Trial production for the iPhone 5 has already started in China, according to speculation from The China Times published on Tuesday. According to the report, Apple's fifth-generation smartphone, expected to launch during the third quarter this year, will feature a metal chassis, more sensitive antennae design, dual-core A5 processor, 5-megapixel still camera, 4-inch, scratch-resistant touch screen and near-field communication (NFC) technology.
The China Times report reiterates many popular rumors about Apple's next generation iPhone. Despite ditching the current iPhone's glass backing in favor of a metal chassis, The iPhone 5 is expected to maintain many of the design sensibilities of its predecessor while evolving the device's underlying technology. At the center of the fifth-generation iPhone sits Apple's potent, dual-core A5 processor, likely to double the iPhone 5's performance. To address perceived issues with signal attenuation in the iPhone 4, the iPhone 5 includes a re-designed, more sensitive antenna. Apple also reportedly crammed a larger, 4-inch display into the iPhone 5 that stretches closer to the edges of the device's face without changing its overall shape or size.
The China Times report [translation] also claims Apple will include an NFC chip in each iPhone 5. NFC technology would allow users to associate financial data with their devices to enable a rapid, wireless payment solution that could one day replace plastic credit cards. Previous rumors have gone back and forth about Apple's plans to include NFC chips in the iPhone 5. If included, the chips are likely to be provided by Qualcomm, according to Boy Genius Report.
Each of Apple's first four iPhones launched in late June or early July, but The China Times expects Apple to push the launch of iPhone 5 until later in 2011. The speculated third quarter launch date would put more time between the iPhone 5's availability and last month's launch of the iPhone 4 for Verizon Wireless. With the iPad 2 expected to ship about 40 million units this year and Japan focused on recovering from a massive natural disaster, constraints on manufacturing capacity and component supply may also be contributing to the iPhone 5's later-than-usual launch schedule.
Hon Hai, Apple's biggest manufacturing partner in China, declined to comment for the report, but the company is expected to expand its operations globally to address the world's growing appetite for iPads and iPhones. Hon Hai expects to build a new facility near Sao Paulo, Brazil, specifically to address Apple's supply needs in the United States. Foxconn, a Hon Hai subsidiary, already operates two facilities in Jundiai City, Brazil, where it assembles products for Sony and Hewlett-Packard. Unfortunately, Hon Hai's new facility in Brazil won't start production for Apple until 2013, leaving plenty of room for speculation regarding a late, third-quarter launch of the iPhone 5.