Given the primarily metal backside of the new iPhone, it’s highly unlikely that NFC is in the cards for this generation. In fact, given the very little space at top and bottom dedicated to those glass RF windows, you can almost entirely rule it out.
NFC operates on the 13.56MHz ISM band, which has a relatively large wavelength, at 22.1 m. Making a traditional dipole antenna that radiates at all given the constraints of a smartphone package is thus a big challenge, considering that smartphones are maybe 5-inches tall at maximum, to say nothing of the supposed upcoming iPhone’s longest linear dimension….
The inclusion of Passbook in iOS 6 is the most often-cited piece of evidence for Apple including NFC, which seems a bit paradoxical since Apple hasn’t disclosed at all whether it would favor NFC or a Bluetooth LE (low-energy) or even QR code based payment token through that gateway.
Anandtech thinks the square chip is more likely to be the touch-and-display controller combo necessary to make the next iPhone’s in-cell touchscreen possible. That’s a lot of science that ultimately says while Apple may very well adopt NFC someday, they’re not going to be doing it this way this year. And Jim Dalrymple, who has connections within Apple, agrees: not going to happen this year.