While there’s no doubt that Apple will release a new handset this September, whether it will be called the iPhone 13 or something else is a matter that’s open to debate.
While Apple may sidestep the question this year by making the handset the iPhone 12s, the company was reportedly considering skipping the number altogether.
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And according to one survey, that would be the correct approach. From over 3,000 Apple users consulted, 18.3% said they’d be put off buying a product called the iPhone 13 due to triskaidekaphobia — a fear that the number 13 is unlucky.
Between them, a majority of respondents favored naming the handsets after the year of sale, with 38% backing the not very Apple-like iPhone (2021) and 16% saying the company should follow Samsung, and skip straight to iPhone 21.
It may seem a bit silly to skip over a product because of superstition, but it’s not like Apple would be the first company to do so. Skyrise developers often omit the floor entirely, and you may remember that OnePlus jumped straight from the 3T to the OnePlus 5 in a move that was rumored to be thanks to the number’s association with death in China.
Whether or not the decision makers at these companies themselves are superstitious or not is immaterial: if the population buying the products are, then why would you deliberately do anything that could potentially dampen sales?
Of course, Apple hasn’t shied away from using the number 13 in the past. Not only can you buy a 13-inch MacBook Pro, but iPhone owners enjoyed iOS 13 and the A13 Bionic in the past. But this is a bit different: sales of the iPhone contribute nearly 50% of Apple’s revenue, and even if only a small percentage of potential buyers are put off by the number 13, that could still translate into millions of lost revenue.
While iPhones do tend to be sequential in their numbering, barring the occasional break for an ‘S’ model, there have been omissions in the past. There was no iPhone 2, because Apple went straight from the original iPhone to the iPhone 3G, and the iPhone 9 was also skipped without explanation.
With all of that in mind, we won’t be entirely surprised if we see Tim Cook proudly announcing the iPhone 14 when he takes the stage in Cupertino in September 2022 — whether or not this year’s model is called the iPhone 12s.
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Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.