Apple may be grappling with Japan-related production issues for the iPad 2, but preparations seemingly continue apace for the launch of the iPhone 5 this summer. New reports from manufacturing partner Foxconn back up previous speculation about a metallic rear and larger screen for the new device, while NFC mobile-payment technology may be back on the menu too.
9 to 5 Mac quotes a "reliable" Foxconn source as saying that the iPhone 5 will soon go into mass production, and that it looks similar to the iPhone 4, but with a flat metal back casing, rather than the glass used for the last model. The source also claims that the iPhone 5's screen is larger than the iPhone 4's, although no actual figure is given to back this up.
It's not the first time a metal back and bigger screen have been predicted for the next iPhone. Earlier this month, Chinese sources were gossiping about the device having an aluminium rear, before allegedly leaked engineering drawings showed a screen that was nearly edge-to-edge, thanks to a noticeably smaller bezel.
One feature we thought would be missing from the iPhone 5 was near-field communication (NFC) technology. Rumoured in January, the theory of iPhone-powered mobile payments seemed to have been scotched last week when UK operators claimed to have been told by Apple that NFC wasn't on the cards for another year at least.
Now NFC may be back on the agenda, with Forbes journalist Elizabeth Woyke expressing surprise at the operators' views.
"From what I hear, it is possible the iPhone 5 will include NFC. An entrepreneur who is working on a top-secret NFC product told me today that he believes the iPhone 5 will have NFC and cited a friend who works at Apple as a reliable source for the information," she writes.
"To further bolster his statement, the entrepreneur said that manufacturers of NFC readers -- whom he has been talking to for his own product -- also expect the iPhone 5 to have NFC. These manufacturers are gearing up for the additional NFC traffic the iPhone 5 will bring, likely this summer."
Separately, the Cult of Mac website claims to have details of how NFC-equipped iPhone 5s will let users log in to other Macs, and access their desktop apps. Which if we're honest, sounds like more of a niche usage than, say, paying for your coffee in Starbucks.