The leaks and rumours surrounding Apple’s iPhone 6c -- or is it the iPhone 7c? -- just won’t quit. Like the iPad Pro rumours before it, this in itself is perhaps because the product is actually rather likely to appear during 2016 and attack the very real pool of people that still want 4in iPhones. Apple knows this segment exists and it knows it can make a lot of cash from another iPhone C device, just as it did back in 2013 when it released the iPhone 5c (of which 20-odd million were sold).
China Mobile claims the handset will be available to purchase in mainland China during April. The April date does jazz well with previous reports which suggested Apple will hold an event in March where it will launch a new Apple Watch and, potentially, a smaller, 4in iPhone 6 model.
Word of a new "C" iPhone came first via none other than Ming-Chi Kuo, prominent analyst for KGI Securities. Prominent because of his unnerving accuracy with Apple products over the years. Yup, if you want a prediction about an upcoming Apple device that'll likely come true, Ming-Chi Kuo's your best bet.
It's claimed that the iPhone 6c will not revive the plastic build of the old iPhone 5c, instead being built from metal like the rest of Apple's line-up. What it will revive, however, is the smaller 4in screen size, effectively being an iPhone Mini, of sorts. Kuo explained Apple's plans, which he has heard from his network of insiders within Asia's supply and production network, in a note to investors.
Kuo reckons Apple will introduce a 4in iPhone 6c model next year, as there is still demand for smaller, 4in iPhones.
Kuo wasn't the first time we’ve heard about the iPhone 6c but it is the first time a reliable source like himself has waded in on the rumours. The guy has an excellent track record when it comes to predicting what Apple’s next phones will be like.
Kuo says the iPhone 6c will be powered by Apple's current-gen A9 processor, which may mean it is slightly cheaper than the iPhone 7, which we can guess will use a new A10 by that point. It will also lack the 3D Touch display technology. While Kuo states that this could indicate the iPhone 6c as a "budget" iPhone, we'd remind readers that this was thought about the iPhone 5c too, and although it was technically the cheapest iPhone available, it was still...well...rather expensive compared to rivals. It wasn't really "budget" in the true sense of the word.
Where Kuo's account starts to differ is when you look at what market intelligence company Trendforce has to say. Kuo says Apple will put the iPhone 6c into production in the first half of 2016 but indicated the handset would still arrive in Apple's usual Autumn release bracket alongside an iPhone 7 (and presumably iPhone 7 Plus). However, Trendforce now says the next "C" iPhone will come in mid-2016. But rather than being ahead of schedule, Trendforce believes a mid-2016 iPhone 6c release date is actually BEHIND schedule. There were rumors the iPhone 6c was supposed to be out by this Chirstmas, but with all the focus Apple is putting into the iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus and iPad Pro, their manufacturing couldn't handle another new device.
Regardless on its release date, the news of another "C" model iPhone may surprise many people. The iPhone 5c is often viewed as a failure. But this really couldn’t be further from the case; analysts reckon Apple has shifted upwards of 24 million iPhone 5c units since launch. That is a very impressive figure whichever way you look at it -- did Sony, LG or HTC sell that many phones during the same period? You bet your ASS they didn’t and it is for this reason that a return of the iPhone Xc range makes a lot of sense. It WAS a popular handset.
But there’s also the profit it made Apple too. The iPhone 5c was essentially the iPhone 5 repackaged: it had the same display, CPU, memory and internals, save for bumped up antennas and better LTE coverage. But for the most part it was an iPhone 5 AND because of this, and the fact it was marketed as a NEW phone, Apple made a killing because the bill of materials was much lower.
Anecdotally, I personally know a bunch of people who would bite Apple’s hand off should it release a 4in iPhone in 2016. For a lot of people, even the 4.6in version of the iPhone is too big. In this respect, a 4in iPhone 6c makes a lot of sense.
As of December 7, reports emerged claiming once again that the 4in iPhone variant will not be called the iPhone 6c but will instead be an iPhone 7c model. The word comes via MicGadget which claims to have heard from sources inside Chinese parts suppliers who provide components for Foxconn; Apple's main manufacturing partner. The report goes on to state that the iPhone 7c will arrive in September 2016 ahead of the main iPhone 7 launch, and will be priced between $400-$500.
Wondering what a new iPhone 6c/7c will look like? As is often the case ahead of Apple device launches, someone with 3D modelling abilities has taken it upon themselves to put together the various rumours and leaks into a visual imagining of the forthcoming smartphone design. We've seen repeated rumours that the next C category iPhone will feature a metal build rather than the old plastic, but the jury's out on whether it'll carry on the bright colouration.
Ferry Passchier decided to run with the colourful look in his renders of the 4in, iPod-like iPhone 6c. He depicts the new phone as having a very similar design to the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6, but naturaly smaller, and in a selection of dark pink and dark blue for the metal bodywork, on top of the existing iPhone colours - space grey, rose gold, silver, and gold.