No more ‘S’ models, Tim! Apple needs to launch all new iPhones every year

“For many years, Apple has adopted what many call a ‘tick-tock’ methodology (obviously borrowing the phrase from a certain large chipmaker) for its iPhone lineup,” Ashraf Eassa writes for The Motley Fool. “In even-numbered years, the company will introduce an iPhone with a new number, such as the iPhone 5 and 6; in odd-numbered years, the company takes the same basic phone design as in the previous year but adds a whole lot of goodness under the hood.”

“Although this development process has generally worked well for the iDevice maker, I believe it is now outdated,” Eassa writes. “It’s time for Apple to shift to a release cadence in which the company releases totally new phones each and every year.”

“With that in mind, it’s worth noting with the iPhone 6s, Apple upgraded just about every single component in the latest iPhones over the prior generation models, with perhaps the LCD panel being the only major, noticeable component that stayed the same year over year,” Eassa writes. “Despite this, Apple guided to gross profit margins for its fiscal first quarter that should be about flat with those seen a year earlier; Apple may very well be able to transition to full redesigns each year without taking too much of a hit (if any) on the gross profit margin side of things.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We’ve never liked the “S” moniker and always felt that it shortchanged those iPhone models and the innovations they delivered.

Ken Segall: Apple should name their next iPhone, ‘iPhone 6,’ not ‘5S’ – April 5, 2013
New Apple iPhone 4S fails to wow investors, fans – October 4, 2011


  1. Yes, numbering iPhones every year differently would probably better for marketing, but, at the same time, Apple usually names products differently when they look different, rather than work different.

    So according to this Apple’s philosophy, having “S” models is more honest marketing as looks of iPhone only changes once in two years, not every year. It is just a little bit classier than discarding it in favour of new number each year.

    1. Also, third party accessory maker would lose every year when they would have to trash all their molds, dyes, forms and whatever else they used to make specific products with each new form factor, and it’s nice to be able to use your accessories for more than one year.

      1. A little tricky for the issues brought up, but I think Apple should just name them iPhones. Period.

        Just like they did with iMacs, MacBooks, MacBook Pro’s, Mac Pro’s. Make the model number more prominent on the back (for accessory makers and consumers to identify which iPhone), but go with the generic name. Same on iPads.

        Specs change from year to year, but they are still iPhones.

    2. If anything, Apple should work on having 3 different iPads for sale… last I looked it was iPad 2, 4 and air… I was bored in two minutes trying to care what features each one did/didn’t have.

      Whatever happened to just one model at a time?

  2. By doing away with the S, not only is it “less honest” as DeRS suggests, but they’re likely to get called out on it. If this iPhone had been called the 7, people would’ve looked at the similarities and claimed that the 7 wasn’t really worthy. Even during years where absolutely everything might be changed, if it looks the same, that’s what people are going to lead with.

    1. Some people will complain, no matter what Apple does in this regard. The original “s” stood for “speed.”

      That has become meaningless, but it’s stuck for who knows why reasons. If Apple wants to up the number only when they change form factors, I’m OK with that. I’d like something more meaningful than an “S,” but as seanadb noted, their naming convention isn’t posing a problem for them. Is it really that “broke?”

  3. “No more ‘S’ models, Tim! Apple needs to launch all new iPhones every year”.. no, it doesn’t.
    Look how the iphone is crushing everyones else profits and you will understand that the S model system has to stay.
    The S gives you the opportunity to make feel its customers like they have the latest model for full two years (instead of just a few months like android). At the same time, gives you the opportunity to upgrade to the latest if you fell lie=ke you need more o just to be updated.
    The ‘S’ model system is just genius.

  4. This article is still as stupid as it was when I stumbled upon it early this morning from StockTracker. “Journalists” have nothing better to do with their time than write this kind of nonsense, and MDN can’t find anything better to copy to its own site. Must be a slow news day indeed.

    1. Couldn’t agree more. Because the iPhone would be sooooooo much better if they used only numerical names and not a combination of numbers and letters! Ya, that’s a material improvement (/s). There’s no reason whatsoever to change the naming convention and keeping “s” moniker for off-years makes perfect sense for predictability of accessory makers. I would suggest people actually complain about faults, rather than manufacture new ones for clickbait “news” articles.

  5. Maybe it’s time that tech journalists learn that the technology inside is just as important as the design. There is no reason for a full redesign every year for no reason other than to satisfy people that do not get that.

    1. I agree.. The “S” model gives them more time to devote their resources on the internals. Creating new designs is a hassle and demands great number of resources to get it right. Like what jfblagden said, “you’ll end up with half-baked iPhones”.. Splitting up design in a year, and performance in the other is a very good way to devote all your resources on one single purpose.

      At the same time, as troy mentioned “The S gives you the opportunity to make feel its customers like they have the latest model for full two years (instead of just a few months like android).” As many of my Android friends always say, “I have this brand new XXXX brand Android Phone that was released 4 weeks ago.. Now, its already not the latest..”

      Why would we want to have a new design every year? Like what MDN love to say “Don’t fix something that ain’t broken”. The tick-tock mechanism is good and works well. I certainly do not want the old Nokia system which comes out so many different designs for the whole of 1 year, when the internals (when u open up the replaceable shells) are exactly the same. What is the point of the new designs? Furthermore, they are sold at different prices. It’s so confusing and full of marketing fluff!

      Keep the tick-tock.. Whether it is S, or .5 (like iPhone 6.5) or whatever, the current system works well for both Apple and the buyers. It even works well with “third party accessory maker”, as mentioned by RevDrX.

  6. The use of the “S” version does take some pressure off of the design teams, leaving them to work on other products. That can be more important than some new skin on an iPhone.

  7. Redesigning the iPhone every year just to bump a number up is idiotic.

    What change does a single year mean for an iPhone? Processors and memory get a bit faster, and that’s about it. That’s where the S models come in.

    The outer design of the iPhone is classic and minimal. There is no reason that has be to messed with every single year – none. That type of thinking is how marketers turn totally awesome things into lame remakes.

    It takes more than one year to refine or add to something that is already so complete and mature as the iPhone’s outer design.

  8. Changing the outside case for no reason whatsoever just to give the appearance of innovation is something Samsung would do.
    What Eassa is saying, and he must know what he is talking about because he is on a first name bases with Mr. Cook, is Apple breaking their own records on a wildly successful product, they must be doing something wrong.
    Change it!

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