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So. Three new iPhones are on their way next month: a successor to the iPhone X, a plus-sized successor to the iPhone X, and a cheaper model with lower specs but the same basic design as the iPhone X.

This much has been clear for months now, despite Apple’s attempts at secrecy, but one thing remains unknown: the names of these three new devices.

Naming conventions have been anyone’s guess since Apple rocked the boat last year by following up the iPhone 7 not with a 7S but with an 8, an 8 Plus, and an X. Not at all confusing.

So that leaves us with a conundrum this year. How do you follow up on the iPhone X? We thought it would be fun to outline a few of the more likely naming possibilities.

It seems like the obvious choice for the lower-priced model is to make it a straight sequel to the iPhone 8. It works, sure, but we can’t help but feel it only delays the name game another year. Apple can’t exactly release an iPhone 10 in 2019 having already had an iPhone X (pronounced “ten,” remember) two years prior.

Two years ago, Apple released the iPhone SE – a budget model with a tiny 4-inch body. Rumor has it that model is being discontinued, but perhaps this year’s “cheap” iPhone could be its spiritual successor. iPhone SE 2 doesn’t really signify the iPhone X stylings the new design will have – but we can’t imagine Apple’s media team okaying an iPhone SE X.

Onto the main model: the iPhone X successor. Perhaps it’s wise to stick with the Roman numerals of last year and opt for an iPhone XI – pronounced iPhone Eleven. Not too bad an option, but it would confuse anyone used to saying “iPhone Ex” instead of “iPhone Ten,” and this convention would look more and more unwieldy on paper the longer it goes on. iPhone XVII, anyone? It’s not the Super Bowl.

This one’s problematic, too, sounding either like “tennis” or “excess” depending on which pronunciation you favor. It may be an expensive phone, but nobody wants to admit their excesses right there in the name. Not to mention the abbreviation is most commonly used to mean “extra small,” which isn’t especially accurate for a device with a 5.8-inch screen. That said, maybe Apple could lean into the whole sizing thing and call the three new models the XS, the X, and the XL.

Surely not. A wily developer discovered reference to a new device in some of Apple’s code last week, mysteriously calling it “iPhone xx” – but we’re pretty certain that’s a placeholder name. Not only does twenty simply not follow on from ten, but we doubt Apple would set off down a path that leads to an iPhone XXX next year.

Perhaps Apple should follow the naming conventions its already established with its other products: we already have iPad and iPad Pro; Macbook and Macbook Pro; iMac and iMac Pro. So why not ditch the numbers completely and settle for simply iPhone and iPhone Pro? It’s a simple way to distinguish between two devices with almost identical designs but different feature sets, and would save us repeating this whole naming rigamarole next year. Apple would have to be brave to stop numbering iPhones each year (how will people know if they’ve got the latest model?!) but to our mind, this is by far the best solution.

One thing’s for sure: we’ll find out soon enough what the official names will be, with Apple’s keynote expected to air September 12. Stay tuned!

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