What happened to the iPhone 9?

iPhone 9 logo with question mark on blue background

In 2017, Apple introduced iPhone 8 and iPhone X, but ignored iPhone 9. In the following years, no iPhone 9 ever appeared. Why didn’t Apple release the iPhone 9? We’re on the case to find out.

The big leap to “X”

At its September 2017 iPhone event, Apple unveiled the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, which were the expected incremental upgrades to the existing form factor set in motion by the iPhone 6 and 7 before it. In particular, these iPhones were equipped with home buttons like all iPhones released before them.

At the very end of the presentation, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced “one more thing” and launched the iPhone X (pronounced “iPhone ten”) which marked a dramatic new direction for the iPhone series. The iPhone X included an edge-to-edge display without a home button, an OLED display, an improved camera, and the debut of Face ID, among other features.

At the unveiling, Cook pointed to the big leap in technology ahead of the iPhone 8, saying the iPhone X was “the biggest leap forward since the original iPhone.” He also referenced the 10th anniversary of the original iPhone release in 2007: “The first iPhone revolutionized a decade of technology and changed the world in the process. Now, ten years later, it’s fitting that we’re here today to reveal a product that will set the stage for technology for the next decade.

The press generally interpreted this statement to mean that the name “iPhone X” (with “X” being the Roman numeral for “10”), was a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the iPhone (as was rumored before the announcement) , but Apple never said that specifically. In fact, Jony Ive said the iPhone X technology has been in development for two years, and the 10th anniversary of the iPhone was a “wonderful coincidence.”

Beyond the anniversary, there were clear marketing reasons to jump over the iPhone 9. The iPhone X introduced a new line of high-end parallel products with the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus costing much more expensive ($999 base price versus $699 for the iPhone 8). ). If Apple had launched ‘iPhone 8’ and ‘iPhone 9’ simultaneously, it would have been confusing – why make iPhone 8 instantly obsolete? Instead, Apple positioned low-end and high-end flagship iPhone models side-by-side and clearly labeled them as different product categories.

That’s great, but what about the iPhone 9?

Phil Schiller in front of the iPhone X in 2017.

That being said, Apple could have easily come back next year and launched the iPhone 9 as the successor to the iPhone 8. But the company didn’t. Instead, Apple ditched the iPhone X and launched the iPhone XR as the low-end flagship model (after the iPhone 8) and the iPhone XS as the high-end flagship phone (completely replacing iPhone X). mean anything but were seen by Apple’s Phil Schiller as references to sports cars. Instead of introducing the iPhone 9, Apple continued to sell the iPhone 8 for several years, discontinuing it in 2020.

In this sense, the second-generation iPhone SE (launched in April 2020) which arrived right after Apple phased out the iPhone 8 could be considered the “iPhone 9” in spirit. It retained the iPhone 8 form factor, including the legacy home button with Touch ID.

People have speculated that Apple is avoiding number 9 for superstitious reasons (similar to Windows 9 rumors) or using “X” as a marketing gimmick to encourage upgrades, but neither theory has been substantiated. by evidence from authoritative sources. Ultimately, a name like “iPhone 9” is just a marketing term, and Apple never found the need for it, so it never saw the light of day.

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