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Analyst: Apple releasing new 4-inch iPhone in 2016

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iPhone 5S

Apple is reportedly readying a new 4-inch iPhone model for early next year.

If true, this would represent the first 4-inch iPhone since 2013's iPhone 5S (pictured). From the iPhone 6 onwards, Apple has never released a smartphone smaller than 4.7-inches.

The report comes from KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (via 9to5Mac), who is well known for his reports and predictions on Apple's plans. He has a reasonable, if far from perfect, hit rate.

Kuo claims that the new compact iPhone "resembles an upgraded iPhone 5S," suggesting that Apple won't be returning to the plastic stylings of the iPhone 5C. Another sign that this will be a relatively premium smartphone comes from the claim that it'll run on the same A9 CPU that powers the recent iPhone 6S.

One premium feature the new 4-inch iPhone won't include, according to the report, is 3D Touch. Apple's pressure-sensitive technology will continue to be restricted to the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus.

The new small iPhone should ship some time in the first half of 2016. Additional claims that Apple could ship between 20 million and 30 million units by the end of 2016 suggest that there's still a sizeable market for a compact model.

Related: iPhone 6S vs iPhone 6: What's new?

Kuo also comments on the next major iPhone refresh - likely to be the iPhone 7. It's not massively surprising stuff, with claims that it'll once again involve 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch models, and that they'll run on custom A10 CPUs.

However, Kuo also claims that this time around, the larger Plus model will feature 3GB of RAM while the regular model sticks at 2GB.

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