In September 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 convinced that Apple had decided to ditch the 'C' range from its iPhone line-up, but reports keep on appering suggesting that an smaller iPhone 6c (or iPhone 6s mini) might launch in 2015 or 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 mockups.
In the run up to the September Apple event at which we saw the launch of the iPhone 6s Plus and the iPhone 6s there were a lot of rumours about those phones, but not so much about the iPhone 6c, which is what we're calling the 4-inch successor to Apple's iPhone 5c, the iPhone 5s's (marginally) cheaper and (massively) more colourful sibling. However, there are also suggestions that the new iPhone could be a smaller version of the iPhone 6s - being availabe in the same metalic finish.
This article is all about Apple's next 4-inch iPhone - although whether the company will make a new 4-inch iPhone at all, after the great success of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and now the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, remains to be seen.
When will Apple release an iPhone 6c or a smaller iPhone 6s?
While there was no new 4in iPhone announced at the 9 September event this doesn't mean that a new 4in iPhone isn't in the works. Rumours have claimed for some time that that model will not appear until later in 2015 or 2016, but the suggestion is that Apple will not completely abandon the popular 4in form factor.
The latest rumour, as of mid November 2015, suggests that the 4in iPhone 6c (if that’s what it is destined to be called) has started production.
Japanese site Mac Otakara claims that what will potentially be the new entry iPhone has already entered production and will start shipping in the next few months.
It it unlikley that the new phone will launch before Christmas 2015, however. A 2016 launch looks most likely, with rumours coming from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
In fact, it may be a long wait for the new phone, according to DigiTimes sources the device will launch in the second-quarter of 2016.
According to DigiTimes sources (in a later report than the one that claimed the launch would happen in 2015) the iPhone 6c will launch in the second-quarter of 2016. According to the semiconductor industry sources, the iPhone 6c will use 14/16nm FinFET chips manufactured by TSMC and Samsung.
If the 4in iPhone doesn’t arrive until later in 2016 it may be called the iPhone 7c, rather than the iPhone 6c.
Could Apple launch a 4in iPhone in 2015? iPhone 6c for Christmas?
There are also rumours suggesting that the iPhone 6c could arrive before the end of the year, so we might not have a long wait at all. According to earlier reports from China, the smaller iPhone was about to go into production this autumn, with a November on sale date likely. Foxconn was apparently ramping up its assembly lines to build the iPhone 6c which a view to the new, smaller iPhone handset going on sale in November. It has to be said that this now looks unlikley though.
That rumour suggests that Apple will get the handset out just in time for Christmas, which would be good for sales, but releasing a new iPhone in a different quarter would mean that Apple could celebrate better financial results for that quarter than they would have otherwise, which might be in its interest.
But it would be the first time the company had released a phone independently of the other handsets, which would be unusual.
The rumours that a new 4in iPhone is in the works have been running for some time. In late December 2014 analyst Timothy Arcuri of Cowen and Company claimed that his sources had suggested that it is "possible" that Apple will launch three new iPhones in 2015, with one of those new iPhones sporting a 4in display. Arcuri dubs the smaller iPhone the iPhone 6S mini.
A Taiwanese parts manufacturer also said that an 'iPhone mini' is expected to launch in 2015 with a 4in display.
iPhone 6c, 6s mini design, metal case, rebadged iPhone 5s or smaller iPhone 6s?
Apparently the new iPhone 6c (or 6s mini) will not have a plastic case like the iPhone 5c. It will have the same design and colours as the iPhone 6s, just smaller, claims KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
Kuo, who has made iPhone 6c predictions before (see below), states that there is “still demand for a 4-inch 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 that the iPhone 6c will be more like the iPhone 5s than the iPhone 5c have been long running. Some time ago Jefferies analyst Ange Wu claimed that 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.
iPhone 6c, 6s mini design: If it copies the iPhone 5c, what colours will the iPhone 6c come in?
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 WiFi for web access. Perhaps Apple could launch an iPod touch capable of cellular connectivity, kind of like the iPod 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 below, the current colour scheme isn't that different to the Watch...
The iPhone 5c is currently 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 iPhone 6c.
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 that a black iPhone 6c will be very popular.
iPhone 6c, 6s mini price
The only question really 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.
We think that the iPhone 5c is now a good price, but we'd prefer it if it was 16GB rather than 8GB.
As for the iPhone 6c price, 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 entry-point iPhone.
However, with the iPhone 6c being a new phone, will the current iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus still be sold at a reduced price, and if they are will they be cheaper than this new phone? Probably not if the new iPhone 6c is a repackaged iPhone 5s.
We can imagine Apple launching the new iPhone 6c at an entry level phone, with 2014s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus remaining at a lower price, and a new iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus (or iPhone 7) at the high end.
An 8GB iPhone 5c currently 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.
