We’ll find out soon: Will they call it “iPhone 13?”

Image courtesy of Engadget

We are all expecting Apple to show the next iteration of their iPhone in the next few weeks. It’s hard for me to get excited, but there’s a lot of evidence that people really want to upgrade. iPhone 12 was a pretty sizable jump design-wise, and I think people are looking to the next generation to improve on the specs rather than be a completely different looking phone.

What do we know so far?

Nothing. All we have are rumors and leaked photos. But here are the top rumors:

  • At least one model of phone will have a screen like Apple Watch that will be able to stay on all the time.
  • Cameras will be vastly upgraded to compete with Samsung.
  • The notch will shrink, but it’s not likely that Touch ID will be back in this upgrade cycle.
  • Battery capacity will go up, partially because of a larger battery made possible by the current design.

I think these are all pretty reasonable rumors, there’s nothing too wild here. The one thing people might be hoping for is under-screen Touch ID. Since Face ID doesn’t work if you have a mask on, it’s become a lot less useful. However, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to come in this cycle. It will come when Apple can do it reliably.

But will it be called iPhone 13?

No, I do not think it will. Honestly you would think we would be past this as a society. But, the fear of the number 13 is still fairly ingrained in Western culture, and I don’t think Apple feels like it’s worth the risk. I think it’s silly. I would buy an iPhone 13 if that’s what they called it, I would probably “double down” on the whole thing and put a big “13” on the back.

So that leaves the question of what they will call it. The smart money is on calling it “iPhone 12S” because that’s been a pattern with Apple for years. I want to say the iPhone 4S was the first one in that series, unless you count the 3GS, which maybe you should. But that really just kicks the problem down the road for a year. They might do that.

Prediction: It will NOT be called “iPhone 21.”

Samsung has switched to using the year in their phone model names. The current one, for example, is the Samsung Galaxy S21 5G. I think they did this because their old numbering scheme always made it seem like their phones were behind iPhones. But if Apple did this as well I think they would be seen as a copycat. Apple already suffers with this impression and I don’t think they want to make it worse.

So what will it be called?

Well, Apple could go back to what they were doing a few years ago and call it iPhone X3. I think that’s fairly likely, except people would probably still call it the “iphone thirteen.” They could drop the “i,” and that’s a possibility. The “i” came in a generation ago with the 1998 iMac, and was meant to mean a combination of personalization and internet connectivity. They could just call it the Apple Phone. They could also go into some really crazy branding like they have done with Mac operating systems. Apple kept the “OS X” moniker for their desktop operating systems for close to 20 years, and eventually it became common parlance to refer to the new version by its internal testing name. We had Lion, Tiger, Leopard, and a whole host of other cats. Then in 2013 Apple switched to location names like Yosemite, El Capitan, and the upcoming Monterey.

I think this is very likely where Apple will go, if not with this phone but with the next one. Phones are now the dominant consumer purchase on the planet, why not brand them like one? I’m no branding whiz but I think words beat numbers most of the time. Yes you’re asking the whole planet to use an English word. I get that. But it’s certainly not the first time. I know, for example, that they don’t call it “Coca-Cola Cero Asucar” in Spanish-speaking countries. They call it “Coca-Cola Zero Sugar.”

If it were me I’d start with the periodic table. That gives you 114 or so choices, and you could just do them in order. That means the current phone would be the “iPhone Hydrogen” and you go from there.

Honest folks, I don’t know. But we’ll all know pretty soon, right?

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.