New 4in iPhone on the way
In September 2015 Apple’s iPhone 5c turned two years old, and that led to questions about whether it’ll be the first and last model of the colourful, plastic iPhone. Earlier in 2015, we were worried that Apple had decided to ditch the ‘C’ range from its iPhone line-up, but reports keep on appearing suggesting that an smaller iPhone 6c (or iPhone 6s mini) might launch in 2016. Here, we’ve gathered all of the latest iPhone 6c rumours, including release date, design, specs and features speculation. We’ve also got iPhone 6c concept images and mock-ups.
In the run up to the September 2015 Apple event at which we saw the launch of the iPhone 6s Plus and the 6s there were a lot of rumours about those phones, but not so much about the iPhone 6c, the
hoped-for 4in successor to Apple’s iPhone 5c, the 5s’s (marginally) cheaper and more colourful sibling. However, there are also suggestions that the new iPhone could be a smaller version of the iPhone 6s – being available in the same metallic finish.
While there was no new 4in iPhone announced at the 9 September 2015 event this doesn’t mean that a new 4in iPhone isn’t in the works at Apple. Rumours have claimed for some time that the model will not appear until 2016, but the suggestion is that Apple will not completely abandon the popular 4in form factor.
A rumour in mid November 2015, suggested that the 4in iPhone 6c had started production. Japanese site Mac Otakara also claimed that what will potentially be the new entry iPhone has already entered production and would soon start shipping.
Another rumour in December 2015 from Chinese website TechWeb suggested that the new iPhone 6c (or iPhone 6 mini) could arrive in February 2016, just in time for Valentine’s Day. According to the report, supply chain sources are claiming that the iPhone 6c is on track to debut in February 2016 (translation). However, that report also suggested that the phone may not arrive until the middle of 2016 (which could suggest a WWDC launch).
A February launch date might only make sense in tandem with the launch of the Apple Watch 2, for which a romantic Valentine’s Day launch could make sense (with the emphasis on the heartbeat sharing). But a March or April launch seems more likely – given that the Apple Watch launched in Spring 2015.
We really can’t see Apple holding an event to launch the iPhone 6c without backing it up with the launch of the Apple Watch 2 and perhaps the iPad Air 3.
In early 2016, Chinese network China Mobile ‘leaked’ details of the launch of a new 4in iPhone handset in a presentation, although the fact that the device is referred to as iPhone 7c suggests to us that this could be wishful thinking on their part.
According to the presentation the device is said to launch in March or April 2016, another reason why we don’t think the phone will be referred to as the iPhone 7c (the iPhone 7 is unlikely to launch before September).
DigiTimes sources suggest the device will launch in the second-quarter of 2016. However, DigiTimes doesn’t always stick to the same story, another report from that site, published in early December 2015, suggested that component suppliers to Foxconn, the company that it tasked with building
the new iPhone, believe that the new iPhone will be the iPhone 7c and it will arrive in September 2016, according to Mic Gadget.
And this view is shared by Piper Jaffrays’ Gene Munster who doesn’t think that the new smaller iPhone will arrive in the Spring. He thinks it will arrive alongside the iPhone 7 Autumn 2016. “If a 6c does launch, it seems more likely to come out with the iPhone 7 in fall 2016 rather than in early 2016,” Munster said, according to a report on Apple Insider.
However, he does concede that an iPhone 6c could arrive alongside a new Apple Watch. He said: “Further, we believe a smaller iPhone would not seem to have enough clout to carry a special event by itself, thus if it were to launch in early 2016, we believe it would have to happen in conjunction with the new Apple Watch, as that seems to be the spring event moving forward.”
Some iPhone 6c mock-ups, such as those from 9to5Mac (9to5mac.com) opposite, have appeared, showing new metallic colours and appear to be influenced by the iPod touch, with curved corners.
