'Trial' iPhone 5 features NFC and improved antenna

Like a long-running love story from your favourite soap, the story of NFC and the iPhone 5 really is keeping us glued to our (office) seats, taking new twists and turns as every week passes. We left the story about 10 days ago as you might recall, with Apple concerned about a lack of a standard for NFC across the industry. At that point, we thought it was all over. But the China Times has just raised our hopes of a return.

According to Crave, the China Times is now claiming that the new iPhone will support for Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. It also claims the new model will have a 4-inch display and a reworked antenna design. No surprises on that last count. How does it know? Well, it says that the iPhone 5 is actually in 'trial production', and has a 'metal chassis to improve antenna sensitivity'. It also says the 4-inch screen will be scratch-resistant.


Downside? Your annual upgrade might be a little later this time, with those same sources claiming a launch will be in the third quarter of this year. So maybe a July launch, with a shelf date of late summer.

All of it makes sense, with the possible exception of NFC. Early reports indicated Apple had a strategy in place for its introduction - using iTunes gift card balances and the credit card info Apple already has from you to make swiping payments at compatible retail outlets. There was even talk of loyalty credits and points to sweeten the deal.

However, those more recent reports claimed Apple had made it clear to operators that it was not progressing with NFC. Will the technology be in there, but not be used initially? Or is Apple throwing up some smoke and mirrors to journalists? We honestly don't know, but NFC is looking a lot more likely today than a week ago. The truth will probably only be revealed in Steve Jobs' summer keynote.

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