Representing the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR in Plain Text [Update]

How to type iPhone Xs and iPhone XR

With its upgrades and expansion to the iPhone X product line Wednesday, Apple has again led the public – and the press – on a confusing path when deciding how to represent these new iPhone models in plain text.

Putting the S in iPhone X

The iPhone XS and XS Max, like many “S” models before it, follows the convention of putting a small (capital?) “S” in a box next to the name. This, quite obviously, cannot be represented in plain text, so we need to look and see what Apple is doing internally.

How to type iPhone Xs and iPhone XR Apple’s official press release routinely lists it as “iPhone Xs” throughout the text, with only one outlier at the very end in the Media section where it says, “Images of iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max” with a link for us to grab their product shots in the H1 section of the page where they use some custom CSS that we describe below (see the article changelog for details).

How the iPhone X rolls its Rrs

Apple’s implied guidance on the iPhone XR is worth a bit of digging. Graphically it’s represented with a box around the “R”, just like the iPhone XS. In text, though, Apple’s official press release employs liberal use of a custom all-small-caps class in the HTML to display a capital R at a smaller size, as iPhone XR (I’ve cheated a little here, for the sake of this one example). That’s not going to cut it for plain text references, so we need to look deeper. Thankfully, I was already looking at the HTML, though one need not quite look that far.

Simply looking at the title of the browser window (or tab) of the very same official press release leads us to our answer: “Apple introduces iPhone XR – Apple”. HTML Titles can’t specify varying font sizes, effectively forcing Apple to use plain text here for this. Digging into the HTML we see that “iPhone XR” is how it is written not just in the title, but in all the meta tags on this – and every other – page on Apple’s website.

It seems, for Apple’s branding, the visual consistency of the capital R is more important than the size. Makes you wonder why they didn’t call it the iPhone Xc, doesn’t it?.

Small s, Big R All Caps, All The Time

There’s our verdict: iPhone Xs, iPhone Xs Max, and iPhone XR are the names. Enjoy them, folks… and enjoy the devices they represent!

Update – Rethinking this after some time to reflect: this whole lowercase-letters-as-small-caps thing is stupid… I don’t care what Apple does, even if they find something upon which to standardize, the letters should always be capitalized. And I think that’s Apple’s intention, too: these are all capital letters, some are just smaller than others. Obviously, even for Apple, that’s a pain in the ass to do in any consistent way.

Here at TMO we’re on the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR trains, and that’s where we’re staying.

Article Changelog (yes, folks, we need a changelog on this one!)

Since our piece was originally published, Apple has made some changes to their official press releases.

  • Apple changed the HTML on the iPhone XR press release to use the all-small-caps CSS class for the S in iPhone XS throughout the text. Now, “XS” (without custom CSS) only appears in header, meta, and script tags, and is capitalized every time.
  • Apple added the all-small-caps CSS to the HTML on the iPhone XS press release, but only in the H1 tag on that page. Everywhere else it’s simply, “iPhone Xs” with that lowercase s.
  • Apple also changed the aforementioned text in the “Media” section on the iPhone XS press release to now read, “Images of iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max” — lowercase now vs. the original uppercase here, but oddly not employing their (newly-added-to-this-release) custom CSS class.
  • We here at TMO have changed our internal style guide for this to iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. Not only does it simply look better, it also makes differentiating between multiples easier. Now we can talk about those three iPhone Xs we bought last year vs. the single iPhone XS we ordered last week and let capitalization be an indicator to plurality.

This gets curiouser and curiouser, folks.

One thought on “Representing the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR in Plain Text [Update]

  • I think, in regards to the naming of the XR, that Apple realized that Xc was probably bad branding–linking it to the original c, that was, IIRC rather maligned and overlooked. It certainly wasn’t very popular that I ever saw, while I suspect that the R may be popular…

    Unless, Apple’s using the same marketing thinking that Wendy’s did with the Triple burger. You make three tiers, so that the majority will choose the middle tier. You add a cheap option for those who truly can’t move up, you add a top-tier–over the top–so that people, looking at their choices, choose the middle. This is not, of course, taking into account the older phones that are still in the lineup. 🙂

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