For the past year, several reports hinted Apple may release a cheaper and smaller, 4-inch iPhone soon. Although the so-called iPhone 6C didn’t arrive with the 6S and 6S Plus, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Indeed, rumors of the low-cost 4-inch iPhone live on.
We’ve compiled all the rumors new and old about Apple’s smaller iPhone 6C right here for those of you who are still dreaming of a return to the smaller iPhone.
Rumors of a 2016 launch
In a note to investors that was obtained by Business Insider after the iPhone 6S launch, analyst Ananda Baruah from Brean Capital stated that the 4-inch iPhone will arrive in the spring of 2016.
“A new lower-end iPhone – either a smaller functional iPhone model or a “skinny (our term) iPhone 6 sized phone,” he wrote. “This would allow AAPL to tap into emerging market / lower functional ASP-sensitive areas of the smartphone market.”
Baruah’s statements line up with several other analysts’ predictions for the iPhone 6C launch date, so it’s entirely possible that his predictions are correct.
An August report from DigiTimes cited supply chain sources who claim that Apple will launch the iPhone 6C in the second quarter of 2016. DigiTimes‘ sources stated that the iPhone 6C will be a follow-up to the iPhone 5C, so it will cost less than the premium iPhones. However, the 4-inch form factor was not confirmed in the report.
In late July, analyst Timothy Arcuri of Cowen and Company — who was the first to hint of the return of the 4-inch iPhone — stated that plans for the 4-inch iPhone 6C have since been scrapped. Earlier on in January through March, Arcuri saw signs of a smaller iPhone in production line plans, but in recent months, the iPhone 6C seems to have disappeared.
“I think one of the reasons is because the iPhone 6 has sold so well,” Arcuri said, reports Business Insider. “And they said, ‘Look, why would we want to cannibalize? If we came out with an iPhone 6C, we would essentially cannibalize a price-reduced iPhone 6.'”
Another analyst called Ming-Chi Kuo earlier stated in a note to investors obtained by AppleInsider that Apple won’t launch the 4-inch iPhone 6C until 2016. The company’s reasoning seems to be that the iPhone 5S is still enjoying strong sales among customers, and Apple is reluctant to throw in another device to compete with those sales. He also believes that when the 6C does launch, it will support Apple Pay.
In July, Jefferies analyst Ange Wu wrote in advice to clients that Foxconn — a major Apple supplier — had won the contract to build at least half of the total number of iPhone 6C bodies for Apple, and that they would be made of metal. The original iPhone 5C came only in plastic, and so far, leaked images supposedly of the iPhone 6C have also shown a device that has a plastic body.
The report also hints at the iPhone 6C’s release in 2016, which fits in with an early June story from Chinese site UDN that stated manufacturer AU Optronics had been asked to produce 4-inch iPhone screens for a device that may arrive in the first quarter of 2016. The rumor doesn’t seem to have a lot of weight behind it, though.
Possible specs are mid-range
Much like the iPhone 5C, the 6C is expected to have less-than-stellar specs for a lower price. So far, rumors seem to agree on most of the details, though some are in contention.
DigiTimes cited supply chain sources who claim that Apple will launch the iPhone 6C in the second quarter of 2016, instead. The publication’s sources say that Apple plans to use 14/16nm FinFET chips from the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and Samsung, which will not be ready for 2015. Originally, Apple planned to use TSMC’s 20nm process, but the FinFET processors proved to be the best bet because they would allow the iPhone 6C to have better specs and battery life.
DigiTimes also reported that Apple will launch a 4-inch iPhone 6C along with the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. The smaller iPhone is said to be powered by the A8 processor, have NFC, and sport the Touch ID fingerprint sensor. Presumably, that means the iPhone 6C could use Apple Pay. Leaked images appear to leave off the sensor, though, so it’s unclear whether the cheaper iPhone will get Touch ID.
A recent leaked image of what appears to be a smaller 1,715mAh battery that could have been for the iPhone 6C recently appeared on Nowhereelse.fr, a site with a good track record with Apple products.
In a note to investors leaked to AppleInsider, analyst TimothyArcuri suggested Apple may launch an “iPhone 6S Mini” with a 4-inch screen. The device would supposedly sport similar specs to the iPhone 5S, but include a few low-cost components. This may make the device more budget friendly, making it sound like a revamped iPhone 5C. Arcuri claims the smaller iPhone will have the same, curved edge design as the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
Leaked images show plastic design
Leading on from this, when Apple itself launched a new Lightning dock for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, it was accompanied by an image of a brightly colored phone docked into it. The iPhone 5C is Apple’s most colorful phone, but this device held a secret. Looking closely at the Home button revealed a chrome surround and an absence of a square icon, giving the impression it’s a Touch ID sensor — a feature not found on the iPhone 5C.
Could this be the iPhone 6C, accidentally leaked by Apple itself? It’s possible, but it could also be a poorly constructed press render, in which we’re seeing something that doesn’t really exist. However, the Touch ID fingerprint sensor is an essential part of Apple Pay, and the mobile payments system isn’t compatible with Apple phones without it. If an iPhone 6C is coming, it’ll almost certainly have Touch ID. The picture has since been removed from Apple’s site.
Before this, the first pictures of what appears to be the colorful plastic housing of the iPhone 6C leaked, and in a very similar color to the model used in Apple’s dock promo photo. The pictures were spotted by Future Supplier, a relatively unknown publication, so take a look at the pictures with a healthy dose of skepticism.
Rumors of a launch in 2015 dashed all to pieces
While most sources seemed to have given up hope for the iPhone 6C this year, noted leaker Evan Blass (@Evleaks) tweeted that the iPhone 6C would arrive “concurrently” with the 6S and 6S Plus, which debuted this September. He did not name his source and admitted that plans can change. Indeed, the plans did change, and the iPhone 6C did not launch alongside its larger brothers.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also dismissed the idea of the return of the 4-inch iPhone in 2015.
Earlier on, MyDrivers picked up a note from U.S. investment firm Zacks Equity Research, which states that Apple hopes to sell 10 million 4-inch iPhone 6S handsets in 2015. According to the firm, Apple feels “forced” to comply with customers’ desires and continue selling 4-inch iPhones. Apparently, though, that wasn’t enough to motivate Apple to launch the cheaper iPhone in 2015.
We’ll keep you updated on all the latest iPhone 6C rumors here.