A TechWeb report in 2015 suggested that the iPhone 6c will sport a colourful metal body, this is contrary to the opinions of various analysts who claim that while the new iPhone 6c will not have a plastic case like the iPhone 5c. It will have the same design and colours as the iPhone 6s, just smaller, according to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
Kuo, who has made iPhone 6c predictions before (see below), states that there is “still demand for
a 4in iPhone, we believe Apple will upgrade this product line”. He thinks that rather than replace the iPhone 5c, though, the company will use the design of the iPhone 6s because it is far more popular.
Like KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, analyst Shaw Wu also claims that the new iPhone 6c with a metal case won’t arrive until the first half of 2016.
The Mac Otakara report suggest that the iPhone 6c will be a rebadged and redesigned iPhone 5s, rather than a direct sibling to the 6s.
The claims the iPhone 6c will be more like the 5s than the 5c have been long running. Some time ago Jefferies analyst Ange Wu claimed Foxconn and Hon Hai would benefit from the metal casing business, causing shares of Foxconn to surge at the time.
Wu thinks that the metal case is likely because it represents Apple’s “style” and helps differentiate iPhones from other smartphones, notes a Barrons Asia report.
Earlier in 2015 Apple updated the iPod touch with a new range of colours – can we expect to see the iPhone 6c share the same colour palette? The specs of the previous iPod touch model were iPhone 4s-era, now that the iPod touch sports the A8 and M8 processors it’s more akin to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus – apart from the fact that it’s got a 4in display.
There is quite a price difference between the iPhone 5c and the iPod touch with the touch costing exactly half the price of the iPhone, despite having twice the storage (as well as a faster processor now):
8GB iPhone 5c, £319
16GB iPod touch, £159
Of course, the iPhone 5c can be used with 3G or 4G, while the iPod touch relies on Wi-Fi for web access. Could Apple instead launch an iPod touch capable of cellular connectivity, kind of like the iPad mini. If it did that it would practically be an iPhone 6c.
Alternatively, the iPhone 6c could come in a colour scheme to match the Apple Watch Sport straps – as you can see opposite, the colour scheme of the iPhone 5c wasn’t that different to the Watch.
The 5c was available in the following colours: yellow, blue, pink, green and white. Apparently the yellow version is the least popular with pink being the most popular and blue the second most popular (apparently around half of all iPhone 5c sales are the pink model.)
The Apple Watch Sport straps come in blue, pink, green and white colours, which as you can see from the image below, match the iPhone 5c. You’ll
notice that Apple hasn’t made a yellow watch strap – probably because that colour is so unpopular. This suggests that we will not be seeing a yellow 6c.
New Watch straps have since been introduced, including an Antique White version and a Product Red version. There is also a black sports strap available for the Watch – suggesting to us that Apple may launch an iPhone 6c in black. We think a black iPhone 6c will be very popular.
The question is will the phone be priced higher if it has a metal casing than if it had a plastic casing?
Prior to the launch of the iPhone 5c much of the talk was about Apple launching a cheaper iPhone, although in the end it turned out not to be quite a cheap as people had hoped.
Until September 2015 the iPhone 5c was sold at a low(ish) price, but we’d prefer it if it was 16GB rather
than 8GB. Before it was removed from sale, 8GB iPhone 5c costs £319 new from Apple (cheaper on a contract). We’d like the new iPhone 6c to come in at £299, the same price as the Apple Watch.
There are suggestions that if Apple launches an iPhone 6c it will be cheaper than the iPhone 5c was at launch, addressing the demand for a lower entrypoint iPhone, but we think this is wishful thinking.
For example, TechWeb claims that Apple is trying to keep the price low in the US, with the handset starting somewhere between $400 (£272) and $500 (£340), which is less than the iPhone 5c’s starting price was when it launched.
Another consideration is that the new iPhone 6c will be a replacement for the iPhone 5s, currently selling for £370 for 16GB or £419 (32GB). So perhaps we can expect a price nearer that level, potentially even higher since it would be a new phone.
Does Apple need a cheaper iPhone to sell alongside the Watch to offer a low-cost of entry way into the world of wearables? In contrast to this, at the end of last year in the US, Apple was offering a discount on an Apple Watch if it was bought with an iPhone.
A source claims that AU Optronics will apparently be producing the 4in screens, according to GforGames.
