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IPhone 5 said to be in ‘trial production,’ rumored to include NFC

iPhone 5 NFCA new report from China Times is the latest in a steady stream of rumors indicating that the iPhone 5 will include near-field communications (NFC) technology to support mobile “e-wallet” transactions. The report says that the next-generation Apple smartphone has entered the “trial production stage” en route to a summer 2011 release.

Earlier this week, The New York Times reported that Apple was working on developing NFC technology for a “coming” iPhone model, but didn’t indicate if that would be the iPhone 5. The new reports favoring the inclusion of NFC are in contrast with a report out of the U.K. suggesting Apple was dropping its plans for an NFC-ready iPhone 5.

China Times has reported that the phone will have a redesigned metal chassis meant to improve antennae function. The iPhone 4 was widely criticized for its poor antennae design, which was blamed for weakening signal strength when the phone was gripped in certain ways.

The iPhone 5 is also said to feature a new 4-inch scratch resistant touchscreen, adding weight to rumors that Apple would offer a larger screen on the new iPhone model. A 4-inch screen would offer a half-inch more over the 3.5-inch screen of the iPhone 4. It’s widely suspected that Apple will increase the screen size without increasing the overall size of the device by opting for an edge-to-edge touchscreen design. The report also said that the iPhone 5 will include the A5 dual-core processor, which made its debut in the newly-launched iPad 2.

The China Times has also indicated that Apple and its manufacturing partner Foxconn may be looking to establish a new facility in Sao Paulo Brazil. The new facility would be dedicated to producing Apple components and would be up and running sometime in 2013.