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NFC Technology Not Coming to Next-Generation iPhone

For a while now it has been speculated that that the next-generation iPhone will incorporate near field communication (NFC) technology. This is the same technology that enables the touchless payment experiences at retail outlets. This speculation was heightened when Apple announced Passbook, an application for sorting all of your digital payment credentials and amounts, as a feature of iOS 6 at this year’s WWDC.

Macotakara recently posted photos of an assembled front panel wherein they went so far as to highlight an area of the component where they believed that at least some of the NFC technology is located. AnandTech has issued their own report and claims this cannot be NFC due to the next-generation iPhone’s metal backing. There is also little space at either end of the device that isn’t covered with metal, so it’s almost a certainty that NFC will not make it into the new iPhone expected to be announced next month.

Iphone 2012 not nfc

Further backing up AnandTech’s claim that there will be no NFC tech in the new iPhone, The Loop’s ever-well-connected Jim Dalrymple chimes in with a simple “Yep”.

Personally, I wondered if this technology would make it into the new iPhone, especially considering that Apple will likely be putting 4G LTE in the device. I’m no hardware engineer, but I would wager that you can only add so many new technologies to a device without needing a bigger battery. That is, until the technologies become more energy efficient.

Besides, the infrastructure isn’t in place either. I have yet to walk into a retailer that offers an NFC payment system. Passbook is undoubtedly the first step in this mobile wallet direction, but NFC is lagging a ways behind at the moment.

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  • Jeremy

    The front isn’t completely covered with metal.

  • James Wester

    Regardless of whether the iPhone 5 has NFC on it, some basics about the technology are required.

    First: NFC is NOT about payments at this stage. There are dozens of use cases for NFC-enabled phones that have nothing to do with payments. NFC and mobile payments are NOT the same thing and Apple knows that.

    Second: If you live in the U.S. then you HAVE “walked into a retailer that offers an NFC payment system.” Anywhere you can pay with contactless you can pay with NFC. That means every Macy’s, Subway, McDonald’s, CVS, Walgreens and dozens more allow you to tap a phone and pay.

  • Nikki

    Apple is notorious for not caring if a technology is widely adopted before adding it to their own hardware – FireWire, for example. So I don’t buy that excuse about NFC at all. Besides, the reason why contactless payments is not ubiquitous across retail is because nobody has phones that can pay that way – at least in the US. That’s a basic chicken & egg problem that the phone manufacturers are going to have to solve first.

    However Apple also has made many attempt to set a standard which didn’t really catch on (hello, FireWire). So I hope you’re wrong that NFC is not included, and I hope even more that whatever they eventually decide to include isn’t some Betamax version of what NFC ought to be – technically superior, but not widely adopted. James is right – NFC isn’t just about payments, but even so, I think the world of mobile payments is going to be settled in the next year. Apple can either be ahead of that, or behind it with the iPhone 5.