Does Apple need a cheaper iPhone to sell alongside the Watch to offer a low-cost of entry way into the world of wearables? Reports suggest that in contrast to this, Apple is offering a discount on an Apple Watch if it is bought with an iPhone.
iPhone 6c, 6s mini rumous: screen, 3D touch
A source claims that AU Optronics will apparently be producing the 4-inch screens, according to GforGames.
Kuo doesn’t think the iPhone 6c will offer 3D Touch support, writes MacRumors. However, the Mac Otakara report indicates that the iPhone 6c may include 3D touch, as introduced with the iPhone 6s.
According to DigiTimes the new iPhone 6c will use Gorilla Glass.
iPhone 6c, 6s mini rumous: Touch ID
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.
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.
iPhone 6c, 6s mini rumous: Camera
The iPhone 6c will will also offer an improved FaceTime HD camera with a f2.2 aperture, 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 iPhone 6c.
The order is said to be with Sony and is for a significant number of camera sensors destined for the iPhone 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 tweeking 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
iPhone 6c, 6s mini rumous: Processor
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.
The 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.
Kuo thinks that Apple could adopt an A9 chip for this new phone.
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.
iPhone 6c, 6s mini rumous: Bluetooth
The new iPhone 6c will include Bluetooth 4.1, according to reports.
iPhone 6c, 6s mini rumous: Battery
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 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.
iPhone 6c, 6s mini leaked & concept images
Martin Hajek, famous for concept designs of new Apple products, has come 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.
No iPhone 6c was unveiled at the September event, but that doesn't mean Apple won't launch a 4in model eventually.
On 21 May the iPhone 6c was spotted online, and it's on Apple's own website of all places. Take this with a pinch of salt because it could just be a Photoshop error, but there's no mistaking that this photo of Apple's new iPhone charging dock with Lightning connector appears to have an iPhone 5c with a Touch ID resting in it.
And if you know the iPhone 5c, you'll know that it doesn't have Touch ID, Apple's fingerprint sensor that sits beneath the home button on the iPhone 5s and later.
Rumours have claimed that the iPhone 6c might be a repackaged iPhone 5S with a Touch ID fingerprint sensor, so it could indeed be the first glimpse of the iPhone 5c 's replacement.
We'll be following this story closely to see if Apple changes the image or reponds to requests for comment.
Apple website 'leak' aside (let's face it, it's probably a rendering mistake) there are very few leaked images of the iPhone 6c, but there have been other sightings, for example, on 30 March, photos (apparently) leaked that appear to show a new iPhone with a colourful plastic chassis, similar to the iPhone 5c, in the smaller size that many are hoping for.
The images suggest that this is a new iPhone because the camera flash has a different shape to currently – oval rather than round - and there are more holes for the speaker at the bottom of the leaked iPhone shots, which were shared by FutureSupplier, a wholesaler of cell phone spare parts based in China.
This picture shows the camera flash on the new iPhone 6c
Here is another apparently, leaked images of the iPhone 6c:
The iPhone 6c speakers, shared by FutureSupplier.
Not content with waiting for leaked images, designers have created concepts of the device. (See also: The 10 weirdest Apple concept art designs.)
There are also plenty of artistic renders of what the new iPhone 6c might look like. For example, 3D Future has come up with the following renders of how a successor to the iPhone 5c might look:
Front and back
The back of the iPhone 6c as imagined by 3DFuture
Image: 3D Future
We quite like iPhonesoft.fr's iPhone 6c concept, which is slimmer and has an edge-to-edge display.
Designer Martin Hajek has also created a similar concept image:
iPhone 6c videos
To get even more of an idea of that the iPhone 6c might be like, here are some imaginative videos.
One iPhone 6c concept - this time a video - comes from designer Joseph Farahi (below). He's imagined a 4.7in iPhone 6c with colourful plastic chassis just like the iPhone 5c.
SET Solution thinks that the 'c' in iPhone 6c could stand for Curve, so has created a video to show what a curved iPhone 6c could look like.
Other iPhone 6c, 6s mini rumours
It's easy to imagine the changes Apple may decide to make to the iPhone 5c should it decide to continue the product line:
The iPhone 6c could have additional, or different, colours. The five colours used for the iPhone 5c are on-trend for the year 2014, but will they still be fashionable in 2014-2015? If not, Apple may decide to update the colours to suit new fashion trends.
It's also likely that a new iPhone 6c would have an improved camera and processor, and would possibly also be thinner and lighter than the current model. As it stands, the iPhone 5c is slightly thicker and heavier than the iPhone 5s, at 8.97mm and 132 grams compared to the iPhone 5s's 7.6mm and 112 grams.
We also think that if Apple follows this strategy the iPhone 6c will get a Touch ID button for security purposes.
Do you think Apple will release an iPhone 6c? Do you think it should? What new features would you like to see in a future iPhone 6c? We'd love to know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Read on to find out more about the history and popularity of the iPhone 5c, and whether Apple should launch a 4in iPhone...