What we see is Apple is doing what they do best: Taking chances.
They made a risky bet with the iPhone X and covered it with the
iPhone 8. The new and improved perception of Apple might come from
the realization that both bets are winning, and that the iPhone X
is a radically new, as opposed to a merely improved, breed of
smartphone — and probably is the start of a new succession of
carefully incremented future models.
A fork is exactly right: the iterative, familiar iPhone 8 and 8 Plus on one side of the fork, and the novel, back-to-the-drawing board iPhone X on the other.