Commentary Phones

Apple just killed the iPhone 9. What now?

With the iPhone 8 and iPhone X in the books, Apple might be prepping for change.

James Martin/CNET

Hello, iPhone X. Goodbye, iPhone names as we know them.

When Apple announced the iPhone X (pronounced "ten," not "ex") with no home button, the electronics giant might have also subtly prepped us for a major sea change in how Apple phones are named.

Stick with me here.

Last year we got the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. This year we should have seen the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus, if Apple had followed the pattern it started since the iPhone 3GS back in 2009. On even years, a heftier upgrade; in odd years, a slighter upgrade followed by the suffix "S." If Apple had stuck to that plan, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus would have lit up the stage in 2018, not now in 2017.

The iPhone X shook it all up.

As Apple's special edition phone, it marks the 10th anniversary of the very first iPhone in 2007, and makes some bold design choices, like removing that home button and making your face the key to unlocking the phone. (The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus keep their home buttons, by the way.)

But what to name it? 

By calling it the iPhone X, Apple has fast-tracked us beyond the point of no return. The 8 and 8 Plus are already upon us; with an iPhone "10" in the mix, the iPhone 9 is already past due.

So what comes next? It's possible that Apple will adopt a totally new naming convention.

After all, the company's been naming MacOS after wildcats and California's natural landmarks for years, as with MacOS Mountain Lion and Yosemite. We could see Apple take a similar turn next year. (iPhone Sequoia, anyone?) Or, maybe more likely, Apple takes us down the iPad road and simply calls the next iPhones "iPhone" and "iPhone Plus." (Which we would immediately refer to as "iPhone 2018," etc.)

We have a year to speculate. Let the guessing games begin.

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