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Apple may think otherwise, but iPhone XS Max is a terrible name for a premium-tier OLED smartphone.
The fact that the moniker has sparked ridicule online should be an indication of that. Ditching the “Plus” moniker for “Max” just doesn’t seem very Apple-esque.
For many people, author included, the word Max just has extreme sports and cheesy 90s undertones to it. Adding it to a high-end iPhone just doesn’t fit.
Similarly, try saying “iPhone Ten Ess Max” three times fast. That becomes even worse when you realize that some people will continue to call it an “iPhone Ex Ess Max.” Either way, it’s undoubtedly clunky — and Apple can do better.
But aside from the ridiculousness of the word “Max,” there’s also the fact that Apple is missing a prime opportunity to simplify its iPhone branding.
The iPhone lineup is becoming increasingly convoluted. If these reports turn out to be accurate, you’ll have everything from the iPhone SE to the iPhone 9 to the iPhone XS Max. There just doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason to this naming scheme.
Compare that to Apple’s other product categories. Take the iPad, for example.
You have the entry-level 9.7-inch iPad, as well as the premium-tier iPad Pro in two different size variations. It’s clean, concise and simple to follow. And that naming scheme applies to Apple’s Macs and Apple TVs, too.
Thanks to the naming conundrum that last year’s devices have spawned, this year is a prime opportunity to simplify the iPhone branding and bring it in-line with Apple’s other devices.
The lower-cost 6.1-inch LCD iPhone, for example, could simply be called “iPhone.” Essentially, it would be the smartphone analog to the entry-level iPad.
The two OLED-based flagships could be called iPhone Pro. As in, the “5.8-inch iPhone Pro” or the “6.5-inch iPhone Pro.”
Alternatively, Apple could call the larger device called the iPhone Pro Plus.
Apple could even cater to mispronouncing consumers and call it the iPhone X — with the X pronounced “Ex” instead of “ten.”
Of course, there’s a counter-argument here relating to differentiating between yearly releases. You’d have to say “I have a 2018 iPhone X,” instead of “iPhone XS.”
That only becomes a problem since consumers tend to upgrade their handsets much more frequently than their tablets or computers. But it’s really a small price to pay for a cleaner and more minimalist lineup.
Not only that, but it would be quite a declarative move to simply brand a new handset as the “iPhone” or the “iPhone Pro.” Most Android brands use numbered monikers like Apple currently does.
For a company that wants to make its own devices stand out in a crowded marketplace, it might not be a bad idea. And compared to the “Max” alternative, it seems like a better one.