We are used to iPhone leaks coming out of China, and the biggest morsel of information about the forthcoming iPhone 7C yet just came out of the world’s most populous nation. China Mobile, the Chinese state-owned mobile phone network, has revealed that the frequently rumored four-inch iPhone will reach the market early next year.

iPhone 7C info leaked by China Mobile

iPhone 7C confirmed

The mobile operator has recently hosted a presentation revealing its product schedule for 2016, where one of the attendees of the presentation took a photograph that has since gone viral on the Internet. This apparently harmless snap indicates that the China Mobile company will be handling the launch of an iPhone 7C in April.

With the name iPhone 7C attached to it, this suggests that the device in question will be the smaller version of the iPhone range that has been mooted for sometime. And as an apparent favorite of the former CEO and founder of the company, Steve Jobs, the iPhone 7C will appeal to consumers seeking a more affordable yet still up-to-date iPhone.

The presentation doesn’t just provide us with a clue about the existence of the iPhone 7C, it pretty much confirms it beyond all doubt. The slide in question also suggested that this device will launch in April, which implies that the iPhone 7C could be launched alongside the second iteration of the Apple Watch. The Apple Watch 2 has also been linked with an April launch, and it seems probable that Apple will announce a very special event in which both of the products go live.

Interestingly, this latest leak goes against a tidal wave of rumors which previously indicated that iPhone 6C was the most likely name for this smartphone variant. But it now seems that the iPhone 7C moniker will be utilized instead, with Apple marking this device out as very much a precursor to an iPhone 7 release.

Considering that iPhone 7C has been chosen for this device, it does suggest that Apple may arm the smartphone with similar design parameters to the full-size version of this smartphone. This hints that Apple will opt for a metallic design for the iPhone 7C that somewhat resembles the existing iPhone 5S, rather than going for the colorful visage associated with the iPhone 5C.

Galaxy S7 also leaked

In addition to the iPhone 7C, the presentation slides that were snapped in China also suggested that the Samsung Galaxy S7 will launch in March. This means that the latter weeks of Q1 next year, and the early weeks of Q2, will see a major smartphone fight, as the flagship Samsung device goes up against this new Apple offering.

Despite the extremely solid nature of this particular leak, publications have rightly been at pains to point out that this has not been independently verified. Certainly there has been no word from Apple on the existence of the iPhone 7C, and we shouldn’t probably expect this for some time. But this is no ordinary leak, it certainly seems extremely solid in nature, and while the release date and the device name cannot be carved in stone, it should certainly be pencilled in as a strong probability.

Meanwhile, a famous name to all Apple followers has just released a new report sharing critical details of the forthcoming four-inch iPhone. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has been musing on his expectations for the iPhone 7C, and the legitimacy of this analyst’s predictions should not be overstated considering his track record.

A9 processor mooted

Kuo firstly suggest that the handset will ultimately feature the same A9 processor that Apple included in the recently released iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. This is a pretty major suggestion, as the general consensus of opinion was that Apple would instead opt for the A8 unit that was utilized in the iPhone 6. This immediately suggests that the iPhone 7C will be a mid-range device as opposed to the affordable unit expected by analysts.

In addition to the A9 processor, Kuo also suggested that NFC capabilities will be central to the portfolio of the iPhone 7C. In particular, this technology is intended to offer users the possibility of utilizing Apple Pay, with the mobile payment marketplace set to hot up in the near future.

Another interesting design aspect that the analyst points to is the suggestion that the iPhone 7C will feature a 2.5D cover glass that curves at the edges. This would be a departure from the completely planar cover glass that was found with the iPhone 5S. Kuo also believes that Apple will retain the same 8-megapixel and 1.2-megapixel rear and front shooters from previous diminutive iPhone releases. Although considering the A9 processor included in the device, the photographic capabilities should still be improved as compared to the iPhone 5S.

China syndrome

It is appropriate that the iPhone 7C has been leaked from China, as the device will play a significant role in the future of Apple in the most populated nation on the planet. This is an increasingly important smartphone for the California-based company, with the 1.2 billion population ensuring that it is an extremely rich commercial niche. It has already been reported that Apple is shifting more units in China than even the United States, and this trend is only likely to intensify in the future.

Finally, Kuo states that the iPhone 7C will be priced between $400 and $500, “with the aim of penetrating emerging markets and consumers on smaller budgets.” This is perhaps not the low price point that some thrifty Apple fans would have been hoping for, but it is significantly less than one would pay for the full-sized smartphone.

Kuo believes that the existence of the iPhone 7C proves that the iPhone 6S has not fared as well in the market as Apple would have hoped. But the analyst does believe that although the “new 4-inch iPhone may not catalyze [iPhone] shipments,” it should serve to “mitigate slow seasonality for suppliers and a negative impact on share price.”

The smaller version of the iPhone has been one of the worst kept secret in the consumer electronics marketplace, and it now seems an absolute racing certainty.