We first saw a rumour back in early January that Apple may have been working on two “iPhone 9” models, and while the report came from DigiTimes, which has a mixed track record when it comes to these kinds of rumours, it actually had some logic to it, since the new entry-level iPhone, regardless of whether it’s actually going to be called the “iPhone 9” will for all intents and purposes be a direct replacement for the 2017 iPhone 8. In fact, the only major difference will be the shiny new A13 CPU inside.
Apple is still selling both the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus right now, and it stands to reason that with the release of the new iPhone, it would in the very least discontinue its direct predecessor. This would leave Apple with the decision to either discontinue both models — without offering a direct replacement for the larger 5.5-inch version — or continue selling the iPhone 8 Plus as a sort of oddball legacy iPhone. So it’s easy to see how the release of an “iPhone 9 Plus” would be a much easier way to solve this problem — assuming of course there’s been any real demand for the older 2017 version of the larger iPhone.
The ‘iPhone 9 Plus’
According to code found in iOS 14 by 9to5Mac, however, it looks like the earlier rumours are true and Apple is indeed working on a larger model of its new budget iPhone, and not surprisingly it looks like it will be the same direct replacement for the iPhone 8 Plus as the long-rumoured 4.7-inch model will be for the iPhone 8. This means an A13 CPU, but a design that otherwise remains virtually identical to the iPhone 8 Plus. Both models will almost certainly lose 3D Touch, as Apple has discontinued that feature from all other current iPhone models.
This also lends weight to the fact that Apple may indeed go with the “iPhone 9” name. Up until early December last year, most had speculated that it would be called the “iPhone SE 2” in honour of Apple’s last entry-level iPhone, which was released back in 2016 as a direct successor to the 2013-era iPhone 5s. Since this newer iPhone, however, would have more in common with the iPhone than with the original iPhone SE, and because Apple skipped over the number nine on its way to the iPhone X, “iPhone 9” has seemed to be the most logical naming convention for the new device.
That said, Apple could still surprise us with a curveball once the new model is actually announced, but it’s also safe to say that this particular iPhone isn’t really that big of a marketing deal for Apple, either, so they may not care about choosing an especially creative or unique name.
It’s also worth noting that so far these references have been found in iOS 14, which isn’t scheduled to even be previewed until June, as opposed to iOS 13.4. This could suggest that Apple plans to release the iPhone 9 Plus later this year, but since the iOS 14 code seen by 9to5Mac are internal Apple builds and not otherwise available to the public, it’s equally likely that Apple hasn’t yet added this code to its developer and public iOS 13.4 betas.