Why Apple's next phone might not be called the iPhone 7

Every summer, rumors brew as anticipation for the next iPhone release heats up. Speculation swirls about the device's supposed screen size, camera quality, processing power, physical design and more. But what's usually set in stone is what the handset will be called. For the last several updates, Apple has alternated between major redesigns – given a new number altogether – and iterative improvements marked with an "S." For example, Apple released the iPhone 4 in 2010, followed by the 4S in 2011; the iPhone 5 in 2012, succeeded by the 5S in 2013, and so on. 

This year, that could all change. 

Up until this point, most analysts have assumed Apple would be following a similar naming system, making this the year the iPhone 7 would hit shelves. Next, year, that pattern was expected to break, with Apple jumping up a full number yet again to celebrate the iPhone's 10th birthday with a radically redesigned handset. New reports, however, suggest Apple could be preparing to make 2016's iPhone yet another iterative improvement, waiting until 2017 to jump to the iPhone 7. 

So what would we call this year's iPhone? Some predict it will be dubbed the iPhone 6SE, following in the footsteps of the iPhone 5SE which replaced the 5S as Apple's entry-level handset earlier this year. While it would break what has become a predictable mold, this approach could make sense, considering the new phone is expected to sport a similar design to the existing iPhone 6 and 6S models, featuring internal upgrades in favor of aesthetic changes. 

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