Apple's new iPhone names are stupid

Apple’s newest iPhones are here, and with them come Apple’s worst, least logical iPhone names to date: iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR.

Last year, we had a wonderful “Uh, what?” moment when Apple launched what were clearly the iPhone 7S and iPhone 7S Plus but decided to name them the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. Then Apple promptly threw an iPhone X (pronounced “Ten”) into the mix. We should have seen Apple’s disregard for naming conventions coming. 

Now we have the XS, XS Max, and XR in front of us. So, let’s just jump right into how stupid these names are.

Letters, numbers, or wait, which was it again?

Let’s get this out of the way: Plenty of people are going to look at the iPhone X, XS, XS Max, and XR, and they are going to pronounce that X “Ecks.” Even Tim Cook looks like he’s struggling when he says “iPhone Ten.” That’s left us with the way-too-on-point of excessively expensive iPhone XS sounding like “iPhone Excess” when it comes out of a lot of mouths. “Excess Max” just takes it to another level. 

Maybe Apple hoped to train us to say the X as “Ten” with last year’s phones. There were no S models to confuse us last year, and they said “iPhone Ten” plenty during the launch event. But this year the X is an S model, which puts one letter next to another letter, and if we’re saying “S” we may as well say “X” while we’re at it.

The issues don’t stop there. The iPhone XR seems to have pulled an R out of nowhere. What’s it mean? We assume it doesn’t mean “racing.” And, though the XR is clearly the budget model of the bunch, it lacks a true budget price, so we can at least see why Apple didn’t try calling it the iPhone XC.

Then there’s sizing. iPhone XS looks like it could be extra small, even though it isn’t. And, the iPhone XS Max further confuses that. It also seems Apple has decided “Plus” at the end of an iPhone implies a 5.5-inch display, so it decided to go with “Max” for the largest iPhone this year, despite it coming across as a bit Google/Android-y (cough, cough, Google Home Max). And, that “Max” may sound a bit too much like “Macs.”

What’s next?

With good naming conventions gone the way of affordable iPhones, we might have to worry about what’s next for future iPhones.

We could see this going a lot of ways next few years:

  • For the standard model: iPhone XI, iPhone X1, iPhone XIS … iPhone XIVS
  • For the large model: iPhone X1 Max, iPhone XS Maxx
  • For the cheaper model: iPhone XR2(D2), iPhone XSTUV, or iPhone XQ

Whatever Apple does, we hope it’s at least better than the naming convention for iPads and MacBooks. The last thing anyone wants is to go to the store and learn about the new “iPhone 5.5-inch 2019” and the “iPhone 6.5-inch (Early 2019).”

Mark Knapp

Over the last several years, Mark has been tasked as a writer, an editor, and a manager, interacting with published content from all angles. He is intimately familiar with the editorial process from the inception of an article idea, through the iterative process, past publishing, and down the road into performance analysis.