- iPhone expected to have NFC chip that could turn it into a credit card
- Successful launch could spark a revolution in how payments are made
- Will take on Google which already offers wallet feature is some of its Android phones
- Apple expected to unveil phone on September 12, followed by UK launch in early October
The iPhone has already replaced digital cameras, MP3 players and portable games consoles for most owners.
Now it could be about to replace your wallet.
The next iPhone, which is believed to launch in just two weeks time, is expected to come with a built-in chip which can serve as your credit or debit card for small payments.
Eagle-eyed fans looking at leaked images of the internals of the device have spotted what they believe is an NFC chip within the phone.
NFC is seen as the successor to the chip-and-pin, serving as a small contactless card which can be waved against scanners at tills to automate a payment.
Some debit cards already have this feature installed, and certain retailers such as Pret a Manger already use the technology.
Other phones have come with in-built NFC, with Google making a big play for the market with its ‘Wallet’ accounts in the United States.
But recent history shows that Apple needs to embrace a technology before it sees widespread adoption among the public, and it could take an ‘iWallet’ feature to spark a new payment system into life.
9to5Mac, which has credible sources within the notoriously-secret Apple, has found references to NFC code within iPhone prototypes, and they have spotted ‘NFC connectors’ within purported images of the phone’s hardware.
9to5 speculates that ‘Apple could tie in with a payment processor like Citibank’s PayPass system for credit card transactions – or it could become a payment processor of sorts with its hundreds of millions of credit cards already on file at iTunes.’
NFC has other useful benefits to users, such as instantly transferring documents or images between phones simply by tapping them together, as demonstrated by rival Samsung’s ‘Beam’ feature on the recent Galaxy 3.
With the launch expected within the next few weeks, other news includes flat-screen maker LG Display announcing production of screens expected to be for the new phone and images showing the notorious new ‘dock connector’, which is a slimmed-down version of the power and data port seen on previous generations of iPhones and iPads.
The company is rumoured to be equipping the next iPhone with a larger screen after Samsung Electronics unveiled its latest Galaxy smartphone with a 4.8-inch touch-screen.
Sources have said that the panels for the new iPhone will be 4in corner to corner – 30 per cent bigger than current iPhones.
The iPhone screens will also be thinner than previous versions with the use of so-called in-cell panels which embed touch sensors into the liquid crystal display, eliminating the touch-screen layer found in current iPhones.
It is believed the iPhone 5 will be announced on September 12, with pre-orders opening immediately. The phone itself is expected to launch just over a week later on September 21.
However, Apple fans in the UK may have to wait another two weeks until October 5 before getting their hands on a phone.
Apple are notoriously secretive and have not even revealed what they will call their next iPhone. It could be ‘iPhone 5’, or it may follow this year’s spring iPad launch and simply be called ‘the new iPhone’.
Leaks from the website iMore, which has strong sources ‘close to Apple’, earlier this month suggested the entire next generation of iDevices, including the iPod Nano, iPod Touch, iPad Mini and future versions of the iPad, will use the new port.
The site believes a special connector will be released to connect older accessories – such as docking stations and speakers – to newer versions of the range.
The ‘nano-SIM’ slot, containing the SIM card which connects a phone to the carrier network, has also been redesigned to be thinner, although this will be unlikely to cause much disruption to users as networks will provide replacements SIMs if necessary.