How Smartphones are named?

You walk into a store, looking to inquire about what could be your next phone purchase. The salesperson brings out a couple of phones all bearing different names like Phone A, Phone Lite, Phone Note, Phone S/plus, Phone Pro, Phone Max, and/or even Phone Ultra. This begs the question, “How are smartphones named?”

In this post, we are going to look at the different smartphone naming schemes, how some major companies use them in naming their devices, and how smartphones are named.

How smartphones are named

We all know that smartphones are not all made equal. Some are way better than others. It is for this reason that smartphone companies use different smartphone naming schemes. These naming schemes are designed to help customers or buyers identify which phones are better than others. It also helps them to make better purchases.

Anyone who is well-versed in smartphones knows that there are different grades of smartphones based on quality. These smartphones are generally divided into five classes: flagship, flagship killers/premium midranges, mid-range phones, budget, and entry-level phones.

These categories usually play a huge part in determining how smartphones are named.

Read: All major smartphone SoCs according to their categories

Smartphone naming schemes

The different names given to smartphones to show their quality are usually written as a suffix e.g. iPhone 6S or Xiaomi Mi Note 10 lite.


The A suffix is usually used for naming entry-level phones. A phone like the Redmi 9A is a very good example of this.

This is not to be confused with phones like the Samsung Galaxy A70. If you noticed, I said earlier that the A appears as a suffix (9A) and not a prefix (A9).


A phone with the lite moniker shows that it is a stripped-down, inferior, or cheaper model of another phone. Both phones may look alike outwardly but are completely different on the inside. The lite version uses inferior SoCs, cameras, batteries, software, etc.

A good example is the Infinix Hot 10 and Hot 10 lite. The Infinix Hot 10 is a mid-range device while the Hot 10 Lite is an entry-level device.

Another fine example is the Mi 11 and the Mi 11 lite. The Mi 11 is a bonafide flagship, while the Mi 11 Lite is a midrange device.


Whilst this name has been abused and misconstrued in recent years, phones under the Note name usually have big screens. Back in the days when the average phone screen size was 4.5″, these phones were built to be bigger than the regular ones. Fun fact, they were once known as phablets.

These days, however, the average screen size is around 6.0″ and most phones could pass for a “Note”.

Read: Apple’s SoCs on iPhones explained


A “vanilla” phone refers to a standard/regular phone in a series. This phone is the basis on which other phones are named/judged.

The iPhone 12 is the vanilla device of the 12 series. Another good instance is the Samsung Galaxy S21.

Vanilla phones carry no extra names.

S or Plus:

Both the S and plus (+) can be used separately or interchangeably. They generally refer to a device that is better than the vanilla model.

Good examples of these are the iPhone XS, Redmi Note 9S, Redmi Note 10S, etc.


A pro phone is better than both the S/plus and the vanilla model. In some series, the Pro model is the best one to buy. This is because it is built with the best of everything, from the SoCs to cameras, batteries, screens, and so on.

A fine example here is the Tecno Camon 17 Pro of the Tecno Camon series. Another example is the Redmi Note 10 Pro (Global) of the Redmi Note series.


Usually known as Max or Pro Max, this name depicts a high-end or flagship device in Apple’s case. The Pro Max phone is much better than the Pro and S/Plus devices. It is also far better than the vanilla devices.

The iPhone 12 Pro Max is the flagship device of the iPhone 12 series and Apple’s mobile division as a whole.

Read: Mi 11 Pro and Mi 11 Ultra


The ultra moniker depicts the ultimate phone. The phone that has the best of everything. The best one that money can buy.

Phones like the Samsung S21 Ultra and the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra embody the pinnacle of what a smartphone can achieve at the very top level.

Please leave a comment if you have any difficulty and remember to:


    1. Doesn’t really mean anything. It’s just something to denote that the XR is less than the better XS, because R comes before S in the English alphabet.

      When interviewed, Apple’s VP (marketing) Phil Schiller said it refers to the budget models of cars like the Toyota Matrix XRS. This is a cool way to say that the phone is a budget iPhone. The XR has been replaced by the SE (Special Edition).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *