Surprise, surprise, another purported iPhone 5 component was leaked over the weekend. Late last night, an assembled front panel with Home button and FaceTime camera surfaced on the web.

But unlike the claimed parts we’ve been seeing as of late, this one might actually give us some worth-while insight. It houses an unknown square sensor, which some folks believe to be an NFC chip…

Apple.pro points to the photos, which were recently posted on a Photobucket account. As aforementioned, the part in the pics is of, what is said to be, an assembled front panel from the next-gen iPhone.

On the inside of the front panel, there’s a small square chip to the right of the FaceTime camera. And according to the often-accurate Macotakara, it’s a Near Field Communications sensor:

“I found a part which is considered as NFC sensor is assembled on this LCD part photo. Considering past leaked new iPhone photos which are reported by iLab Factory or other reporters, a hole is pitted beside iSight camera and new expanded flex-cable, which are connected volume button, reaches where this hole palaces. This meant some sensor should be assembled on side of iSight camera, and it was cleared now. NFC sensor is it.”

Combine this with the slew of Apple’s recently awarded patents, Passbook, and its AuthenTec acquisition, and things start to get interesting. For more on that, read Jim’s ‘Making the case for an NFC-enabled iPhone 5‘ from this morning. The post lays out a great case for why we could see it this year.

But will it actually materialize? That’s one thing, perhaps, we’ll have to wait until next month to find out.

  • Hint: That is not a NFC chip nor is Apple utilizing NFC for their mobile payment strategy; however, the chip in question is new and the primary use is for mobile payments.

    • ok then what is it? its located next to the camera on the top, which just magically matches the patent apple filed a month ago for NFC

      • The package depicted in the image is the Authentec 2750 “smart sensor.” Notice the area forward of the unidentified package is wide and short, likely matching the dimensions of the “smart sensor” (13.5mm x 3.0mm). The front face of the image depicts an unusually rough surface on the right side of the device (as the device faces the user) directly over the presumed “smart sensor” which would explain the modification to the front (FaceTime) camera placement. One of the key marketing points of Authentec’s “smart sensors” is their ability to use highly durable materials to protect the sensor array. In fact, the “ultra-hard surface coating offers >9H hardness for >10 million rubs.”

        According to a press release in May 2012, “The AES2750 is available now in an overmolded 19-ball BGA and in production volumes.” Due to the ongoing negotiations with Apple, someone could be forgiven for assuming the press release to be a negotiating tactic.

        Apple has carefully detailed their patents for iWallet (and iWallet Parental Controls) and iTravel to include not only NFC but Bluetooth as well. Further fueling the speculation that Apple may prefer Buetooth 4.0 rather than NFC (near field communications), Apple joined the board of directors of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group in 2011. The failure of Google Wallet to energize and invigorate the mobile payment market adds further evidence that NFC may not be the right technology for mobile payments. If Apple were to enable the acceptance of mobile payments via Bluetooth 4.0 on the new iPad and the iPhone 4S they would instantly have millions of deployments of mobile payment-ready devices with many retailers already using Apple devices as a retail point-of-sale system.

      • You proved me wrong, that does make a lot more sense since apple just acquired authentec. Thank you for the info

      • I am totally onboard this train of thought regarding BT 4.0 – It’s built-in to most if not all of the current mobile products (including MBAirs and MBPros). Makes no sense to use NFC when they have already invested in BT 4.