Apple's iPhone 5c is now more than a year and a half old, and that has led to questions about whether it'll be the first and last model of the colourful, plastic iPhone. Earlier this year, we were convinced that Apple had decided to ditch the 'C' range from its iPhone line-up, but new reports suggest an iPhone 6c might launch this year after all, and the latest leaked image comes from Apple's own website. 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.

There's already a lot of talk about the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 6s, 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. 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, remains to be seen.

LATEST UPDATE: The iPhone 6C seems to have appeared on Apple's website, hinting that the new smartphone will have Touch ID.

iPhone 6C spotted on Apple's website

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.

iPhone 6c release date: When is the iPhone 6c coming out?

Evidence has emerged suggesting that Apple is planning to launch a new 4in iPhone in September. 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, see our section below for more leaked images.

On 25 March 2015, more rumours from Asia claimed that Apple plans to launch three new iPhones in September, one of which will feature a 4in display that could be called the iPhone 6C.

That rumour came from DigiTimes, who claimed we'll be getting an iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus and iPhone 6C later this year.

The report claims that the iPhone 6c will have an A8 chip like the one found in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, NFC and Touch ID.

That's not the first time we've heard rumours that a new 4in iPhone is in the works at Apple. A Taiwanese parts manufacturer has said that an 'iPhone mini' is expected to launch in 2015 with a 4in display.

In late December analyst Timothy Arcuri of Cowen and Company backed up the report, claiming that his sources have 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.

But in early January, those of us who want Apple to refresh its 4-inch iPhone range were disappointed to hear new predictions. A Chinese-language website called feng.com (the same site that reported the claims above, in fact) cites sources within Apple's supply chain who say that no such device exists at present; and that Apple has not made "any new production tasks" related to a 4-inch device.

Here's what the site says in more depth (converted from Chinese using Google Translate, so please forgive the clumsy phrasing):

"Supply chain sources said that Apple has not made any new production tasks iPhone 4 inches to parts of the supply chain, and therefore will be launched on 4-inch screen Apple iPhone 6s argument is not true - at least so far. Sources believe that after using the 4.7 inches of the iPhone 6 listing has been refreshed Apple smartphone sales record, and therefore the re-launch of the new Apple iPhone 4-inch screen is likely to suffer the same embarrassment like iPhone 5c market reaction."

Doesn't sound good, does it? But we've since heard the rumours from DigiTimes that suggest we might see an iPhone 6c after all, we can only hope that the Feng.com source has got things wrong, or that plans are simply not sufficiently advanced for plans to have reached the supply chain.

[We have the latest rumours about the Apple iCar here, plus read why we don't think Apple will make an iCar]

Read: Is it possible to get a free iPad? The truth about free iPad scams

iPhone 6C design: What colours will the iPhone 6c come in?

Rumours claim that the new iPhone 6s will come in rose gold, but we don’t expect that the iPhone 6c will get a metallic finish.

However, we do think that the iPhone 6c will come in a colour scheme to match the Apple Watch Sport straps.

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 price

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.   

iPhone 6c rumours: New features

What's the next step for Apple's 'c' series iPhones? Will Apple bring new colours for the iPhone 6c? Will it get new features such as a camera upgrade, a processor boost or a design tweak? 

We think that Apple wants to move all its products over to Touch ID so we surmise that the company could decide to repackage the iPhone 5s in a similar polycarbonate case to the iPhone 5c and sell it at a lower price. Customers would get all the features of the iPhone 5s, but Apple would be able to produce it for less, enabling the company to lower the price.

iPhone 6c rumours: Camera

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 rumours: 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. 

iPhone 6c rumours: NFC

The new iPhone 6c will gain NFC, according to a DigiTimes report.

iPhone 6c rumours: Touch ID

The new iPhone 6c will gain Touch ID, according to a DigiTimes report.

iPhone 6c rumours: Gorilla or Sapphire Glass

According to DigiTimes the new iPhone 6c will use Gorilla Glass.

iPhone 6c rumours: 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

Will the iPhone 6c be a repackaged iPhone 5s?

Should Apple follow the format that it did when it introduced the iPhone 5c – repackaging the iPhone 5 in a polycarbonate case – we could expect the iPhone 6c to be a repackaging of either the iPhone 5s.

Rather than introduce an iPhone 6c, a discounted iPhone 5s may become the entry-level iPhone in 2015. The 16GB version of the iPhone 5s may replace the iPhone 5c, but we think that Apple would be wise to repackage in plastic and rebadge the iPhone 5s as the iPhone 6c, perhaps adding an NFC chip while they are at it.

Why Apple should launch an iPhone 6c

Here's why we think Apple should launch an iPhone 6c this year.

1)  We think that Apple needs to continue to offer a 4in iPhone. For some people even the 4.7in iPhone 6 is too big.

2)  While Apple and Apple Shareholders care more for profit and good margins than marketshare, having a lower-cost phone to offer people who haven't yet owned an iPhone is a great way to get them into the ecosystem. It's also necessary for breaking into the huge markets of China, India and Africa.

