As far as the rumormill is concerned, Apple is dead-set to release a major iPhone this year to celebrate the 10th anniversary of rounded corners and pinch-to-zoom. Most people are assuming it’s going to be called the iPhone 8, keeping Apple’s tradition of adding a number every time it makes a major version upgrade.
But “iPhone 8” has some major problems for Apple. It’s boring, far too evolutionary, and most Apple fans can’t count that high. (Please, be gentle in the comments.)
Here’s the biggest practical issue: if Apple does what we’re expecting and releases an iPhone 7S and a flagship iPhone 8 this year, it’ll kill the smaller iPhone before it makes it to market. No one wants to spend $600 on a brand-new phone that’s objectively not the best thing you can buy. Apple’s brand relies on the premium feel, the idea that when you buy a new iPhone, you’re getting the very best technology available today.
If you have to stand in line for your iPhone 7S behind someone buying an iPhone 8, that idea goes out the window.
Then there’s the competition. By no small coincidence, Apple and Samsung are on the same numerical naming scheme these days. The iPhone 7 and Galaxy S7 will be direct competitors, as would be the iPhone 8 and Galaxy S8. But in 2018, Samsung will launch the Galaxy S9, and Apple will (presumably) be stuck with the iPhone 8S.
I’m not saying that people solely buy their smartphone based on which has the bigger number, but there’s definitely some compensation happening.
So, if not the iPhone 8, then what? A few analysts have thrown around “iPhone X” as the logical successor. “X” in this case will be a stand-in for 10, since it’s going to be the 10th anniversary iPhone. Apple is likely to make a big deal about the 10th anniversary. The timing is right: the original iPhone was just killed off by AT&T, Apple will be looking to reinforce its reputation for innovation with an all-new iPhone, and by September, Trump’s constituents will probably be ready to reminisce about 2007.