In Depth

iPhone 6C: will Apple launch an iPhone Mini?

Rumours have long been circulating about a four-inch iPhone 6C, but many analysts remain to be convinced

Ever since Apple followed the lead of Android phone-makers and launched two large-screened phone last autumn, a small but vocal band of customers has been demanding the return of the four-inch handset – the mythical iPhone 6C or 7C of numerous leaks and rumours.

Apple, once the last big phone-maker to insist that small was beautiful, now has no four-inch phone in its flagship line-up. The iPhone 6 measures 4.7 inches, and the iPhone 6 Plus a whopping 5.5 inches. Although the small-screened 5S remains on sale, it has not been updated for nearly two years.

Yahoo recently reported that Apple was working on an all-new, four-inch iPhone 7C, which would revive the brand suffix last used on the iPhone 5C – a cheaper, plastic-backed version of the smartphone.

A leak from Taiwan implied that components company AUO will begin to deliver four-inch screens in the first quarter of 2016, which Yahoo takes as an indication "that Apple plans to release the iPhone 7C alongside the other two iPhone 7 models later in the year".

However, in May tech news site BGR suggested that the "4-inch iPhone 6C is closer to becoming a reality than we thought" and said that Apple was "starting to place component orders for the device".

Two Chinese analysts, Pan Jiutang and Sun Changxu, said that local smartphone makers were struggling to source camera sensors because Apple has snapped them up for the iPhone 6C, which "could be launched in September".

More recently, reports have suggested that we won't see an iPhone Mini until at least next year, while others claim that although Apple is working on a four-inch phone, the new device will be strikingly similar to the existing iPhone 5C.

An image intended to promote the iPhone's Lightning docking port, which Apple recently posted on its own website and then deleted, shows what at first glance appears to be an iPhone 5C. However, keen-eyed observers noticed that the phone included a Touch ID fingerprint reader, which is not a feature of the existing phone.

Therefore, concludes Forbes, "it appears we are looking at its successor – possibly the heavily rumoured iPhone 6C". But the news site took this as a blow to hopes of a full-spec iPhone Mini.

"The continuation of the iPhone C range appears the final nail in the coffin to a fully fledged, premium 4-inch iPhone 6S," it says.

No other details about the prospective specification of the iPhone 6C or 7C has emerged, and Apple never comments on new products in advance of their official unveiling.

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