New rumors this week suggest that a smaller 4-inch iPhone 6c is on the way – and could well land next summer.

It was thought that Apple would release a ‘c’ edition earlier this year when the 6s and 6s Plus were released, but these plans were reportedly dropped.

However, rumors of a smaller, ‘budget’ edition of the iPhone, and the first upgrade to the ‘c’ line since the 5c was first released more than two years ago, have remained. Now, sources believe it will arrive mid-2016.

The rumors come from China’s IHS Technology Research Director Kevin Wang, who made comments on the iPhone 6c via China’s social networking site Weibo. He simply noted that the device was indeed coming, and that it would arrive by the middle of next year.

Many have questioned the legitimacy of the rumor, particularly considering its placement outside of Apple’s traditional release schedule which sees new devices launched in September.

It’s likely that any preceding 6c would confuse consumers and potentially cannibalize on the sales potential of an impending iPhone 7.

However, many have given credence to Wang’s rumors because it mirrors the comments of Ming-Chi Kuo earlier this month (source) – a far more reliable analyst at KGI Securities, who also pointed towards a mid-2016 release for a 6c device.

His comments went into more detail, noting that though the iPhone 6c would have a super-charged A9 processor chip it won’t contain 3D Touch technology. On the other hand, in a divergence from the 5c, it will have a metal case.

The four-inch device will likely appeal to those that miss the smaller iPhone, who may not have upgraded to the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch options across the iPhone 6 and 6s. These rumors give further weight to the idea that the device is coming, but its release date is far more uncertain.

If it’s planned so close to the traditional release date of what would be an iPhone 7, will we instead end up seeing an iPhone 7c?

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