NFC on the Next iPhone: Not Likely

Rumors that Apple will include Near Field Communication, or NFC, technology in the next iPhone suffered a blow on Tuesday when AnandTech listed the technical problems associated with the feature based on what has been reported to be the next iPhone’s case design. Adding to the potential NFC death blow was The Loop’s Jim Dalyrymple backing up AnandTech’s analysis.

Waiting for NFC on the next iPhone? Don't hold your breath.Waiting for NFC on the next iPhone? Don’t hold your breath.

According to AnandTech, NFC requires large antennas and that’s typically accomplished by coiling wire on a flat surface, and in this case size does matter. To get the antennas big enough, phone makers use as much surface space as they can — like the back of the phone’s case. Considering the next iPhone is rumored to have a back that’s nearly all metal, there isn’t enough space for an antenna that’s both effective and easy for end users to aim at NFC readers.

Based on the rumored design of the next iPhone, the NFC antenna would have to be small, and positioned at the top or bottom of the phone. Users would have to know exactly where the antenna is positioned in their iPhone so they could aim that part at the NFC scanner, which us far less elegant than simply holding the phone near a reader.

The Loop backed up the analysis with its trademark “yep,” meaning “Yep, AnandTech got it right. No NFC in the next iPhone.”

While NFC has the potential to make shopping easier by letting consumers use their smartphones as digital wallets to complete transactions, there’s still the potential for frustration since not all NFC systems are compatible. Leaving customers confused why they can pay with their iPhone as some stores but not others doesn’t seem like the Apple way — and that, as much as anything else, is a perfect reason for Apple to stay away from NFC for now.

[Some image elements courtesy of Shutterstock]