Reports originating from China suggest that Apple is set to introduce a new low-end iPhone early next year, in the shape of a device described as iPhone 6c.
The device would be a spiritual successor to the Apple iPhone 5c, in that it would come in a number of bright colour versions. And the form factor would also be closer to the iPhone 5 line than current iPhone 6 products, although with some styling cues from the later line.
The device is also reported to feature a 4-inch screen, a size that Apple shifted away from with its latest iPhones. But it has been reported that it would launch a new smartphone with this size display.
While Apple broke with tradition with the launch of iPhone 5C, the device was not an unqualified success – although this of course is by Apple’s standards, meaning many other vendors would be overjoyed with such a flop.
With the exception of iPhone 5c, the entry level to the iPhone line is generally filled by an older iPhone which remains in the line – currently, this position is held by the iPhone 5S. But the introduction of a new, dedicated entry-level device would also give Apple the chance to support features not present in the earlier device.
In the case of iPhone 5s, the most obvious omission is Apple Pay support, due to the lack of NFC.
It was reported that the 3D Touch feature of iPhone 6s, which can detect different pressure levels, will not be included on the new entry-level model.
Another significant change would be the introduction of a new iPhone outside of Apple’s traditional annual process – the iPhone 5c was announced at the same time as iPhone 5, and the iPhone 6 Plus debuted alongside iPhone 6.
While this would enable Apple to smooth out some of the lumpiness associated with its iPhone release schedule, it would also see it coming into direct competition with rivals announcing new devices around Mobile World Congress in February 2016.
iPhone 7 rumours
Separately, it was suggested that Apple’s next-generation flagship will feature a notable omission – the standard headphone jack. Audio will instead be delivered via either the Lightening port or Bluetooth wireless.
The belief is that this will enable thinner devices, albeit at the expense of traditional headset users. An adapter is expected to be available to convert headsets to Lightening, but it is not clear if these will be bundled or an optional extra.
Apple does have a history of removing features thought standard from its devices, reaching a peak with its latest MacBook introduction, which features a single USB-C port. But the quest for thinness already means that the iPhone camera protrudes from the back of the device, indicating that there is not much more to be gained.