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Monday, May 16, 2011, 09:50 am PT (12:50 pm ET)

Near-field communications chip not expected in Apple's next iPhone

Apple will not include an RFID near-field communications chip for e-wallet transactions in its anticipated fifth-generation iPhone, a new report claims.

Wall Street research firm Bernstein issued a note to investors on Monday in which it claimed the next iPhone won't include an NFC chip, according to Business Insider. That would run contrary to previous rumors that Apple was planning to include such a chip in its next iPhone.

Numerous reports from various sources had suggested that Apple planned to include NFC chips for e-wallet functionality in its next iPhone. Wireless short-range technology like RFID can allow for secure transmission of data, and could turn a user's smartphone into a credit card.

In March, The New York Times also reported that Apple was planning e-wallet functionality for a "coming" iPhone. However, the newspaper could not confirm whether the functionality would appear in Apple's fifth-generation iPhone.

Apple has shown a great deal of interest in RFID over the years, with numerous patent filings, job listings, and even public comments from mobile executives. Reports of iPhone prototypes with RFID functionality date back to 2009.

If true, Monday's report could mean that users would have to wait until at least the sixth-generation iPhone, likely to arrive in 2012, before such functionality would become available. That would jibe with other rumors that the next iPhone will not feature any significant changes to its hardware.

It would also support a claim out of the U.K. made in March that said RFID functionality had been scrapped. The Independent cited sources at mobile operators who said that Apple plans to include NFC technology in the sixth-generation iPhone in 2012.

Last week, a separate analyst report claimed that the biggest feature of Apple's fifth-generation handset, given the moniker "iPhone 4S," will be support for both Sprint and T-Mobile networks in the U.S. It is also expected to feature better cameras and the dual-core A5 processor found in the iPad 2.

Over the weekend, a separate part and case claimed to be for the fifth-generation iPhone suggested that the camera flash on the rear of the device will be placed farther from the lens. This would allow for better pictures when taken in low lighting.

Apple's next iPhone is widely expected to miss the traditional summer launch timeframe when previous devices have been introduced. Instead, it is believed that the next iPhone will arrive at some point in Apple's 2012 fiscal year, which begins in late September.