3)  Apple has for a number of years offered a previous year's flagship model as a low-cost entry-level phone and it's a strategy that has served it well. The iPhone 5c was a slight departure from this practice, but was essentially a repackaging of the iPhone 5 a year after that model launched. Since the launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in September 2014 there have been four phones on sale. We expect Apple to continue this practice, but we don’t expect to see the iPhone 6 repackaged as the entry level just yet. The iPhone 5s is a more likely contender for this rebadged entry-level role, we think.  

4)  The iPhone 5c has been a great success, despite complaints that it wasn’t as cheap as expected. Described inaccurately as a flop, Apple was estimated to have sold 24 million iPhone 5c models by June 2014.  By October 2014 it had topped the UK smartphone sales charts. According to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech: "The iPhone 5c was the best selling phone in Britain in August with 8.9% share, outselling the flagship iPhone 5s with 7.6% and the Samsung Galaxy S5 with 6.0%."

5) Reports are suggesting that the iPhone 5s is continuing to sell well, as well as the iPhone 6, in fact, and better than the iPhone 6 Plus. The reason for this is likely to be due to some people preferring a handset that is 4-inches, rather than 4.7- or 5.5-inches. The Kantar Worldpanel’s research indicates that during the three months ending in October the iPhone 5s was the second best selling iPhone in the US, behind the iPhone 6. It accounted for 26% of the devices sold in that period. There are a few other reasons why the iPhone 5s may have outsold the iPhone 6 Plus, one is that supply of the biggest iPhone has been constrained. Another reason is that the three months that ended in October also included almost two months of sales prior to the new iPhones going on sale. Whatever the reason though, it does suggest that there is a lot of interest still in the 4in iPhone model.

Read more about the iPhone 5c.

iPhone 6c leaked images

While there are no leaked images of the iPhone 6c, designers have created concepts of the device. (See also: The 10 weirdest Apple concept art designs.)

Here are our first, apparently, leaked images of the iPhone 6c:

The iPhone 6c speakers, shared by FutureSupplier.

The iPhone 6c camera, shared by FutureSupplier.

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

Touch ID

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 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. 

The iPhone 6c will run iOS 8, which Apple unveiled during its WWDC 2014 keynote. You can find out more about iOS 8 here.

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.

How successful was the iPhone 5c?

In Apple's 27 January 2014 financial call, Apple CEO Tim Cook effectively acknowledged that the sales of the iPhone 5c were not as high as expected. "It was the first time we'd ever run that particular play before, and demand percentage turned out to be different than we thought. We sold more 5S than we expected," Cook said, tacitly admitting that the iPhone 5c under-performed.

At the time Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said: "Demand has not been good. [Apple] will discount it and use that as a lever to improve unit growth. I don't think they will get rid of it completely."

Jefferies analyst Peter Misek was even more harsh, he thought the iPhone 5c had a short life-span ahead of it. "I would expect them to cancel the product after the iPhone 6," he said. "Price cuts are not what Apple does. They build products that they are passionate about and then charge accordingly."

However, the iPhone 5c has not been as unpopular as some have presented it to be. The iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c both outsold Samsung's leading smartphones in 2014. Back in May 2014, according to research from Counterpoint, the iPhone 5s was the best selling phone in the UK. During that month sales of the iPhone 5s accounted for 11.1% of the market while the iPhone 5c sales were 11% - in the same period the just-launched Samsung Galaxy S5 saw just 9%. See: iPhone marketshare.

Looking at Counterpoint's worldwide data, the iPhone 5s is still out in front, although the Samsung Galaxy S5 moves into second place above the iPhone 5c. See: Is the iPhone 5c really a flop?

Furthermore, Apple was estimated to have sold 24 million iPhone 5c models by June 2014.  And by October 2014 it had topped the UK smartphone sales charts, becoming: “The iPhone 5c was the best selling phone in Britain in August with 8.9% share, outselling the flagship iPhone 5s with 7.6% and the Samsung Galaxy S5 with 6.0%,” according to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

We think that despite suggestions that the iPhone 5c has been a "flop" it has proven to be a popular alternative to the iPhone 5s and before that, the iPhone 4s.

Will Apple discontinue the iPhone 5c?

Rumour has it that Apple is going to discontinue the iPhone 5c before the end of 2015.

There is some credibility to the claim as KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes it to be true, and he is generally quite a credible analyst. Kou claims that iPhone 5c and iPhone 4s production will end in 2015. The 4s is still sold in emerging markets.

When Apple announces the successor to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus we think it is likely to discontinue the iPhone 5c, with another iPhone taking its place as the entry level model.

So expect the iPhone 5c to disappear in September 2015, or maybe even before then. 

There are several reasons why we think it's a good idea for the iPhone 5C to be discontinued. The iPhone 5c is now only available with a paltry 8GB of storage. Given that installing iOS 8 took up 5.6GB of storage for some, many iPhone 5c users will struggle with future updates unless they use iTunes to update the iPhone – the only way to update to iOS 8 without deleting anything.

You might also like: Why 16GB isn't enough for iPads and iPhones

The iPhone 5c doesn’t include a finger print scanner and therefore will not be able to support Apple Pay. Despite the fact that it has a fingerprint scanner, even the iPhone 5s cannot support Apple Pay instore as it doesn’t have an NFC chip.

[Find out about the Apple Watch: Complete Guide to Apple Watch: release date, UK price, specs, size & weight]