iPhone 5 may not feature NFC after all, say tech geeks

One of the most persistent rumours about the iPhone 5 is that it will feature NFC, Near Field Communication. However, some dissenting voices are starting to pipe up, saying that it’s highly unlikely the wireless connectivity standard will make its iOS debut in the phone.

According to AnandTech, the next iPhone will almost certainly not feature NFC. And, interestingly, the evidence used is a leaked iPhone 5 picture that has been cited as one that suggests the phone will feature the wireless standard. It’s all about a square chip seen in the leaked photos. Confused? Stay tuned because we may have to get a little technical.

The problem is the space left in the new iPhone, and the size of components needed to make NFC work, AnandTech writes. The leaked picture shows that – predictably – there’s not much spare room in the iPhone 5 innards, and there may not be enough to produce the size of antenna required for reliable NFC performance.

The antenna coils in other phones tend to be laid out flat, across the rear of the phone, but using this arrangement would not work well in the iPhone 5 if we’re to believe long-running rumours that say the phone’s rear will be made of metal. This back could potentially play havoc with such an antenna – metal bodies have already proved problematic in the connectivity stakes in the iPhone  4 antennagate “scandal” and the issues surrounding GPS/Wi-Fi connectivity in the all-metal Asus Transformer Prime.

AnandTech surmises that there’s just not enough space for the most obvious alternative NFC antenna arrangement – jamming the things into the top and bottom regions of the phone.

So, if it’s not an NFC chip, what’s the great big square thing seen in the most recent leaked iPhone 5 photos?  Other possible applications include having something to do with the new camera array, or being needed for the phone’s new screen. The iPhone 5 will reportedly feature an in-cell display made by LG. This integrates the capacitive touch layer into the display itself, meaning it takes up less space. Coffee king Starbucks was an early embracer of NFC

The iPhone 5 screen is likely to be 4in across, with a more widescreen aspect than the current model. A larger-screen phone that won’t be any wider or thicker than the iPhone 4S? Apple is clearly doing its best not to put off Apple devotees.

Other improvements we’re holding out for in the iPhone 5 include a faster processor and improved camera.  However, we’ll admit we’ll be a little sad if NFC doesn’t feature.

What’s your view – NFC: a fad or the future?

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