The announcement and branding of the next generation Apple handset as the iPhone X has seemingly scuppered the iPhone 9. When Apple announced the branding of its premium handset as iPhone X, and then the hierarchy of the corporation pronounced it as iPhone 10, the future of the iPhone range became rather cloudy. What will Apple do next year, and what will the company name its major smartphone?

iPhone 9
Image Source: Apple.com (screenshot)

Tenth anniversary

With the iPhone X having acknowledged in the tenth anniversary of the iconic and stratospherically successful smartphone range, the name iPhone 9 now arguably makes little sense. It will not be easy for Apple to skip back to that number; after all, who would want to buy an iPhone 9 when the iPhone 10 is already available?

The consumer electronics giant has numerous possibilities available to it, but one could be for the corporation to abandon numbers for the time being at least. One thinks of the Mac operating system being named after wildcats, and the Android mobile operating system taking on the name of various sweet treats.

This could prompt Apple to begin naming iPhone devices after some category of items, rather than going down the predictable and rather unsuitable road of iPhone 9. Or we could see the Californian corporation reboot the entire iPhone concept once more, perhaps releasing two handsets next year branded as simply iPhone and iPhone Plus, rather than iPhone 9.

Display technology

Another thing for the Cupertino-based company to consider with the iPhone 9 is precisely what screen technology will be utilized. Early feedback from the iPhone 8 and iPhone X indicates that the LCD technology that Apple has relied on for many years now pales in quality compared to the new OLED display.

This suggests that Apple may switch to OLED for all device releases in 2018, regardless of whether they are branded as the iPhone 9 or not. This would require the company to acquire a huge amount of OLED panels, though, which could be problematical considering that Samsung is already completely committed to the technology.

S branding rejection

What we have learnt from the iPhone X generation is that Apple seems ready to abandon the S branding that has been popular and common in previous years. The S name indicated that a particular smartphone is effectively an upgraded version of the previous year’s release. But in a climate in which there is a huge amount of consumer choice in the smartphone niche, along with massive pressure on manufacturers to deliver something outstanding every time, and Apple made no longer consider the S branding to be appropriate.

However, although the Apple hierarchy frequently used the term iPhone 10 in order to describe the iPhone X, this does not necessarily mean that the iPhone 9 branding must be completely abandoned. After all, the use of X in the name of the smartphone will undoubtedly lead many consumers to describe the smartphone as the iPhone X rather than the iPhone 10.

Apple has shied away from explicitly labelling this smartphone at the iPhone 10, perhaps in order to enable the company to call next year’s release the iPhone 9, without causing confusion. This would mean that the iPhone 9 could appear next year as a sequel to the iPhone X, even if this would seem a little odd considering the statements of Apple executives during the Californian conference.

iPhone 11

Another obvious possibility for the iPhone 9 is that Apple could skip the ninth generation of the smartphone completely, and instead opt to brand its next handset as the iPhone 11. This would then follow on logically from the iPhone 10, and seem more natural to consumers. A similar approach has already been taken by Microsoft, with the software behemoth having skipped Windows 9 when releasing the Windows 10 system.

There is a certain logic to this, as obviously 10 is a round and pleasing number, and it was logical for Apple to utilize this figure in order to correlate with its tenth anniversary release. In the case of Microsoft, the manufacturer was keen to distance itself from Windows 7, which was certainly a complete disaster for the corporation. Apple hasn’t had to endure any disastrous iPhone releases; the iPhone 10 name was simply instigated for branding purposes.

Aside from the naming and decision over OLED screens, Apple will have other conundrums to wrestle with when the next iPhone is released. The iPhone 9, or however the corporation chooses to brand its next smartphone, must deliver a pretty outstanding package after the switch to the wraparound OLED display of the iPhone X.

Three separate phones

It will firstly be interesting to see what attitude Apple takes to its three separate smartphones in 2018. There is no doubt that the iPhone X is the premium device in the current generation, but this may not continue to quite the same degree next year. If Apple does intend to switch OLED for its other handsets then each device may be armed with a wraparound display.

Additionally, considering that the level of the spec upgrades in the iPhone X generation, there will be pressure on Apple to update the specs in the two attendant handsets. The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus? now pale in comparison to the iPhone X, and it would be logical for Apple to improve the specifications of these devices.

There will also be question marks over whether or not Apple will unify the iPhone range in 2018. Could the smartphone manufacturer consider creating the same branding over all units in the series after the demarcation it recently indicated with the iPhone X and iPhone 8?

These are all questions that will be answered in the coming months, what is certain is that the next generation release from Apple must up the ante significantly following the emergence of the iPhone X.

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