This is a component that has never been seen before in the company's previous line of handsets, as Apple Insider reports. The images of what is believed to be a full front assembly of the iPhone 5 were found on Sunday and were originally published by Chinese website Apple.pro. Earlier this month it was reported that photos allegedly leaked of a partially assembled front plate of the iPhone 5. These new pictures may seem similar, but when examined closely one can see that more parts and components are visible.
What is believed to be an NFC chip is located next to the front-facing camera, according to the purported leak. This component, which is covered by EMI shielding, matches up with the dimensions of NFC packages that are currently available such as the one offered by NXP. This was initially pointed out by Japanese Apple news blog MacOtakara, who identified the component.
The original source of the photos is not entirely clear, but the Photobucket account that published them has known to make revelations in the past. Before Apple's new iPad was launched in March, the same account revealed that the next-generation iPad would be slightly thicker than the iPad 2.
There have been numerous reported leaks of Apple's upcoming iPhone 5, but some critics believe that this may be one of the most credible.
"In this case, it's the most comprehensive assembly of a leaked iPhone 5 to-date," writes Chris Davies of Slash Gear.
Davies continued to write that the placement of each component makes this photo particularly believable.
"The handset's LCD frame, front-facing FaceTime camera, and home button are all in place, showing the camera's new central position and the elongated display expected to increase the smartphone's screen resolution to better compete with sizeable Android and Windows Phone devices," he writes.
Although the iPhone 5 could be Apple's first smartphone to feature NFC connectivity, there are numerous devices on the market that offer this service. Competitors Samsung and Research in Motion comprise a decent chunk of this list with their Galaxy and BlackBerry devices. Manufacturers Nokia and LG are also on this list, according to Near Field Communications World.
Near Field Communication is another variation of short-range wireless technology which allows users to quickly exchange information between devices. When smartphones or tablets supporting NFC are touched together, they can swap data such as texts, images, URLs, and more by holding the gadget up to various "smart tags."
As usual, Apple has been keeping quiet about its plans for the next-generation iPhone 5, and NFC support is another one of the device's rumored features. The reveal of the Passbook feature that will be coming with iOS 6 is the closest thing to a public announcement that Apple has made regarding the feature. It is likely that the next iteration of Apple's mobile operating system will also come with a digital wallet building on this Passbook system, and previously discovered Apple patents have revealed that NFC may be used for ticket sales and other data transfer purposes.
Although Apple has not official revealed the release date for its iPhone 5, the device is believed to launch next month on Sept. 21. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company will reportedly be unveiled the device at a keynote ceremony on Sept. 12 along with an iPad Mini, but this has yet to be confirmed.
This news was initially reported by iMore, and it seems as if service providers are preparing for the rumored launch. On Sunday, Tech Crunch reported that AT&T has scheduled a vacation blackout for employees from Sept. 21 through Sept. 30.
"We've received yet another bit of evidence confirming the next iPhone's September 21 launch," the report read, citing an unnamed source from AT&T. "Our source also mentioned that blue carrier employees are undergoing training for an 'iconic release.'"
This is nearly identical to Verizon's alleged plans, as it was recently reported that the cell phone service provider would schedule a vacation blackout during the same time, according to Tech Crunch.
Fans will have to wait until next month to see if the release date rumors are true. Other features that are speculated to come with the iPhone 5 include 4G LTE connectivity, a longer 4-inch display, tougher glass, a new dock connector, OLED display, in-cell touch panels, and more. Be sure to check out Apple Insider to see the reportedly leaked photos for yourself.