Apple analyst Kuo doesn’t think the iPhone 6c will offer 3D Touch support, writes MacRumors. However, a Mac Otakara report indicates that the 6c may include 3D touch, as introduced with the 6s.
According to DigiTimes the new iPhone 6c will use Gorilla Glass.
We think that Apple wants to move all its products over to Touch ID so we expect the new iPhone 6c will offer this feature. A TechWeb report suggest that the iPhone 6c will offer Touch ID (so it will work with Apple Pay) but not 3D Touch.
Now that Apple has launched Apple Pay in the UK, it seems likely that Apple’s strategy moving forward will be to offer Apple Pay to more and more customers, and doing that is likely to include making sure that all current iPhones have the ability to be used for Apple Pay - as a result we expect that the entire line up of iPhones in September are likely to offer Touch ID and NFC, so it will make sense for Apple to rebadge and repackage its entry-level iPhone. Earlier this year claims were made that the iPhone 6c would gain NFC and Touch ID, according to a DigiTimes report.
The iPhone 6c will also offer an improved FaceTime HD camera with a f2.2 aperture,e, according to rumours.
We had expected that the iPhone 6c would be a repackaged iPhone 5s, with the same camera as that phone, however,, a report from GSM Dome suggests that Apple has placed an order for camera parts for a 4in iPhone – presumably the rumoured 6c. The order is said to be with Sony and is for a significant number of camera sensors destined for the 6c.
According to the report, two Chinese analysts (one of whom is chief analyst at
Electronic System Design China) claim that Sony can only meet 50% of demand for camera sensors because so many have been bought up by Apple for the new phone.
It’s not clear why these camera sensors are destined for the 4in iPhone 6c and not another new iPhone, but it would appear that the analysts believe the camera is destined for the plastic iPhone.
Another indication that the iPhone 6c may get a new camera can be seen on the back of what are said to be leaked images of the iPhone 6c. The new flash on the back of the leaked iPhone 6c models, as seen in the photograph below, suggests that Apple will be tweaking this phone.
Apple has also been issued patent for a “digital camera with light splitter”. Apple’s system would split up red, green and blue light and send each to a dedicated sensor. This should mean images are clearer and sharper, however, this new camera is likely to only appear in the newer iPhones
The iPhone 6c is said to have an A8 processor, according to DigiTimes. That’s the same processor as is found in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, while the iPhone 5s uses the A7 processor.
A Mac Otakara report also suggests the new smaller model will use the A8 processor, rather than the A9 processor found in the iPhone 6s.
However, this contradicts Kuo who claimed that the new 4in iPhone would use the newer A9 chip.
According to DigiTimes semiconductor industry sources, the device will use 14/16nm FinFET chips manufactured by TSMC and Samsung. This is a
change to the original plan to use 20nm chips. Apparently the smaller chips will enable a specs upgrade and lower power consumption.
A report from KGI in January 2016 also predicts that the new 4in device will offer an A9 processor, as well as 16GB of storage, NFC, Touch ID, and 2GB of RAM.
The new iPhone 6c will include Bluetooth 4.1, according to reports.
Apple is hiring experts to work in its battery division. According to a report on Apple Insider, Apple has advertised nine positions within the last month, some of which are explicitly oriented towards iOS devices, according to the site. However, any new battery technology is unlikely
to make it in to the iPhone 6c, instead we expect that this phone will offer the same battery life as the iPhone 5s does currently.
A leaked image of the battery (see page 29) that will apparently features inside the iPhone 6c has appeared on French website, NoWhereElse.
It’s a 1715mAh battery, which is better than the 1510mAh battery in the iPhone 5c, but smaller than the iPhone 6 1810mAh.
It may also have a bigger 1642mAh battery, according to some Chinese reports.
Martin Hajek’s concept image
Back in 2015 Martin Hajek (martinhajek.com), famous for concept designs of new Apple products, came up with some images of what he thinks the new iPhone 6c will look like. His designs are metal – not plastic like the iPhone 5c.
The iPhone 5c was a hit with consumers