cars are named after famous bulls.

    Stupid move by apple and some clutching at straws by Martin. Car companies still use letters/numbers to differentiate between their different versions of the same model. The "new" iphone wont be new as soon as a newer model is out. There's a certain amount of hype around the launch of a new iphone, if users can't easily differentiate between the "new iphone" and the "newest iphone" you'll have less users upgrade for the kudos of having the latest iphone. If I was apple i've be putting version numbers in large watermarks on the backs of their phones so no geek gizmondo reader would want to be seen using old tech.

    You can still buy older MacBook Pros and Airs, but you don't see the newer versions being numbered. Apple should have never started with the numbering system on either product.

    They release one iPhone, one iPad, one iPod Touch, one iPod Nano etc. They don't need a number. If someone wants the previous year's un-numbered model, they can say I want to buy the 'old' iPhone.

    This year, they'll be able to say I want t buy the new iPhone, or I want to buy the iPhone 4S. Next year they'll choose between the old or new.

    Not rocket science.

    Calling the 6th iPhone the iPhone 5 is wrong on so many levels. First world problems though.

    Oh woah is me. I am unable to tell the difference between a 6th generation iPod and a 5th generation iPod...oh, hang on... So not really a problem telling the difference between models as there is still a counter, just not in the official name.

    Camry - good example
    Lamborghini Murciélago - excuse to say Lamborghini Murciélago

    It will basically become the iPod Touch naming.

    iPod Touch 3rd gen, 4th gen etc.

    iPhone 6th gen, iPhone 7th gen and so on. To call the 10th iPhone iPhone 9/10/11 will start to sound just plain stupid.

    Since the iPad just adopted the 4g term temporarily wouldn't it be logical that the next iPhone would be 4g and then after that 4gs? Or perhaps due to the same reason they can't call it 4g anymore they may take the suffix out all together(as suggested in article

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