Last week, the latest tvOS 17 beta revealed four model numbers that almost certainly correspond with the upcoming iPhone 15 handsets. But there were also two mystery models: iPhone14,1 and iPhone14,9, which don’t seem to correspond to anything.
Now the developer who originally found the model numbers has come up with his own theory. AppleDBdev’s @aaronp613 believes the two model numbers don’t refer to a new iPhone SE or the mythical foldable iPhone Flip, but two older handsets refreshed with USB-C connectivity.
This is my guess as to which iPhone models correspond to the unreleased model numbers I found. https://t.co/ykcLQMm3jA pic.twitter.com/VIjJEPqJEQAugust 11, 2023
The logic here is simple. 16 refers to the upcoming A17 chipset (powering the iPhone 15 Pros), 15 references the A16 (regular iPhone 15s) and 14 to the A15, which powers both the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini. Apple typically discontinues Pro models after a generation, presumably to avoid them looking like an appealing budget option, so the regular handsets seem more likely candidates.
To be clear, @aaronp613 is explicit that this is guesswork rather than inside information, but it makes a kind of sense. If Apple is about to make the jump into USB-C accessories, why wouldn’t it refresh an older and soon-to-be cheaper model with the current connectivity?
The quibble I would personally have with this theory is it being the iPhone 13 rather than the 14. To me, it would make more sense for Apple to keep the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus around for another generation, and the numbers still fit given both also use the A15 chipset.
For his part, @aaronp613 addresses this directly, arguing that it “would make more sense to discontinue the iPhone 14 line and have the 13 as a cheap option.”
I don’t entirely buy this. Although the hardware has barely changed between them, casual phone buyers will still be more inclined to buy something with a higher number attached. Unless Apple is having seller’s remorse for killing off the mini range, I just can’t see a reason for it to give USB-C to the 13 over the 14.
We should find out for sure soon enough. For over a decade, Apple has released new numbered handsets in September (with only a Covid-shaped October exception in 2020), and the latest rumor suggests we could be looking at a September 12 reveal this year.