There is no iPhone 5

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iPhone 5 rumor roundup

Ever since before the launch last fall of the iPhone 4S, Apple fans have been clamoring for the incredible, mythical creature known as the iPhone 5.

This device would feature a new, totally different form factor—4G capability—and everything else that’s been missing from previous versions of the device.

But then, rather than the iPhone 5, Apple introduced the iPhone 4S, with a similar form factor as the iPhone 4, and no major new features other than Siri. And even though the device broke sales records, the arrival of the 4S didn’t stop enthusiasts from clamoring for the lost iPhone 5.

And that’s too bad, because the iPhone 5 almost certainly doesn’t exist.

We start with semantics. There’s absolutely no reason for the next iPhone to be called the iPhone 5, simply because it’s not the fifth iPhone. It’s the sixth. The iPhone 4 was the 4th, the 4S was the 5th, and the next, whatever it’s called, will be the 6th.

The next version of the software will probably come out this summer, and if previous naming conventions continue it’ll likely be called iOS 6. If that’s the case it wouldn’t make much sense for it to run on the iPhone 5, especially if the phone comes out months later.

Then there’s Apple’s decision to release the latest iPad without a model number. It’s not the iPad 3, it’s “the New iPad,” or, officially, the third-generation iPad. That’s also the way Apple names its Macs and iPods, and it’s an indication that perhaps that’s how iPhones will now be named as well.

Now, there have been reports that Apple had a new, upgraded iPhone all ready to go last year, and for whatever reason released the 4S instead. And perhaps it would’ve been the iPhone 5, but even if a version of that device comes out this year, it won’t be the iPhone 5.

A Google search for “iPhone 5” returns more than 140,000 results, and a whole lot of those came after the 4S arrived. “iPhone 5” has become a tech press shorthand meaning “the next iPhone.” So we get articles debating what the screen, software and form factor might look like, with everyone on both sides of the debate referring to it by the almost certainly wrong “iPhone 5” name.

There’s also the related debate about Apple’s allegedly forthcoming HDTV product, where we not only don’t know if it’s called the Apple TV, the iTV or some other name, but we also don’t know if it even exists. With the iPhone, we at least have reason to believe it’s actually in the pipeline.

It’ll be a relief, this summer or fall, when the next iPhone arrives; not only will we see what Apple has come up with, but we’ll finally know what to call it.

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  • Kirk Hiner

    And don’t forget the bump from the iPhone 3 to the iPhone 3G.

  • Carmen

    Although I agree with the comment that the “iPhone 5″ will probably follow the iPad and iPod touch naming, I disagree that if they do keep the naming scheme, it will be an “iPhone 6″ instead.

    As per the previous comment, the original iPhone was succeeded by the 3GS, which was in turn followed by the iPhone 4. To say that there cannot be an iPhone 5 does not fit the previous pattern of apple. As for the iOS6 comment, I realize that it could be a determining factor in naming the new iPhone, however I doubt that software version would be highly detrimental to the name of the new phone regardless.

  • Dmacb

    This article is conpletely right. There was the iPhone (1), iPhone 3G (2), iPhone 3GS (3), iPhone 4, iPhone 4S (5). And “iPhone 6″ sounds kind of odd for some reason, so it would be no surprise whatsoever if they called it The iPhone. Just like when we all expecting an “iPad 3″.

  • rolf

    if it won’t be called iPhone5, iPhone6 makes more sense as it’s the 6th iPhone + matches iOS6.

    however, why then, did Apple register the domain
    is it just for forwarding & copyright purposes?

  • Eliott

    You seem overly concerned about what people are calling the next iPhone. Why? Who cares? Everyone know what you mean when you say ‘iPhone 5′, when the next iPhone comes out and isn’t called iPhone 5, then we’ll all of course will feel foolish, but who cares! We’ll have the new iPhone! The article gave me zero information. Thank you.