Why it’s an iPhone 5s and not an iPhone 5S

white iPhone 5s camera

Apple has again changed the way the iPhone’s name is spelled out on paper. If you can remember, back when the first incremental upgrade to the iPhone line was released, Apple typed it out like this on paper: iPhone 3G S. Yes, there was a space between the “3G” and the “S” — Thankfully, Apple eventually caved in, or just didn’t care enough to make a big deal out of it when we refused to spell it that way. The iPhone 4S lacked the space between the number and letter, and all was well with the world.

Now, on the day of the unveiling of two new Apple devices which both sport a suffixed alphabetical character, debate ensues once again. This time, though, the argument isn’t about spaces, it’s about cases. And I’m not talking about the hideous swiss cheese cases it’s trying to push on unsuspecting iPhone 5c adopters, I’m talking about textual case — the upper and lower variety.

Apple has ditched the upper case call letters in favor of a lower case letter. That means that the iPhone 5C isn’t the iPhone 5C at all, it’s the iPhone 5c. That also means that the iPhone 5S is now the iPhone 5s. Apple’s even gone retroactive on us and replaced the iPhone 4S with the iPhone 4s (same device, different name on paper).

The question is, why? Why would Apple go through the process of confusing us bloggers, (because let’s face it, we’re probably the only ones who care about this type of stuff) and go and change it again? The answer to that question is probably a lot more straightforward than it first appears.

A conversation on Twitter between twelve south co-founder Andrew Green, and Macworld’s Dan Frakes reveals a quite possible and logical reason for the change.

The simple fact of the matter is that “iPhone 5S” could confuse people. Consumers could easily mistake it for “iPhone 55” or “iPhone SS” (eek!), depending on the typeface used. In other words, the “S” too closely resembles a “5” and vice versa. It’s not the controversial answer I was looking for, but it makes a lot of sense. It’s also worth mentioning that at the same size and font, which is Helvetica New Ultra Light, the S looks bigger than the 5.

So instead of just making it the iPhone 5s, and letting the remaining offerings use uppercase letters, Apple probably thought that it would be better to use the same number and letter scheme across the board. That’s why we have the iPhone 5c, and the newly christened iPhone 4s to go along with our new finger print sensing, wide aperture loving, gold toting, iPhone 5s.

And that, folks, is the likely answer to the question.