Just yesterday, the rumor mill was buzzing with news that a new leaked iPhone 5 pictures had confirmed the presence of an near field communication (NFC) chip in the upcoming smartphone. Today, however, a report from AnandTech has squashed these rumors, claiming that the iPhone 5 won't include an NFC, which would allow short-range wireless mobile payments, after all.
The hopeful rumor that the iPhone 5 would feature an NFC chip has been floating around for months, but when Apple.pro leaked a picture of a fully assembled iPhone 5 front plate they revealed a mystery part that looked like it might be the long-fabled NFC chip.
However, AnandTech's report discounts these rumors, arguing that the iPhone 5's design (particularly the back) make the inclusion of an FC chip impossible.
"Given the primarily metal backside of the new iPhone, it's highly unlikely that NFC is in the cards for this generation," the tech-review blog explains. "In fact, given the very little space at top and bottom dedicated to those glass RF windows, you can almost entirely rule it out."
Essentially, the NFC needs its own antenna, which could not fit at the top or bottom of the iPhone 5.
"With an NFC antenna at the extreme top or bottom, alignment with non-iPhones (for example, payment tokens or reader tags) becomes a much more confusing task, and that doesn't seem like the Apple-like level of polish everyone is waiting for to drive NFC adoption," AnandTech notes.
Rumors of an NFC chip in the iPhone 5 were stoked by the news of an upcoming Passbook app in the iOS 6, which would be used to organize ticket purchases. However, AnandTech notes that this application could use either Bluetooth or a QR code-based payment system instead of NFC.
So the question is. If the mystery component isn't an NFC chip then what is it? AnandTech has an answer for this question as well, speculating that it could be a new touch and display controller, created for the iPhone 5's redesigned in-cell touchscreen.
NFC technology has taken off in Europe but has yet to catch on in America, and while Google has already begun adapting to the new technology, allowing users to make mobile payments through the Google Wallet app, Apple may feel no need to rush its inclusion, especially if it messes with their sleek design.
However, Apple is likely planning on introducing NFC chips into their devices in the not-too-distant future. The company has already filed a patent for "Motion based payment confirmation" which includes NFC as one of platforms it is looking into to for this technology.
The new patent includes a paragraph describing how NFC chips work:
Payment transactions increasingly occur without the use of physical payment objects such as credit cards or cash. For example, online purchases may be made using credit card information stored in an online account maintained by a merchant or by a payment service such as PayPal. Further, financial account information may be stored on electronic devices and transferred using contactless means, such as near field communication (NFC), radio-frequency identification (RFID), or networking, to complete payment transactions.
Apple has refrained for responding to rumors regarding the iPhone 5, refusing to even reveal the upcoming devices official name or even admit that it exists and is currently in production. Apple CEO Tim Cook is expected to unveil the iPhone 5 at a special event on September 12, and the smartphone will likely hit stores nine days later on the 21st.