It is looking increasingly likely that Apple will release a smaller iPhone 7 model later next year. Successors to the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus are expected in the next 12 months, but rumors regarding a 4-inch version of the iPhone range have also been circulating in many quarters. As murmurings relating to this device have become increasingly persistent, so speculation has centered around when the handset will finally be released. With Apple having not even confirmed its existence at the time of writing, this conjecture has continued unabated.

Apple To Release Three iPhone 7 Models Next Year [REPORT]

Smaller iPhone 7 coming

But the actual existence of a smaller iPhone 7 does seem probable, at least on the back of new reports from China. The latest suggestion about the existence of the floor-inch-seven comes from IHS Technology research director Kevin Wang. MacRumors picked up on Wang’s opinion recently, with the Chinese social media network Weibo ablaze with these new rumors.

However, although Wang confirms the existence of the smaller iPhone 7, he notably refers to it as the iPhone 6C, as opposed to the iPhone 7C or iPhone 7 Mini. This would suggest that Apple will make a significant demarcation between the smaller iPhone unit and its larger cousins, and this also has implications for the capability of the device.

The suggestion that the new iPhone unit will be referred to as the iPhone 6C suggests that it will perform similarly to the existing iPhone 6. He also confirms the frequently suggested impression that the 4-inch smartphone will not include some of the more advanced functions that will feature in the iPhone 7.

No 3D Touch

This supports suggestions that Apple will not include 3D Touch in the 4-inch iPhone. This new technology, similar to Force Touch that debuted in the Apple Watch smartwatch earlier in 2015, enables functions to be accessed on the iPhone 6 smartphone via various degrees of physical pressing.

It seems that the ethos behind the triple smartphone release from Apple will be centered around the corporation incentivizing customers to shell out for the bigger, more expensive phones that come complete with the latest features. Meanwhile, the iPhone 6C will be utilized as a bargain basement handset intended to pick up custom from people who otherwise would not purchase an iPhone unit.

According to the analyst, Apple will not release the three smartphones simultaneously. This would seem to make sense, if indeed Apple is intending to name the 4-inch variant of the iPhone range the iPhone 6C. There could be obvious confusion if Apple were to release three handsets at the same time, and then attach different branding to one of them.

Mid-2016 Launch

So Wang suggests a launch in the middle of 2016 for the smaller iPhone variants, with June a possible release date. This suggestion is consistent with an earlier report from Ming-Chi Kuo; by now the most renowned Apple analyst in the world. Kuo has already predicted the 4-inch iPhone would launch in the first half of 2016, and Apple’s chips certainly seem to be lining up for such a possibility according to the analyst community.

With this more affordable variant of the iPhone 7, Apple is looking to update its position in the more affordable end of the smartphone marketplace. With the smallest iPhone currently available being the 4-inch iPhone 5S, it is logical for the corporation to provide a new variant. It was predicted at one time that this smaller iPhone would appear at some point during 2015, but this now looks to be an extremely remote possibility.

So it may be that there will not be three models of the iPhone 7, but rather an update to the iPhone 6 range accompanied by two new iPhone 7 devices. But what can we expect from the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus?

This should be a significant release from Apple, as it is widely expected that the consumer electronics giant will redesign the iPhone range for the release of these next generation handsets. Apple tends to reboot the iPhone concept every couple of years, and this should result in a significant departure from previous iPhone releases when the iPhone 7 hits the market.

It has been suggested in some quarters that this could include a curved screen variant of the iconic mobile series, in an attempt to compete with the popular Samsung Galaxy range. Apple has certainly patented this possibility, and other analysts believe that waterproofing will be a major part of the next iPhone 7 smartphone.

Display upgrade

There will be pressure on Apple to produce an iPhone 7 device with a significantly improved display as well. The iPhone 6 lags significantly behind the competition in this department, with the phablet-sized variant of the iconic series being only full HD, and the smartphone model having an even lesser resolution than this.

With Sony having recently released the world’s first 4K smartphone, Apple will be expected to upgrade the iPhone 7 Plus to at least quad HD resolution. This will bring it in line with existing Samsung Galaxy models, although it is possible that the Korean corporation will have moved on to 4K resolution by the time that the iPhone 7 is released.

There have also been some interesting rumors that Apple is investigating sourcing OLED screens from Samsung for a forthcoming iPhone, although the aforementioned Kuo has already poured scorn on this concept for the iPhone 7 at least.

Another suggestion about this forthcoming smartphone is that it will include an LTE modem chip from Intel. These sophisticated chips are responsible for funnelling wireless 4G data to the iPhone. Rumors abound that Apple intends to bundle this technology on the same chip as other operations in the iPhone 7, ensuring that the company which manufactures it would also be involved in producing the main processor. This would make Intel an obvious choice, and this could be one of the most revolutionary decisions that Apple has ever made with regard to the iPhone.

But as consumers await a possible smaller version of the iPhone 7, it now looks possible that this will arrive earlier than anticipated, albeit with a different moniker.