The notion of a smaller iPhone 7c model has been doing the rounds for some time, and recent reports suggest that we might finally see Apple confirm it in the foreseeable future. There have been a huge amount of rumors circulating regarding what will come next from Apple’s smartphone range, with analysts and observers unable to even agree on whether the next Apple smartphone will be called the iPhone 7 or iPhone 6s.

But the idea of a small iPhone offering, possibly with a 4-inch screen, has been an enduring aspect of the Apple rumor mill during 2015. This concept first emerged at the beginning of the year, as initial reports flooded in from Korea that the Apple supply chain was gearing up to produce such a device.

iPhone 7C: Apple's 4-inch Model Will Release In 2016 [REPORT]

Steve Jobs and the iPhone 7c

In order to understand Apple’s desire to produce a smaller smartphone – which would certainly appear to go against the grain of mobile fashion – one needs to understand a few particular historical aspects of the corporation. Firstly, the sadly late founder and former CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs, stated while he was alive that he had a personal predilection for smaller smartphone devices.

Jobs in fact suggested that the ideal size for a smartphone screen should be considered 3.5-inches, and explicitly stated his desire for Apple to produce such a device during his lifetime. Although the 4-inch iPhone 7c smartphone floated by observers and analysts is not quite as diminutive as the one as suggested by Jobs, it does represent a significant step in that direction, and toward the heritage of Apple and its iPhone range.

It is worth noting that Apple, in fact, resisted the pressure of opting for larger screens in the early days of the iPhone. However, as fashion inevitably caught up with the iconic Apple smartphone, there was increasing pressure on the consumer electronics giant to produce Apple smartphones that fitted with the cultural and technological zeitgeist. Thus, today the iPhone series looks much like any other smartphone, with the exception of the design quality with which the Apple series is almost ubiquitously associated.

New revenue streams

In addition to this historical context, the production of this smaller smartphone also serves an economic imperative. It is easy to forget this now, but Apple’s share price actually slumped considerably at the beginning of 2014. This seems almost inconceivable now, as Apple has just enjoyed one of the most stellar years of any company in any industry or niche in economic history.

But after lukewarm sales figures marred the early months of 2014, the company promised to explore new product niches and revenue streams in order to satisfy investors and the city. The iPhone 7c should be seen very much in this context, as an opportunity for Apple to develop the new revenue streams which it has promised that economic hierarchy.

Set for 2016 release

So the iPhone 7c has been expected for some time, and a new report suggests it could actually manifest at some point during 2016. This might be slightly disappointing for Apple fans who had hoped to see a more affordable variant of the iPhone hit the market during this calendar year, but it is stated that Apple will concentrate on the production of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus during the remainder of this year.

According to the Economic Daily News, the manufacturer AUO has already struck a deal with Apple in order to supply 4-inch displays. The consumer electronics giant would naturally intend to utilize these in a forthcoming iPhone 7c, and the publication reports that production will commence in the third quarter of 2016.

If these early reports turn out to be accurate, Apple will release three new smartphones during 2016; a first for the company. This would mean that 2016 would be an extremely busy year for Apple, with three new smartphones released, a new version of the Apple Watch smartwatch expected, possibly the release of an iPad Pro, and rumors still linking the corporation with an upgrading of its Apple TV service, and possibly even a physical television set.

Apple vs Samsung

Multiple news sources are now suggesting that Apple will indeed released this hotly anticipated device early in 2016, which will be of particular interest to Samsung. The Korean manufacturer usually releases its Galaxy S series early in the second quarter of each calendar year, but may consider changing its schedule should the iPhone 7c release earlier in the year than anticipated.

It is also interesting to attempt to predict the Apple iPhone schedule over the next 12 to 18 months. It is now widely expected in accordance with these reports that Apple will release an iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus later this year. These will almost certainly hit the stores in October, but the release schedule for 2016 seems cloudier.

One would expect a significant gap between the release of the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 7c, which could possibly suggest that this new smaller device might be unveiled in February ahead of a March release date. This would leave question marks regarding the release date of the larger version of the iPhone 7, which has been widely reported by numerous sources to be a revolutionary device currently under development at Apple.

If Apple release three iPhone 7 handsets during 2016, it is possible, as has been predicted previously by ValueWalk, that Apple will delay the release of the smartphone-sized and phablet-sized version of the iPhone 7 until October; effectively one year after the release of the iPhone 6s.

What does seem certain is that we are going to see a smaller version of the iPhone 7, which will be particularly aimed at more affordable marketplaces. In particular, the device should sell extremely well in East Asia, and enable Apple to gain a greater market share in China. The corporation has already experienced excellent sales in the world’s most populous nation in recent years.