2019 Might Be the Year of the ‘iPhone Pro’

Iphone Xi Concept Images 2019 16 Credit: Hasan Kaymak
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Every year there’s some debate as to what names Apple will choose for its new iPhone lineups, and in recent years these discussions have become even more interesting as Apple moved away from the classic numbering and “S” suffix system that it used for so long into the much murkier realm of the iPhone X.

Still, even the iPhone X didn’t completely change things. If anything, the biggest surprise was that what should have been the “iPhone 7s” in 2017 became the iPhone 8, and then Apple jumped ahead to the iPhone X — an understandable move considering how much of a sea change the new flagship model represented. Still, when last year’s lineup came around, Apple was back with the somewhat predictable “S” suffixes, with only the “iPhone XR” throwing a monkey wrench into its naming convention.

However, as we’ve already discussed at some length, things are starting to get more complicated, and over the next two years it seems like it’s going to be time for Apple to simplify its product lineup. Most reports have been calling the 2019 iPhone either the “iPhone 11” or the “iPhone XI” because those are the next logical designations, but two years ago the same logic suggested that we’d see an iPhone 7s and iPhone 8.

iPhone Pro

Now an anonymous Twitter user who nailed the names of last year’s iPhone lineup is back with the suggestion that Apple is going to release an “iPhone Pro” this year.

As 9to5Mac points out, this source not only correctly identified the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR before their debut last year, but was also able to reveal the exact weight of the iPhone XS Max, the default wallpaper set, and even the asymmetric grill hole arrangement of the new iPhones.

The idea of a “Pro” model for the iPhone has actually been bandied about for several years, going back to the iPhone 6 — the first time Apple released two different sized models. However, Apple stuck with “Plus” for many years, even after the iPhone 7 actually gained a better camera system, and then for whatever reason switched to using “Max” last year for the larger iPhone XS model. While Apple’s MacBooks and iPads sport “Pro” versions, Apple clearly feels that it’s never had an iPhone worthy of that designation.

However, the leaked tweet is lacking a lot of details, making it unclear how Apple would use the “Pro” name. At a most basic level — and an approach that we think would be elegantly simple — Apple could simply release an “iPhone” (the dual-camera XR successor) and an “iPhone Pro” (the triple-camera XS successor). In this case, the latter could simply be available in two sizes with the same name, much like Apple names its MacBooks and its iPads; there are no “iPad Pro Plus” or “MacBook Pro Max” models.

On the other hand, it’s also possible Apple would still retain the numbering, going with something like the “iPhone XI Pro” or “iPhone 11 Pro” to designate the higher-end triple-camera versions. It’s even possible that Apple could switch away from “Max” to “Pro” and use it only for the 6.5-inch model, although we think this last approach is the most unlikely of all, unless the larger-screened model offers some distinct features. Apple clearly hesitated to use “Pro” for the larger iPhone even in those versions where it actually did offer more advanced features from its smaller sibling.

Consistent Product Lineups

Personally, we’d like to see Apple opt for the cleanest naming standard possible here, and going with just “iPhone” and “iPhone Pro” would match extremely well with Apple’s other product lineups. As we’ve recently seen with Apple’s 2019 MacBook refresh, the company clearly does appear to be working to simplify things — after the dust settled last month, Apple’s MacBook lineup is the most straightforward that it’s been in many years. Further, while the iPad naming is still sorting itself out, Apple appears to be doing something similar there as well, with the iPad Air taking up a new mid-tier position in a family that looks like it will continue to include the iPad, iPad mini, iPad Air, and iPad Pro.

So it seems that as we move into an era of double-digit iPhones, this is as good of a time as any for Apple to dramatically simplify things, and this is even more true when you consider that the 2020 iPhone lineup is expected to be even more revolutionary.

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