Apple, enough with the stupid iPhone ‘S’ naming already

Hey Siri is just one of the major new features Cook announced last week in the new iPhones. Apple releases the iPhone on a tick-tock cycle; with the “tock” device typically being a modest refinement of the “tick” device that debuted the year prior with a new form factor and other upgrades. This is traditionally a “tock” year, but Cook bristles at this notion. “This is clearly not an off-year issue,” he argues. “This is substantial change.” — John Paczkowski, BuzzFeed, September 15, 2015

“First, we have Paczkowski — a respected and experienced Apple journalist — explaining to readers that iPhone’s major innovations arrive every other year,” Ken Segall writes for Observatory. “Would John (or anyone else) explain it this way if there were no S-year naming? He either believes that Siri, 3D Touch, Touch ID and other S-innovations were minor, or he has drawn a logical conclusion from Apple’s naming scheme.”

Segall writes, “Second, we have Tim Cook bristling at the notion of iPhone ‘off-years.’ Well … Tim would have nothing to bristle about if Apple hadn’t created this whole ‘off-year’ nonsense in the first place. The perception is a direct result of Apple’s naming system.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple, enough with the stupid iPhone ‘S’ naming already.

iPhone “S” years usher in hugely significant features, such as oleophobic displays, significant GPU improvements, world phone capability, Siri personal assistant, video stabilization, panorama photos, 64-bit processors, TD-LTE support, Touch ID, and 3D Touch, among other improvements and additions. Each year’s iPhone deserves its own number. By not doing so, Apple is shooting itself in the foot; handicapping iPhones with an “S” every other year. Why Tim Cook or Phil Schiller haven’t put an end to this stupid – yes, stupid – “S” naming is inexplicable. Why don’t you just name it “iPhone No Big Deal This Year,” Tim and Phil?

Here’s what you say onstage and in the press release when there’s no “iPhone 7s” and you jump directly from iPhone 7 to iPhone 8: “The improvements are such that the new iPhone deserves its own number.” Period. Done. Mission accomplished. It’s your naming convention, Apple, and you can correct your stupid mistake at any time.

There are plenty of numbers in the universe. Infinite, actually. Don’t worry, Apple, you won’t run out.MacDailyNews, October 4, 2011

It’s as if Apple is naming iPhone models solely for their own internal inventory purposes, just so they can keep track of which model is which, with no regard for how the iPhones are perceived by the rest of the world – the media, the customers, etc. – outside One Infinite Loop.

The “S” doesn’t stand for “Speed,” it stands for “Stupid.” Yes, we know it’s the same case design; we know the “S” version is the one you make the big margins on; we get it. Call it the “S” internally if you must, but don’t be so engineer-ish that you insist on calling it that on the box, too!

It’s not about sales figures or the model’s success (as long as “iPhone” is in the name, it will be a success), it’s about setting a tone. In this case, with the “S,” Apple sets a tone that they are just making an incremental update… Why gift the naysayers with the opportunity, Apple?MacDailyNews Take, April 5, 2013


  1. Apple doesn’t want to have a iPhone with 2 digits on its name. That is why it uses Roman numeral for the Mac OS.
    When iPhone 10 gets released, they will came out with nome other naming but not 2 digits numbers.

  2. There’s a logical reason why they use the “S” designator and keep the model number the same; the damned thing looks the same. The “S” stands for second or successor or super, etc. It basically stands for… here’s the same model, but with upgrades.

    This is no different than other products, be it cars or electronics… You can buy Audi A4 or and Audi S4. The “4” is the over all model number, and the “A” and “S” designate features.

    The only difference is that Apple doesn’t release both at the same time, they push upgraded models out a year later.

  3. Hmmm, there was no iPhone 2. It was called iPhone 3g because it went from EDGE cellular service to 3g. I’m not sure why they went to iPhone 4 after 3gs since the 3 had nothing originally to do with generations. When people received subsidized upgrades every other year, it made more sense to have “s” years as everyone would get an iPhone 5 eventually.

    Apple tried to move away from the numbering system on iPad with “The new iPad” (3rd Gen.), but they brought it back with iPad Air 2.

    People may balk at the “s” years, but journalists need to learn and write is that Apple innovates technology every year and form factor every other year.

    I used to laugh at a group of teenagers I mentored who would discuss what the new iPhone form factor would be. I told them then form factor is the same since 2007 a blank screen. You’re arguing about what the back of the device will look like. That holds true today. Sure, there have been “minor” changes: screen size and ratio, rounded square removed from the home button, sleep/wake button moved, etc. but the face of the iPhone hasn’t physically changed in 8+ years.

  4. Just my 2 cents worth: I have no problem with the ‘S’ naming convention. Doesn’t bother me a bit. I pay attention to the product…not so much the name. Can’t agree with MDN on this one.

  5. As long as the design stays the same for two years the second-year design will be Something. Might as well be S.

    They’ll stop using S when every year is a new design (never), or when versions start always being the same design, which could happen soon actually.

  6. The S has been there, ever since the 3GS. Yet people were upset and surprised by the 4S and every S since then.

    I suggest instead of hammering Apple about their naming convention, which is just a name, everyone else should simply get over it. All but the very first model has played into this convention.

  7. Clickbait. That being said, I like that Apple produces an ‘S’ version that we all know is going to be a refinement on the same form factor. This is Apple’s baby and I much prefer it to the horrid naming convention to other manufactures.

  8. So many people I know are always saying “eh, I always skip the S models, I’ll wait for the [next number].” Which is ridiculous to me. I was super excited about faster speeds, Siri, Touch ID, and now 3D Touch. And of course I’m also always excited about new form factor designs and all the amazing new features that come along with every iteration of iPhone.

  9. The “S” designation allows Apple to retain the body for an extra year. The technology improvements happen every year.

    If this were iPhone 7 there would be an expectation that it would look different. No doubt the next iPhone will look different.

    So Apple gets every other year to focus entirely on the technology without having to invest time and resources on changing the case.

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