Rumors of a 4-inch iPhone 6c have been rife for some time, and comments from analysts this week seem to have solidified these whispers. According to market observers at Jefferies, Apple is currently working on such a device internally, and it will indeed be referred to as the iPhone 6c when it is released.
iPhone 6C under way at Apple
According to sources close to Apple, the consumer electronics giant is treating this smaller version of the iPhone as an extended version of the existing iPhone 5s. This popular version of the iPhone range shifted 9 million units in a weekend when it first went on release back in early Q4 2013.
However, it seems that the iPhone 6c will follow a very different release schedule. According to a note from Apple which has apparently been leaked to Jefferies, the iPhone 6c will be released in the first quarter of 2016. This would suggest that it will hit the stores before the second version of the Apple Watch, which is also expected to emerge in 2016, probably in Q2.
Aside from the release date there are two other key takeaways. Firstly, the device will indeed have the much cited 4-inch display. Secondly, it is reported that the iPhone 6c will come complete with strong metal casing. This is presumably intended to ensure that the device is durable, as a smaller smartphone could potentially be vulnerable to the sort of headlines that we generated by ‘Bendgate’ last year.
Jefferies also suggested that the design of the iPhone 6c will be consistent with previous Apple iPhone releases. With a new version of the iPhone expected for release before the end of 2015, it is reasonable to presume that the iPhone 6c will follow the template set by this device. Apple has always relied on outstanding design to attract consumers, and it certainly doesn’t seem likely that the iPhone 6c will break the mould in this regard.
As Apple is intending the iPhone 6c as an extended version of the existing iPhone 5s concept, it is interesting that the company will utilize a unique process in order to manufacture the metal casing. It is presumed by Jefferies that the casing in question will require a more complicated CNC and anodization process.
While many rumors have surfaced regarding Apple and the iPhone range, it is important to note in this case that the findings of Jefferies are based on industry surveys. This means that the company has spent time observing and analysing suppliers close to Apple; thus, this information cannot be cited as being direct from the horse’s mouth.
But previously leaks from the Apple supply chain have proved to ultimately be accurate. Indeed, most aspects of previous iPhone releases were predicted and expected before they ever came to fruition. So although it is still possible that these elements of the iPhone 6c could change before its release, it is certainly well worth paying attention to the opinion of Jefferies.
Q1 2016 release
It is particularly interesting that Apple apparently intends to release this new product in the first quarter of 2016. This would break with Apple tradition in terms of iPhone releases, and could indicate that there is an extremely busy calendar year in prospect. Apple has been linked with a wide range of new product releases, owing to the fact that it promised the city in 2014 that it would develop new revenue streams in the foreseeable future. Both the iPhone 6 Plus phablet and recent Apple Watch smartwatch can be seen as examples of this policy.
Reports do seem to suggest that this will be a more ‘serious’ smartphone than previous versions that have been attached to the ‘c branding’ monicker. It appears that Apple is ready to dispense with the colorful and plasticky design of previous affordable versions of the iPhone, and instead produce a compact version which still has an overall professional appearance.
Chinese iPhone 6c leaks
Chinese news publication Economic Daily previously reported that the display manufacturer AU Optronics is working on 4-inch screens for a new iPhone, and this is entirely appropriate. Apple will certainly be looking for the iPhone 6c to perform extremely well in East Asia, with China clearly a central target for the corporation.
In the early weeks of 2015, it was reported by the analysis firm Gartner that Apple had exceeded Samsung in pure sales of mobile devices. While Apple is unquestionably the premier mobile manufacturer in the world, Samsung has outsold the corporation for some years, based on its policy of offering affordable devices to the East Asian marketplace in particular.
However, Apple’s growing popularity in the world’s most populous nation means that it has now become the largest seller of mobile devices, as well as the most profitable. It is undoubtedly the case that Apple will view the iPhone 6c as an ideal product for the Chinese marketplace. Although there is a growing middle-class in China, affordable technology products are still popular with its population being in excess of 1 billion .
The release date of the iPhone 6c is thus probably intended to provide Apple with plenty of time to plan its release in multiple markets. Although Apple will still intend to shift a large number of units in its traditional western markets, it is nonetheless probable that the iPhone 6c will be particularly targeted at East Asia. With previous iPhone releases having been delayed in China due to government regulations, Apple now has the opportunity to prepare its product for market in order to achieve a uniform release across the world, or at least something close to it.
Late founder and CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs, stated explicitly that he favoured a smaller smartphone as the ideal size for the device. It is thought that the iPhone 6c is being produced very much in line with this ethos, and according to Chinese sources it seems that we will witness this handset being released early in 2016.