iPhone 5s. Image source: Apple.

One of the products that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) likely has up its sleeve for the rumored March event is a refreshed 4-inch iPhone. There have been plenty of rumors and leaks that suggest that this device is in the pipeline, which makes plenty of sense since there is still a respectable market for relatively smaller smartphones. Not everyone wants a 4.7-inch to 5.5-inch display.

Most industry watchers have just taken to calling it an "iPhone 6c," but a new 9to5Mac report suggests it might have a different name altogether.

iPhone 5se?
According to Mark Gurman, the new 4-inch model is supposed to be called the "iPhone 5se." The "se" reportedly either refers to "special edition" or the "e" could simply indicate that it's an "enhanced" variant of the iPhone 5s. If you recall that the "s" has always stood for speed, then that would suggest "speed enhanced," or something along those lines.

The 5se is expected to feature a similar overall design, with most of the upgrades being internal such as a faster processer and better cameras. It may also include an NFC chip to enable Apple Pay, which is currently only available on the iPhone 6 or later. Live Photos is also said to be supported but not a pressure-sensitive touch capable of 3D Touch. Instead of chamfers, the 5se may use curved sides like the iPhone 6 and 6s.

An iPhone by any other name would sound better
I've discussed how Apple eventually needs to transition away from numbered iPhone naming conventions for the sake of brand sustainability and longevity. Yet if this rumor proves true, it seems that Apple is digging deeper and entrenching itself in the practice.

One of Apple's brand strengths has always been naming simplicity. While some other consumer electronics companies refer to their products by confusing alphanumeric model numbers, Apple has long shied away from the practice. It does use model identifiers to distinguish specific variants and internal codenames (the 5se is codenamed "N69"), but from a consumer perspective, it's always been pretty straightforward. Apple doesn't use numbers in its Mac lineup, instead referring to computers by model year and display size. Why can't it use something similar with the iPhone?

Don't just take my word for it. Ken Segall was the ad consultant who came up with the name "iMac" nearly two decades ago, and helped Apple come up with its branding and product naming strategies for years. He condemned the iPhone naming convention way back in April 2013, saying the incremental "s" updates were needless complicated from a product branding point of view. Segall's main complaint was that the "s" models indicate that it's an incremental year and doesn't inspire confidence in the product's new features. In his words, "Apple has an impressive track record when it comes to product naming, and clarity has always played a very big role."

Yet, here we are discussing the possibility of Apple appending a second modifier to the name. Will we eventually get a third? How about an "x" for "xtra"?

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.