It wasn’t too terribly long ago when you could easily look up information on a smartphone simply by typing in the manufacturer and the name of the phone into a search engine. “HTC ThunderBolt”, “Motorola Charm”, “Samsung Vibrant”, “Motorola Photon”. Google any of these terms and the first or second thing to pop up will likely be a spec sheet giving you all the information you could ever need on any of these phones. It’s easy to find the information because these names are all unique from one another. When it comes to smartphones today, however, it’s a different story. For most smartphones, you’re not going to have a clever name to remember them by; instead, you’ll be looking them up by a specific code.
You want the HTC One? Do you want the One M7, M8, or E8? Or maybe you were looking at something by LG. Do you want the LG G2 (not to be confused with the T-Mobile G2, mind you), G3, or G3 S? You might as well throw Motorola and Sony in there, too. If you’re looking at the Moto X or a Moto G, do you want the 2013 or the 2014 variant? If you’re considering an Xperia, you can choose between the Xperia Z, ZR, ZL, Z1, Z1s, Z2, or Z3. Then of course you have Samsung, with their Galaxy S series (S2, S III, S4, S5) and now they’ll be introducing some new Galaxy “A” series devices? What? Where did the “A” come from? Oh, it stands for “Alpha”? Why couldn’t we just use that instead? The Nokia Lumia phones are the same way, except with just weird non-sequential numbers: Lumia 920, 925, 928, 530, 531, 1020, 1520, and then the select few Lumias who have names, like the Lumia Icon. Why does the Icon get a memorable name but nothing else does.
Let’s face it, names for smartphones are a complete mess now. Somewhere along the line somebody said, “Screw it,” and either stopped caring or tried way too hard to sound mysteriously cool, and everybody else followed suit. Smartphones once had a good naming system in place, but lately they’re being named like cars. As somebody who doesn’t know the first thing about cars, I can only imagine that the same confusion is occurring with people who aren’t involved with smartphones. If you aren’t in the know, you’re going to have a hell of a time getting there.
If nothing else, we need to simplify the naming system a bit. First of all, the HTC One could have just as easily been the HTC Two this year and would have made perfect sense - it's still sequential! The LG G2 shouldn’t have ever been named that because T-Mobile already made a phone called the G2 a few years ago; the name’s been taken, come up with something else. Sony Xperia is a fine name but there’s no need for the Z’s, is there? I don’t mind the number sequence at the end of smartphones that follow a certain line of smartphones, but the letters have to go. Samsung should probably just quit tacking Galaxy on the end of everything. You could just have Samsung Galaxy phones, Samsung Note phones, and Samsung Alpha phones.
There are 1,025,109 words in the English language. There are not 1,025,109 different smartphones. Find some cool words, slap the name on your phone, make them memorable, and then start a proper number sequence if you want to build the brand from there. Otherwise it just looks like a bunch of crazy Battleship coordinates, and I hate that game. For once, I think manufacturers need to take a lesson from BlackBerry. Last year they used Q10, Z10, and Z30 as the official names for their BlackBerry 10 devices. This year? BlackBerry Passport and BlackBerry Classic. Wow, that was easy. Can’t we just go back to that?
Images via Whistle Out, Tumblr