Rumors about Apple making a return to the 4-inch form factor for future iPhones have been doing the rounds since late last year.
While they seem to have quietened down as of late, however, a new report injects some life into the story by claiming that Apple display panel maker AU Optronics is one of several companies involved with manufacturing 4-inch iPhone panels — for a device which could ship as early as Q1 2016.
The rumor suggests that AUO is likely to be just one of the panel makers for the device, and that others are located in China, Taiwan, and South Korea.
The report doesn’t make clear whether the first quarter of next year is when the panels are likely to be ready for shipping, or if this is when Apple would actually launch the smaller-sized iPhone, although normally there is not a lengthy period of time between manufacturing and retail.
Personally I’ll be treating this rumor with some skepticism, as I have all the reports about a return to the 4-inch form factor so soon after Apple finally took the plunge and started making larger handsets.
While there probably is demand for such devices — particularly among women — it would seem very out of character for Apple to change direction so rapidly, and particularly to start staggering the launch of different iPhones by releasing a new model just months after the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, both of which are expected for September.