iPhone 6C
Apple's anticipated 4-inch iPhone could come with features resembling a beefed up iPhone 5S. Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Apple’s larger iPhones may find themselves with a smaller sibling. IHS China research director, Kevin Wang, is predicting so-called “iPhone 6C” may debut in mid-2016, according to a post on Weibo.

That would place the smaller Apple smartphone’s debut in the middle of the period where many Android manufacturers unveil and launch their new devices. It’s not the first time the smartphone was tipped for a debut. Prior to the launch of the iPhone 6S in September, chatter also surfaced about fall 2015 release for a successor to Apple’s plastic iPhone 5C, which has since been discontinued.

While initial supply chain rumors pointed to a plastic iPhone in the works, a Nov. 3 research note from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also pointed to Apple producing a new 4-inch smartphone which takes on a metal case design and specs that’s resemble an “upgraded iPhone 5S,” according to 9to5Mac. The smartphone is likely to have many of Apple’s modern features such as the Touch ID fingerprint sensor and a A9 processor chip. But it may not come with a 3D Touch pressure-sensitive screen -- unique to the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. Kuo expects Apple to ship 20-30 million units of the 4-inch iPhone by the end of 2016. In the meantime the only option for customers that want a 4-inch Apple smartphone is the iPhone 5S -- which debuted over two years ago.

What isn’t expected to change is the timeline for Apple’s next rumored full smartphone redesign -- the “iPhone 7 -- which is anticipated to debut sometime during the third quarter of 2016. Though Apple’s iPhone 6S has only been on the market for a couple of months, rumors have already started flying out of its supply chain surrounding its anticipated features, which may include a thinner case, edge-to-edge display and a six-core A10 processor.

Smartphones | SpecOut