An anticipated update to Apple’s entry-level iOS device, the iPod touch, is increasing the likelihood that Apple will also tweak the low end of the iPhone range this year with an iPhone 6c. Historically, Apple has kept its least expensive iPhone a step ahead of the iPod touch, and a report from Jefferies analyst Ange Wu suggests that Apple will shift from the iPhone 5c’s ‘unapologetically plastic’ frame to a unibody metal casing made by Foxconn. (The image above is a render and solely for purposes of illustration.)
Left almost entirely unchanged since its introduction in 2012, the iPod touch has seen only small capacity, price, and feature tweaks since then, though Apple has continued to support its aging A5 processor with iOS 7, 8, and 9 software updates. After a wrist loop-less iPod touch in new colors was discovered earlier this month in iTunes 12.2, a report today claimed that Apple will upgrade the iPod with a 64-bit processor next week. The most likely candidate for the new iPod touch would be the A7 processor already found inside the iPhone 5s, iPad Air, iPad mini 2, and iPad mini 3. However, the leaked images from Apple suggest that the iPod will lack Touch ID support, a marquee feature of the iPhone 5s and iPad mini 3, but not the iPad Air or iPad mini 2.
Rumors about an iPhone 6c have circulated for months, including a March report from Digitimes that Apple planned to pair a 4-inch display with an A8 processor and possibly an upgraded camera. Plastic shells that were thought to be potentially for a 6c were generally written off as fakes, but the prospect of a new low-end model has continued to generate discussion, particularly as an updated 4-inch iPhone would appeal to users who prefer small screens.
While it wouldn’t be unprecedented for Apple to keep the A7-based iPhone 5s as its entry-level model when the 5c is discontinued, doing so would eliminate bright color choices from the family, and narrow the performance gap between the recolored $199 iPod touch and a $450 unlocked, contract-free iPhone. Since Touch ID, camera differences, and cellular calling abilities would be the only reasons to pick the iPhone 5s over the iPod touch, a boosted iPhone 6c in a new collection of colors could further justify the added cost.