iPhone 6C
Apple's next plastic smartphone -- the anticipated iPhone 6C -- may make an appearance before the end of the year. Pictured: The iPhone 5C on display at an Apple event. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Apple’s next aluminum iPhones may find themselves with a plastic sidekick. According to a Weibo post by IHS technology director Kevin Wang, the so-called “iPhone 6C" will launch before the end of 2015.

But it isn’t likely to make an appearance in September. The plastic 4-inch iPhone 6C’s timing may be closer to November, since Foxconn factories are ramping up production for that target date, reported the China Times.

When Apple began selling the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus last year, an upgrade for the plastic 5C was notably absent. This later led to rumors that it was saving the plastic 6C for a 2015 debut. In March, images of what was purported to be a pink iPhone 6C case indicated the company may at least be looking to build a 4-inch smartphone for its lineup.

In May, Apple accidentally posted pictures of a 5C charging dock and on top of it was a plastic iPhone with Touch ID fingerprint reader. Since the 5C doesn’t have a fingerprint sensor, that led to fresh speculation about the iPhone 6C.

While the consensus from most analysts is that Apple may be developing a plastic iPhone, they don’t necessarily agree on when it will go on the market. Wang points to the end of this year. Mobile leaker Evan Blass tweeted earlier this month that the 6C will launch alongside the rest of Apple’s new iPhones in September.

But on the other end of the spectrum, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo wrote in a research note that it’s more likely that the plastic 4-inch iPhone is more likely to launch in 2016, according to 9to5Mac. To make things even less clear, Taiwan’s Digitimes has also hinted at an iPhone 6C launch sometime in the second quarter of 2016.

Consumers will know soon enough. Apple is expected to hold a media event the week of Sept. 7 to unveil its latest iPhones -- the anticipated 6S and 6S Plus. It may also reveal a number of other products, including upgraded iPads and a revamped Apple TV set-top box.