Apple might release 3 new iPhones next year

IPhone 7 conceptYasser Farahi/Oval PictureThis is an iPhone concept designed by Yasser Farahi.

Besides launching successors to the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus, Apple might also release a third, smaller iPhone model next year.

We’ve been hearing rumours of Apple reintroducing a smaller iPhone for some time now.

The latest report comes from IHS Technology research director Kevin Wang (via MacRumors), who posted on China’s social network Weibo over the weekend saying Apple plans to release a 4-inch iPhone next year.

Now here’s what’s interesting about this particular report. Wang calls the 4-inch iPhone the “6c,” not “7c” or even “iPhone 7 mini.” That might mean the phone would perform similarly to the iPhone 6, and might not include features coming to next year’s iPhone 7.

Indeed, a separate rumour about Apple’s 4-inch iPhone says that smaller model won’t come with 3D Touch, one of the new features in the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus.

So even if the company starts selling a smaller iPhone next year, Apple would still push customers to buy the bigger, more expensive phones that come with all the latest features.

Wang says Apple will release this 4-inch iPhone earlier than the traditional September launch for new iPhones. This “mid-2016” release date also aligns with an earlier report from Ming-Chi Kuo, who has an excellent track record with predicting Apple’s product pipeline. Kuo predicted the 4-inch iPhone would launch in the first half of 2016.

All that said, you should certainly take this new report with a grain of salt. Earlier this year, this same IHS analyst, Kevin Wang, predicted Apple would release a 4-inch iPhone 6c this year, but that didn’t happen. Apple reportedly scrapped plans to make a smaller iPhone this year.

Right now, the smallest iPhone currently available is the 4-inch iPhone 5S, but that phone is over two years old. It’s possible Apple will release a phone to accommodate those customers who don’t want a giant phone in their pockets, but given how many products Apple kills before they see the light of day, it’s just as likely we won’t see that smaller phone this year.

As for the other two phones, presumably called iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, we don’t know much about their new software features just yet, but we are expecting a new design aesthetic and plenty of new hardware. Considering Apple’s iPhone history, you can expect the iPhone 7 lineup to be thinner and more powerful than its predecessors, with better cameras as well.

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