New Survey Says ‘iPhone 13’ Isn’t a Great Name for This Year’s Model (Here’s Why)

Some even felt that Apple should skip over the number 13 entirely.
iPhone 13 Concept Credit: Renders By Ian / Ian Zelbo
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Although we’re still not entirely sure that Apple is going to use the name “iPhone 13,” a new survey may suggest another reason for the company to consider alternatives.

According to survey data released by SellCell, many iPhone users think that the new iPhone should be named something other than “iPhone 13,” with the most popular suggestion being “iPhone (2021).”

The reasoning behind this aversion to the “iPhone 13” appears to be mixed, however. Although some respondents suffer from triskaidekaphobia — meaning they’re afraid of the number 13 — that only made up 18.3 percent of respondents or about one in every five Apple users.

However, an overwhelming majority of those surveyed — 74 percent — preferred a different name for reasons other than a mere aversion to the number 13.

While SellCell doesn’t offer up any reasons why the other 56 percent of Apple users disliked the name “iPhone 13,” it did collect a few alternative suggestions from those who responded to the survey:

  • iPhone (2021) — 38%
  • iPhone 21 — 16%
  • iPhone 12S — 13%

Seven percent of respondents also felt that Apple should just skip over the number 13 entirely, and call this year’s model the “iPhone 14.”

To be fair, however, “iPhone 13” did come in second in the rankings above, since these percentages were based on the total surveyed. In other words, 26% of those responding still liked the name “iPhone 13” — a higher number than those who chose any name other than “iPhone (2021).”

Going with “iPhone (2021)” would be consistent with most of Apple’s other products, such as the iPad and MacBook Pro. However, Apple has also clearly shown a reluctance to do this with the iPhone. This is likely at least partially since, unlike the iPad and Mac, new iPhone models don’t completely supplant older versions. For instance, as of now, Apple is still selling the iPhone XR and the iPhone 11 alongside the entire iPhone 12 lineup. By comparison, when a new iPad Pro is released, it becomes “the iPad Pro.”

Not surprisingly, however, the survey also revealed that about 64 percent of users are waiting to see what this year’s iPhone will offer, rather than buying an iPhone 12 model now. With the announcement less than three months away, we’re actually kind of surprised that number isn’t even higher.

What’s In a Name?

Apple doesn’t likely care too much about concerns of triskaidekaphobia, since it had no problem using the number 13 for iOS 13 two years ago. Of course, that release was also one of the messiest in Apple history, and we wouldn’t be surprised if at least some superstitious iPhone users feel that Apple’s choice of version number had something to do with that.

However, it’s also entirely possible that Apple hasn’t been planning to use “iPhone 13” as the name for this year’s model anyway. Apple has much more commonly used “s” suffixes for mid-cycle models that offer no significant design changes, and this is a trend that has had very few exceptions.

In fact, there have only been two occasions where a new iPhone number wasn’t followed by an “s” model. The 2016 iPhone 7 was succeeded by the iPhone 8 and the 2019 iPhone 11 was followed by last year’s iPhone 12.

There was also never an “s” model of the original iPhone, but it’s also fair to say that device was in a class by itself, and it had no numeric designation either. There has also never been an “iPhone 2” — Apple went straight to the iPhone 3G, a designation intended to highlight its cellular connectivity, before tacking on an “S” in the subsequent 2009 model. Apple didn’t use start using pure numbers until the iPhone 4 came along in 2010.

After six years of releasing “s” models every other year, the iPhone 8 came out of the blue. Almost everybody expected that it would be called the iPhone 7s — and we imagine it probably would have been had Apple not released the significantly redesigned iPhone X at the same time. With the traditional iPhone models already playing second fiddle to the OLED and Face ID-equipped futuristic iPhone X, Apple likely didn’t want to put them at a further disadvantage by using “s” model numbering.

The iPhone 12, on the other hand, featured the kind of significant design changes that have always been the hallmark of new whole model numbers, not to mention the addition of 5G support. In essence, Apple basically skipped over the iPhone 11s — not just the name, but the entire product.

This year, however, the 2021 iPhone lineup is expected to feature an identical design to the iPhone 12, and at least one very reliable source has already suggested it may indeed be an “iPhone 12s” this time around.

That doesn’t mean we’re not expecting big things from the 2021 iPhone, regardless of what it’s called. Remember that even though the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5s looked virtually identical to the models that came before, these were also the devices that first brought us Siri and Touch ID, respectively.

In fact, if rumours are true, this year’s iPhone could follow in the footsteps of its eight-year-old predecessor by introducing in-display Touch ID to an iPhone for the first time.

At the end of the day, however, we likely won’t have any idea what name Apple plans to use for the 2021 iPhone until it takes the stage. Although we occasionally do see some early definitive leaks, these are rare, and usually only occur within days of the scheduled Apple event.

Meanwhile, leaks that come out of other accessory makers are guesses at best — something I can personally attest to from the large number of “iPhone 7s” and “iPhone 7s Plus” and “5.8-inch iPhone 8” cases that were sent to me for review in the weeks leading up to Apple’s 2017 iPhone event.

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