The iPhone Cycle

I’ve owned an iPhone ever since the very first one in 2007. Now 8 years later I feel like there is no need to distinguish between the full number iPhone ie. iPhone 3G,4,5… and the s model ie. iPhone 3Gs,4s,5s. I had a chat about this the other day on Twitter. Since the iPhone 6s release was yesterday I’ve seen the same argument on posts and blogs recently. Some still refer to the “tick tock” cycle while others are proponents of leaving it behind. I’m in the camp that wants to leave it behind.

In the early days of the iPhone it made sense. There was such a big difference between the full number models at that time. Due to new technologies, data connection speeds, processing speeds etc. While the difference between the 3G and the 3Gs was not as substantial as it is today. At that time calling the 3Gs an iPhone 4 would have met with backlash from customers. It was different but most would have felt not different enough to be marketed as a completely new model. Can the same be said now? The difference between the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6s is clearly apparent. I think that is why you constantly hear people say it’s so much harder to skip models now. There are people who would always skip a model. I was one of those people. Since the iPhone 5 however the same hasn’t been true for me.

I personally think the “tick tock” cycle was created by the industry analysts and reviewers then adopted by consumers. The tick was marked by changes in the physical design of the iPhone. However it has been a long time since the original iPhone beduted. The iPhone might get thinner, lighter, lose bezels, gain colors but what happens if the design doesn’t change? If this is finally the look that Apple feels the iPhone should have and the material it should be made of, what then? How do we distinguish between the “tick” and “tock”, simply by name? Look at the iMac or MacBook Pro. The look of it and the material it’s made from hasn’t changed in a couple generations. It’s gotten lighter, lost and gained ports, drives, features, etc.

I have friends who will only upgrade on the full number model. They do it because they feel that the model introduces new hardware and feautures. I also have friends who only update on the “s” model. They believe that the new hardware and features introduced in the full number model has been perfected and the bugs worked out by the s model. There are pros and cons to either approach. As Rene Ritchie from iMore would rightfully tell you waiting for the best model means you will be waiting forever. The s model will always be better than the previous full number model and the subsequent full number model will be better than the s model. It will happen in perpituity as long as Apple makes iPhones.

I also think that at this point the models are so much better each year. Apple would drop the “s” moniker. However humans hate change and without being weened off the idea of the “tick tock” cycle I don’t think Apple would ever take the chance. There are seeds of change being sown however. You can see and hear it when the experts in the industry talk about the topic and start putting the idea out there to stop using the “tick tock” reference. I am willing to bet that as soon as the change takes place. Apple is going to drop the s from iPhone models.