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.