Another day, another iPhone 5 rumor. This time it comes from the China Times (translated), which is claiming that a prototype of Apple's next iPhone is already in the trial stages of production and will be packing a slightly larger screen, a Near Field Communications (NFC) chip, an A5 processor, and a tweaked antenna design that will combat attenuation when it arrives later this year.
The news, which was picked up by GadgetsDNA, comes following months of on-again, off-again news that Apple is exploring NFC in its products, with a larger goal of building out a payment network that will let consumers use their phones to pay for purchases at retail locations. Competitors like Google have already begun supporting NFC in the Android OS, with hardware makers like Samsung and Nokia having shipped NFC-enabled devices. Meanwhile, the payment tools that will find a place at retailers are being readied.
Guesses that Apple intended to drop an A5 processor into the next iPhone began almost as soon as the chip was introduced with the unveiling of the iPad 2 at the beginning of this month. Shortly following the release of iOS 4.3, crafty code sniffers were also able to find mentions of the processor as part of the build for a yet-to-be-announced device in the iPhone family.
This is also not the first time there have been murmurs about a new antenna design. Readers might remember the iPhone 4 antenna became the center of attention shortly following the phone's release, after a number of tests confirmed that signal strength could be affected by gripping the phone. Apple responded by holding an event to share data about the issue and demos of it happening to other smartphones, as well as to announce a program that would provide iPhone 4 buyers with a free case, or a return of the device. The company then made slight tweaks to the exterior, wraparound antenna between the GSM and CDMA versions of the iPhone; expectations remain that the design for the next iPhone will continue that trend.
As for the larger screen, the China Times report builds on a story in Digitimes from mid-February claiming that the iPhone 5 would sport a 4-inch screen, adding a half inch to the existing 3.5-inch display that has remained constant throughout all four generations of the iPhone. The validity of this rumor was further strengthened a few weeks later, with a purported 4-inch screen part showing up on a Chinese reseller's Apple parts site.
Along with the iPhone 5 rumors, the China Times also adds that Foxconn parent company Hon Hai Precision Industry plans to expand its operations into Sao Paulo, Brazil, specifically for the creation of products for Apple. That facility is said to be opening in 2013. The closer proximity to the U.S. could make for a significant change in shipping of products to the States and South American countries, as well as help keep up with some of the demand for products like the iPad 2, for which Apple now lists a lead time of 4 to 5 weeks for new orders.