What will the next iPhone be called?

Most people have been referring to the next-generation iPhone as the "iPhone 5." But Apple may choose to be unpredictable.

Real or fake, alleged images of the next iPhone continue to hit the blogosphere.
iLab Factory

When Apple released the latest iPad earlier this year, Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said that naming the device iPad 3 would have been so predictable. "We've had many products where we've never used numbers," Schiller said. "Sometimes we do, sometimes we don't."

Some people don't care what the next iPhone will be called, but some people do. If you're in the latter camp, the big question is whether Apple will follow the more predictable route and go with iPhone 5, the name just about everybody has been calling the upcoming device, or once again throw us a curve.

For those who are counting, this next iPhone, which is expected to be announced early this fall, perhaps as soon as September, is actually the sixth iPhone, not the fifth. So one option is to skip 5 altogether and go to 6. I don't see that happening, but you never know.

Apple could choose to stick with the number 4. I wouldn't put a lot of money on Apple calling it the 4G or 4GS, but this will almost assuredly be the first iPhone to run on true 4G networks (yes, my iPhone 4S says it's on 4G, but technically HSDPA is a 3.5G network). And if you think the alleged spy photos making the rounds are the real deal, this next iPhone may not be so different from previous iPhones, so why not go with a letter change rather than a number change?

Option three would be to follow the iPad's lead and name it "The new iPhone." I personally find that style of nomenclature silly because, well, what's new gets old pretty fast. And the reality is that the new iPad just ends up in an online shopping database with "3rd generation" in parentheses next to iPad name (the same has been true for iPod models).

Call me a rebel. A misfit. Or even a troublemaker. But I still refer to my new iPad as the iPad 3.

And then there's the odds-on-favorite: iPhone 5. It would seem like the logical choice. We had the iPhone 3 and 3GS before we got the 4 and 4S, so Apple should make the jump to 5 this go-round, shouldn't it?

But what about something completely different? Maybe "iPhone One." Or, "iPhone #1."

Apple might as well cut to the chase. That would be unpredictable.