New news out of Asia all but confirms the notion that the iPhone 5 will indeed be an LTE smartphone. But will new news of NFC revitalizes the hope of iWallet?
It’s hard to write consistently about the iPhone 5 rumors these days, since many of the “breaking news” stories are non-starters. What am I going to write about? The dock connector? Again? How about some el cheap-o iPhone 5 cases?
I don’t think so.
Today, as I saw the reports out of Korea that Apple is in talks with Korean mobile carriers about implementing LTE on then next iPhone, I yawned. How is this big news? The New iPad is LTE, thus, by extension, so too will the iPhone 5. By rolling out LTE on the iPad 3, Apple negated any coolness factor for LTE being announced on the iPhone 5. We now expect it.
But for the sake of being thorough (not always a strong suit for us bloggers), here’s a quote from the Korea Times, who broke the story:
“SK Telecom and KT are in talks to offer long-term evolution (LTE) connectivity on Apple’s next handset, tentatively named the iPhone 5, officials from the companies said Wednesday. . . Officials from the nation’s biggest mobile carrier are currently in Apple headquarters in California to persuade Apple to support SK’s LTE frequency for its local customers. SK representatives didn’t respond to questions on the matter while Apple spokesman in Korea Steve Park declined to give any updates on the talks.”
Lucky for us, officials in Asia always seem more willing to spill the beans on details like this than here in the U.S.. But again, it should not come as much of a surprise that LTE will be one of the iPhone’s upgrades.
NFC, on the other hand, is another story. (Or is it?)
In some of the reporting on LTE today, mentioning of unfounded NFC payment tech for the iPhone 5 also popped up. The Examiner had this to say: “Experts are now confident that new antenna ports also indicate changes in the WLAN, LTE and NFC sector.” These “antenna ports” apparently come from those “stunning” logic board photos, which means that these “experts” have divined that NFC is a part of the iPhone 5 package. Even those those logic boards are totally bare.
Any logic in this rumor?
Northern Voices seconded the NFC motion, saying that the “NFC feature will make iPhone 5 one of the leading smartphones in market. The smartphone market is currently caught up with top handsets from Samsung, HTC and other Android product makers. Most of these machines, for example Samsung Galaxy SIII, have NFC as a title feature.” but do these late-breaking stories really shore up the belief that the iPhone 5 will really have NFC?
Prior to this mini wave of NFC chatter, the more reliable tech pundits have sort of oscillated between “yes” and “no” on the iPhone 5 NFC issue. On June 25th, ABC‘s Joanna Stern felt pretty confident that NFC was becoming a reality, noting that “data found in code for the next iPhone reveals that the phone will have NFC controllers. To back up its claim, the site points to patents for NFC that have been filed by Apple. It also quotes the chief technology officer of SITA, an air transportation organization, who is convinced NFC is coming to the next iPhone.”
The lovable Jonny Evans over at Computerworld did a more middling follow-up, providing both side of the debate, while Emily Price at Mashablewas palpably more pessimistic. So, what does all of this add up to? In the end, I think it adds up to the simple notion that no one has any idea about NFC one way or another. We know that Apple has the plans and technology — and the desire. What we don’t know is if Cupertino is ready to handle all of the collateral work that will/would make iWallet a success. Google and its design partners were clearly not willing to go the extra step in its own NFC implementations, and as a result, Android’s NFC is a token feature at best. But in an iPhone rumor season where little appears to be kept to the imagination, at least NFC remains a definite unknown as we head towards September.
By Michael Nace