Is Apple Prepping An iPhone 5S-Sized iPhone 6c For Later This Year?

It’s still a few months away, of course, but there’s virtually no doubt that Apple is going to be coming out with a new generation of iPhones this fall. One of the biggest questions on the minds of Apple fans, though, is whether the next generation of iPhones will finally have a smaller handset option alongside the expected iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus.

When Apple showed off the newest versions of its iPhone – the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus – last fall, tech observers noted that the the company’s move to a larger iPhone form factor left something of a gap. iPhone lovers no longer had any cutting-edge option in the size range of the iPhone 5S.

Of course, the iPhone 5s, the iPhone 5c, and the iPhone 5 were still options, but those devices all lacked the newer processors seen in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Additionally, neither the 5, 5s, or 5c has the near-field communications technology seen in the newer iPhones. That technology is necessary for users to take advantage of Apple’s Apple Pay wireless payment system.

Why is any of this an issue? Why not just upgrade? Well, iPhone lovers have been upgrading in droves, as evidenced by the gargantuan sales of the latest iPhone models. Still, though, some consumers would definitely prefer to have an iPhone that fits as easily into the palm as the iPhone 5s. Ever since Apple introduced the new iPhones, whispers have abounded that the next generation would see the return of the iPhone 5s-sized option.

So, was there any truth to those rumors? Is a 4-inch successor to the iPhone 5s on the way?

Unfortunately for smaller-handed iPhone lovers, that smaller iPhone model doesn’t appear to be in the cards. At least, it doesn’t look like Apple will be showing off a 4-inch iPhone with the same high-end build qualities of the expected iPhone 6s or iPhone 7. Instead, according to a recent AppleInsider report, Apple may be preparing to take the internals from the iPhone 5s, wrap them in plastic, and sell them as the iPhone 6c.

The move would be in keeping with Apple’s established pattern regarding its aging iPhone models, as the iPhone 5 was repackaged as the iPhone 5c a few years back. It’s unclear, though, whether Apple would simply transplant the guts of the iPhone 5s into a plastic form factor and call it a day. Were Apple to add its NFC technology to the repackaged iPhone 5s, the company could conceivably grow the user base for its Apple Pay system, as the “iPhone 6c” would presumably be targeted at lower-income consumers picking up the device for cheap or for free on contract.

[Lead image: iPhone 6s concept render via ComputerBild.]