Skip to Content

Former Apple Creative Director Calls iPhone XS Branding ‘Needlessly Complicated’

Former Apple creative director Ken Segall has a real problem with the way Apple branded its latest iPhones.

In a blog post this week, Segall called Apple’s decision to name its new handsets iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR “needlessly complicated.” He derided Apple’s use of the “S” to represent “off years” when the company’s handsets don’t come with such major updates. And he said the company’s decision to use X and call it “ten” is a mistake.

“It’s hard to imagine how a family of only four products could end up with such needlessly complicated names—especially coming from the company that wrote the book on simplicity,” he wrote.

Segall has an impressive resume, thanks in no small part to Apple and its late co-founder Steve Jobs. He’s credited with playing an important role in Apple’s iconic “Think Different” ad campaign and named the company’s all-in-one PC the iMac. He worked alongside Steve Jobs for 12 years.

Since then, Segall has written books on advertising and speaks across the U.S. about his experience.

But his comments about the iPhone’s new branding might ring true with critics who were similarly confused by Apple’s 2018 iPhone names. Segall was especially concerned with the iPhone XR, a new handset that melds features from last year’s iPhone 8 and iPhone X in one.

“What the heck does that R even mean?” he asked.

Still, Segall said it’s not all bad. He applauded Apple for at least using the X in all of its iPhone models. And he predicted next year, we could see the iPhone X2. But it’s in two years, when Apple releases another “S” model, that things might get ugly, he wrote.

“Then, one year later, the Holy Grail of bad product naming will be within Apple’s grasp,” he wrote. “An iPhone X2S will feature a Roman numeral, a number and a letter, all in one name. Now that’s a breakthrough.”