iPhone 5 mystery component spied, could it be an NFC chip?

Leaked photos could show mobile payment tech for use in the next iPhone.

A new photo purporting to show the iPhone 5's internal gubbins has appeared, showing off a mysterious component that could be key to buying sandwiches using your smart phone.

The squarish component in the image, which surfaced on Chinese site Apple.pro and was spied by AppleInsider, is thought to be an NFC chip, which would let you make payments using your phone, or transfer data from one iPhone to another.

Previously leaked casings showed that certain components -- such as the iPhone's front-facing camera -- are likely to be shifted from their current left-of-centre location. This could be to make way for the mysterious new chip.

Commenter chatter suggests the curious component and the rectangular space behind it could be part of something else entirely, with one spectator suggesting that the new iPhone will play host to an AuthenTec 'smart sensor'. Apple recently acquired AuthenTec, which makes fingerprint scanners.

Fingerprint scanners may not sound particularly exotic, but if Apple were to stick a fingerprint reader onto its new phone, that could add an extra layer of security to phone-based wireless payments.

We can only speculate for now, but Apple is expected to unveil its new dog-and-bone on 12 September, so we may not have to wait much longer. What I do know is that if Apple becomes the dominant force in using gadgets to pay for stuff, it will add a new heap of cash to its already massive money pile.

NFC is already present in phones such as the Samsung Galaxy Nexus , but it's fair to say that using your phone to pay for things hasn't take off in a massive way -- even if we've successfully acquired a delicious lunch using a Galaxy S3.

Any mobile payment tech that Apple squeezes into future equipment will likely work with Passbook, a new ticket and voucher app that's coming with iOS 6 .

Would you pay for stuff using your phone? What do you think the component pictured above could be? Tell me in the comments or on our Facebook wall.

Image credit: AppleInsider

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About the author

Luke Westaway is a senior editor at CNET and writer/ presenter of Adventures in Tech, a thrilling gadget show produced in our London office. Luke's focus is on keeping you in the loop with a mix of video, features, expert opinion and analysis.

 

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