Some Carriers Are Already Taking Pre-Orders for the ‘iPhone 9’

South Korean Telecom iPhone 9 ads with free AirPods Credit: MySmartPrice / Gadgetmatch
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At this point it’s pretty much a given that Apple will be releasing its new budget-friendly iPhone this spring, and in fact we’ve heard so much about it already that Apple’s official announcement will likely be little more than a formality, confirming much of what we already know.

In fact, about the only thing that we can’t yet have a high degree of certainty about is what Apple will be calling it. For months, industry watchers were dubbing it the “iPhone SE 2” as a sort of placeholder, since it will basically be a modern version of the 2016 iPhone SE. While the original was a re-release of the 2013 iPhone 5s with a more current CPU, this year’s model is expected to do the same for the 2017 iPhone 8.

Needless to say, “iPhone SE 2” sounds like an unusual name for Apple to use under the circumstances, however it’s impossible to rule it out entirely considering Apple took a similarly odd approach with the iPad and iPad Air — the 2017 fifth-generation iPad was for all intents and purposes an update to the 2014 iPad Air 2, and yet Apple chose to name it as if it were the next-generation of the 2012 iPad. Then on top of that, the company later released a new third-generation iPad Air that actually had more in common with the 2017 iPad Pro than it did with its earlier namesake.

However, many have made the legitimate argument that it makes more sense for Apple to call it the iPhone 9, since it directly follows in the footsteps of the iPhone 8, and of course Apple skipped that number on its way to the redesigned iPhone X.

Now, in what might appear as a confirmation that it will indeed be called the “iPhone 9,” Gadgetmatch is reporting that carriers in South Korea have actually begun displaying posters advertising pre-orders for the new model.

In fact, not only has at least one Korean Telecom store been spotted with banners out front announcing the iPhone 9, but they’re going one step further in promising that it will come with free AirPods.

What’s Going On Here?

While it’s tempting to think that this represents a leak, it’s much more likely that the Korean stores are simply jumping the gun and trying to get ahead of the curve for when Apple actually does announce the new iPhone.

The stores are similarly hyping the new Samsung Galaxy S20, which also has yet to be announced, although that’s expected to happen early next week, and it’s usually easier to come by leaks from the considerably less secretive Samsung. The posters also promise that the Galaxy S20 will include a free set of the rumoured new Galaxy Buds+, which could be more plausible, since Samsung offered a similar promotion for the Galaxy Buds when it released its S10 last year.

It’s unlikely, however, that Apple would be doing this; people are in such a hurry to pay real money for AirPods that it can barely make them fast enough to keep up with demand, so Apple has absolutely no motivation to start giving them away. That said, however, if carrier stores in South Korea want to run their own bundled promotions, Apple probably won’t stop them from doing so.

What This Means for the ‘iPhone 9’

Although Apple frequently does brief its carrier partners on its plans, these conversations normally occur at the higher levels, and non-disclosure agreements ensure that such information is costly guarded, so it’s rare that rank-and-file employees get access to any of this information in advance, and even less likely that a company would risk incurring Apple’s wrath by attempting to capitalize on it before Apple itself could unveil a new product.

It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen a carrier or manufacturing partner incorrectly predict a new product name either. In the weeks leading up to the release of what became the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X back in 2017, many accessory makers released cases branded for the “iPhone 7s” and “5.8-inch iPhone 8” that naturally later turned out to be based on incorrect assumptions.

So although it’s impossible to rule out that somebody may have gained access to some inside information, it’s impossible to know for sure and so it’s best to take these kinds of pre-announcements with a healthy dose of salt.

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