Combing through our archive of posts mentioning “iPhone” and “NFC” is all it takes to realize that talk of Apple allegedly adopting NFC is intensifying, not dying down. In fact, rumors calling for NFC-enabled iPhones date as far back as 2011!
Thus far, however, the iconic smartphone has not picked up support for NFC technology, which is an acronym for Near Field Communication. On the other hand, Apple has numerous NFC-related patents.
Additionally, it doesn’t really hurt to mention that a growing number of high-end Android handsets include NFC as part of their standard feature set. Well, today a claimed image has surfaced apparently picturing an iPhone 6 printed circuit board with what appears to be an embedded NFC chip…
Shared by the French blog Nowhereelse.fr [Google translate] which obtained them from one of its Chinese sources, a series of photographs show the purported logic board said to belong to a 4.7-inch iPhone 6 model.
In addition to the expected components such as three times faster 802.11ac Wi-Fi, there seems to be an NFC chip in there. The publication’s well-informed source has stated that the iPhone 6, internally referred to as N61, has unspecified NFC capabilities.
Despite the obvious similarities between the supposed iPhone 6 logic board and the iPhone 5s motherboard, the former’s layout appears slightly redesigned with screw holes matching up perfectly with those spotted in recent leaks of iPhone 6 rear shell parts.
MacRumors editor Eric Slivka took it upon himself to visualize just how this circuit board compares to the existing iPhone 5s part. In addition to a much longer part extending across what would be the top of a 4.7-inch iPhone 6 model, the components pictured on the images indicate the part could be genuine (though it’s hard to tell for sure).
With the photos showing only the bare printed board and no chips or other components installed, it is difficult to tell much new information from the part, although the locations of some components can be identified based on their similarities to other iPhone logic boards.
NFC is commonly used for contactless transactions and data exchange.
Android, for instance, uses NFC to pair devices securely before establishing an ad-hoc Wi-Fi Direct session between them. This is called Android Beam and select Samsung devices come with the company’ own implementation, dubbed S-Beam, which only works across Galaxy devices.
It’s fairly safe to speculate that Apple doesn’t need NFC for wireless file sharing – AirDrop gets the job done over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Mobile payments? It’s been suggested before that Apple’s own mobile payment solution would pass on NFC due to security concerns – marketing boss Phil Schiller famously said that it wasn’t clear that NFC is the solution to any current problem.
Apple’s many patents may offer some additional clues in the form of NFC-powered digital media gifting between iOS devices, wireless data exchange over NFC, proximity-based data transfers, the connected home (see below) and, yes, the mythical iWallet.
Another possibility: as NFC exchanges are possible between an idle NFC device and an unpowered NFC chip (often called a “tag”), maybe Apple is looking to enhance iBeacons with NFC support?
Let’s also mention that AuthenTec, a smart sensor maker Apple bought to build Touch ID, used to build NFC chips for clients.
With so many conflicting rumors pertaining to NFC-enabled iPhones having been swirling for years now, you’re advised not to get ahead of yourself predicting what this claimed circuit board leak may or may not indicate in terms of rumored iPhone 6 features.
Coincidentally or not, VentureBeat (not the most reliable of sources) earlier this week said that the iPhone 6 packs in an NFC chip, wireless charging, a better 4G antenna and “a much bigger screen”, among several other highly-anticipated features.
One thing’s for sure: Fall can’t come soon enough.