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Tuesday, March 22, 2011, 06:10 am PT (09:10 am ET)

Improved antenna, 4-inch screen, NFC e-wallet rumored for Apple's iPhone 5

A new report from a Far East newspaper reiterates rumors that Apple will sell a next-generation "iPhone 5" this summer with an improved antenna design, a larger 4-inch display, and integrated near-field communications chip for wireless e-wallet transactions.

China Times reported Tuesday (via Google Translate) that Apple's so-called iPhone 5 is now in its "trial production stage." It also said that the new device, which will allegedly have a "metal chassis" for an improved antenna design, will launch in the third quarter of 2011.

The new design would apparently be to address issues that arose with the iPhone 4, when it was discovered that covering the bottom left corner of the handset could cause some signal attenuation. The metal band on the perimeter of the iPhone 4 doubles as the device's antennas, saving space inside the handset.

The report also reiterated recurring rumors that the iPhone 5 will include an NFC chip for an e-wallet service, allowing handset owners to use their device to authorize credit card transactions. Rumors of NFC support have persisted for months, and on Monday The New York Times cited two anonymous sources in saying that Apple planned to add an NFC chip to a future iPhone, but could not confirm whether it would be the iPhone 5.

Tuesday's report also added support to rumors that Apple plans to expand the screen size of the iPhone to 4 inches with the fifth-generation device anticipated this year. Rumors have suggested that Apple could increase the display from its current size of 3.5 inches without increasing the physical size of the device, utilizing an edge-to-edge screen.

Finally, the report also indicated that the next iPhone will, as expected, include Apple's new dual-core, custom built A5 processor. The A5, which offers twice the processing power and up to 9 times the graphical power of its A4 predecessor, debuted earlier this month inside the iPad 2.

China Times also noted that strong demand for Apple products, particularly the iPhone and iPad, has prompted Apple's manufacturing partner, Foxconn, to plan a new facility in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It was said that the new plant will be specifically to build Apple products, and production will start in 2013.