As last week's invitation confirmed, the launch of Apple's new generation smartphone is nearly upon us. And then the relentless iPhone rumour mill will no doubt begin turning its attention to the 2013/14 instalment of the popular handset while journalists begin analysing the product itself instead of regurgitating the latest unfounded hype.
Having said that, speculation about the naming of the latest iPhone is genuinely interesting as it says a fair bit about Apple's overall product strategy going forward. There's a good deal to contemplate in this respect, as the Cupertino-based tech titan has historically shown both gradualist tendencies and a penchant for surprise. A sequential new moniker could be interpreted as a sign that the firm is endeavouring to cement its current position amidst increased competition, while a naming refresh may hint at a desire for further brand expansion.
So what name will Apple use for its latest smartphone? We've compiled a top five list of candidates that may adorn the boxes hitting the shelves at an Apple store near you.
The favourite by some distance, insiders and consumers alike have been referring to Apple's new mobile offering as the iPhone 5 for some time now and the name has developed considerable traction within the industry. Indeed, Apple's press invite for its 12 September event featured a number '5' cast as the shadow of the bold-fonted '12', all-but-confirming the new device's name to less sceptical observers and commentators. iPhone 5 is certainly the most logical choice, with Apple's new handset launches typically featuring a new number on a bi-yearly basis - the iPhone 4 in 2010 and the 3G in 2008, for instance. That said, the fact that the US firm has been sticking to this pattern for some time now hints that some kind of change could be on the cards. The iPhone 5 may be the frontrunner, but it's by no means a sure bet.
Following the lead of the new iPad – aka the iPad 3 – Apple could choose to ditch numerical naming altogether with its latest device. For sure, there's a strong case for a 'new iPhone,' namely that numbered monikers are at risk of getting out of hand, with the iPhone 5 in fact representing the sixth iteration of the handset and leading to confusion in some circles. A title refresh could go a long way to solving this problem, though personally I think this approach is a bit daft: the next iPhone is only going to be 'new' for the next 12 months, when Apple is likely to release an incremental update. That in turn would put a heck of a lot of pressure on the firm's next mobile product – expectation that it might not be able to meet, judging by the fact that the 4S offered largely cosmetic upgrades. Solving one problem by creating another might be a valid strategy in UK politics, but it's a dodgy move in the ultra-competitive world of mobile telecoms.
As a middle road, Apple could well stick with the number four for its latest phone. Like the 3G, the new moniker could reflect the latest device's connectivity, with the upcoming iPhone widely expected to come readied for 4G LTE. 'iPhone 4G' would really push the new-gen network capabilities of the device, although as the feature wouldn't be unique to Apple's smartphone, this too is perhaps a long shot. Remember that at the time the 4S was announced, a voice-activated smartphone assistant - aka Siri - was a fairly radical feature being pioneered by Apple. 4G, on the other hand, is currently rolling out to a range of high-end handsets - only today, EE announced that 4G would be coming to the Galaxy S3, HTC One XL, and Nokia Lumia 920 among other devices. An iPhone 4G makes sense, just not from a marketing perspective.
A real wild card, but from a pedantic technical standpoint, it would make sense. As mentioned earlier, the device being announced tomorrow is the sixth iteration of the iPhone line-up, so another possibility is that Apple will skip the number five altogether and resume naming its smartphone to reflect its actual generation and its operating system. This doesn't coincide too tidily with the artistry of the press invite (see image, top), but then Apple has a penchant for pulling surprises. An iPhone 6 would fix a number of naming problems, but given the hype of the last few months, it just doesn't sound right. Or does it?
No, it won't be called the iPhone Something Else, we'll bet our editorial reputation on that. But Apple's latest smartphone may well get a name that just hasn't been conjured by the popular imagination. If the new iPhone features a music streaming feature, maybe it will be the iPhone Stream? Or perhaps the NFC chip expected to feature may result in it being dubbed the iPhone N, or something else along those lines? What about the iPhone 4i, a possibility that came to us via our readers - "Ed Edvil's" logic being that an 'i' would reflect the new device's widely reported expanded 4in display size. They're all massive shots in the dark, of course, but perhaps that's why something seemingly random may just come to pass tomorrow. It is Apple, after all - expect the unexpected. And stay tuned, as all will be revealed in just over 24 hours.
ITProPortal will be reporting live on Apple’s announcement later tonight so make sure you stick with us and bookmark our live blog as we find out more about the new products and services launched by the tech giant.