Next week Apple is expected to unveil its latest iPhone 13 series of phones, alongside a few other tech goodies like the Apple Watch 7, during its live streamed digital event.
And while many are spending their time wondering what hardware Apple will bring to the table – including how much of an upgrade its fabled Apple A15 chip will be and if a new Mac Mini 2021 will make an appearance – for me the firm may have an even bigger surprise in store. Specifically, that the new iOS handset won’t actually be called the iPhone 13.
Before you roll your eyes, there’s actually a good reason for this. Chiefly, that 13 is an unlucky number. This sounds stupid, but it is actually a very big deal. It’s why if you go to the United States, you’ll find many hotels don’t mark the 13th floor with the number, it’ll be up as 12a or jump straight to 14.
The phenomenon also extends to other numbers, for example in China, where the phenomenon of Tetraphobia is common. This is a fear of the number four, which is associated with death in many parts of Asia due to the two words’ similar pronunciation in Cantonese. It’s speculated to be a key reason OnePlus chose to change its naming convention and released the OnePlus 5, rather than 4, after the OnePlus 3T back in the day.
As a result, I can see Apple choosing to do a similar tactic with the next iPhone. Around the office many speculated this could see it choose to release a new iPhone 12R, rather than 13. But given the rumours we’ve heard about the next iPhone being a “huge” step up from the iPhone 12 I can’t see this happening. The R branding is only used in years where the next iPhone is a tepid upgrade on the previous model, which isn’t expected to be the case this year.
As a result, I can see it taking a page out of Sony’s book and reverting to roman numerals. In this case naming it the iPhone XIII.
There’s actually a good historical precedent for this. Apple’s already used roman numerals, having released the iPhone X in place of the iPhone 10 in 2017. This would also gel with the ongoing rumblings that the next iPhone is going to be a big release for Apple featuring a number of firsts for the brand, including 120Hz variable refresh rate LTPO ( low-temperature polycrystalline oxide) screen, like the one seen on the Apple Watch 6, a notchless design and emergency satellite connectivity.
This in context would tie to the X, which was the first Apple iPhone to have a notch design that at the time was revolutionary for the phone market. In our original review we went so far as to describe it as “the biggest upgrade to Apple’s phone line” in recent memory. If Apple plans to make similar waves with its 2021 flagship the roman numeral naming convention would narratively make sense.
Which is why, if even a smidgeon of the rumours about Apple’s next iPhone ring true, it’ll be called the iPhone XIII, not iPhone 13.