Phil Schiller explains why there is no NFC or wireless charging on the iPhone 5

iPhone 5 specs

Prior to the iPhone 5 event we saw a lot of rumors floated about NFC (Near Field Communications) and whether or not Apple would include it in their new, flagship device. Now that the event is over, the iPhone 5 is here, and NFC isn't, many people are surprised by the ommission, and by the ommission of  wireless charging. In an interview with AllThingsD's Ina Fried, Apple Senior VP Phil Schiller laid out the reasons for the lack of NFC and wireless charging in the iPhone 5:

It’s not clear that NFC is the solution to any current problem, Schiller said. “Passbook does the kinds of things customers need today.

On the topic of wireless charging, similar ideals were stated:

Schiller noted that the wireless charging systems still have to be plugged into the wall, so it’s not clear how much convenience they add. The widely-adopted USB cord, meanwhile, can charge in wall outlets, computers and even on airplanes, he said. “Having to create another device you have to plug into the wall is actually, for most situations, more complicated,” Schiller said.

In speaking of the new dock connector, Schiler highlighted how thin the new iPhone 5 was and stated that design has been in use since iPods as far back as 2003, in order to meet the size demands of today and create products as thin as what Apple unveiled, a change and adoption of the new "Lightning" connector was needed

“This is the new connector for many years to come,” he said.


In other words, yes, you may have to pick up some accessories but those accessories will be able to be used over the next few years. Anyone think Apple's making a short-term mistake and NFC and wireless charging will be must-have competive features this year?

Source: All Things D

Chris Parsons

Editor-at-Large at Mobile Nations, gadget junkie, energy drinker, ranter.

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Phil Schiller explains why there is no NFC or wireless charging on the iPhone 5

56 Comments

That was my thought exactly. While I could care less for NFC (security issues) I'm really irked about their decision to not have a wireless charger. There are TONS of benefits, from simply being able to drop a device on the charger instead of fiddling for wires (ever get into a dark car or room before?) and the connectors ALWAYS wear out over time or break easily (especially when they're small). Wireless keeps them working well.

I'm so annoyed they left out wireless, I may actually go with the Nokia 920.

Funny, I develop exclusively on mobile devices (motorolla & honeywell) and the need for NFC is simply not there. I do own 2 iPhones and feel like NFC is at the stage where video chat use to be in 2000. Apple is right, there is not yet a need to drive that solution. Let the Skypes (chat) and Android (multitasking) and Google (Wave) of the world make solutions for premature needs. Apple will step up elegantly when its time.

Weird, cause I also work in the mobile community, and develop specific applications for mobile devices and commercial security systems. NFC is in use(60% of my workload now). Don't confuse one manufacturer's omission as a sign that the technology is 'not in demand'

I agree but it was two manufactures and but in fairness, don't assume the industry is ready based on your 60% workload. Sounds like your company found a nitch. iPhone is more consumer based (thus far) and don't care about scientific applications. I appreciate your comments.

Did you just say Multitasking on a phone is a premature need? What is going to change in the future that will mature the need to be able to move seamlessly from one application to another and multitask on your smartphone? Multitasking is not premature, its something that should have existed on all smartphones from day one. Apple gets multitasking SPOT ON on Mac OS, i cant wait for them to translate that onto our phones.

It was premature when the processors where not fast enough and RAM not large enough to handle multiple applications at the same time. Yes, you are correct when you say every smartphone should have had multitasking from day one, but that doesn't mean they could handle it efficiently and effectively. Now that the iPhone is as powerful as it is it should incorporate true multitasking to an extent. Not everything deserves to run in the background but most apps do and should be allowed to at the users discretion. The problem would still be that the phone will eventually slow down and screech to a halt once a certain amount of apps are open. IDK, the current model works for me I just wish there was some sort of card switching or something similar.

Yes, multitasking was premature in 2008, then 2009 rolled around.

Slow down isn't a major problem if the OS architects are worth their salt. It only takes a simple process limiter that will start suspending non critical background applications after a certain number is reached so as to never reach that "slow down and screeching" halt point.

I chose my Nexus first and foremost because I wanted a bigger screen than my Droid 2 Global, and replaceable batteries, as I have been getting for several phones now (I NEVER, EVER, EVER worry about trying to find an outlet to recharge... at the airport, in a restaurant, ANYWHERE). At the time, I had no idea about the multi-tasking feature (the Recent Apps button) on Ice Cream Sandwich, but it has turned out to be one of the most useful and convenient features I've ever encountered in a smartphone. I can be reading an article, or a forum thread, or playing a game, or listening to an audiobook, or going through email, and then, get a text message. I can easily switch over to the text messages, then, with that button, go RIGHT BACK to where I was. No matter what app. You can scroll through your recently-used apps, and even swish them away, if you're sure you don't want to use them anymore. It's easy, fast, and fantastic. :-)

Both of these are gimmicks at best. That's not to say that they won't be important features down the road, but the need for them currently just isn't there.

I don't know if you heard but pretty much every feature on any phone is a gimmick..... besides using it as a phone of course.

with the iPhone and Android, the "phone" is more or less the gimmick in order to get mini-computers into the pockets of millions of people

Android phones are just delivery devices for Google's ads. And yes, iPhones deliver Google ads too. Google makes more money from ads on iOS than they do from all of Android.

96% of Google's revenue comes from ads. That simple fact puts everything Google does in perspective.

With all due respect.... I have a Nexus, the first "pure Google" phone, and I don't see Google ads displayed on my phone any more than any other random ads (including Apple ads). I use Google to do searches, and I've been using the free turn-by-turn nav system, leaving my Garmin behind, but I spend more $$$ on AMAZON and AUDIBLE via my phone than any other app or program.

Android phones require/encourage use of google services which in turn makes their ads more effective. Make no mistake, there aren't any ads anywhere within the android system.

I completely agree with Phil about wireless charging, although it would be nice to get rid of the last wire that my phone needs. As fas as NFC goes, I have mixed feelings. I would really love it if my phone could replace everything in my wallet, although I hear that NFC has security issues. I think Phil is wrong that NFC doesn't solve anything. I've seen it solve all kinds of cool things in Japan ... getting on trains by touching a card, buying things at convenience stores, etc.

Maybe Apple has something else in mind to replace NFC (maybe something related to Authentec?)

It's great for Japan but in the U.S. there just isn't the infrastructure to support it. If everyday I came across NFC capable vending machines and turnstiles and said " I wish I had NFC on my phone" that would be one thing. Those things don't exist right now for the majority of Americans and Apple won't add them to the iPhone until there is an excellent use case.

Take LTE for example. Apple wasn't going to add it until A) it covered a majority of their users and B) they could make it power efficient enough to not drain the battery in 8 minutes. They did the same thing with the original iPhone. It wasn't 3G because, even though 3G existed in areas, it wasn't prevalent. They gave AT&T a year to build out 3G more widely and then they added it the next year. 3G didn't do any good to the large areas of the country that didn't have 3G service.

It's the same with NFC.Having NFC on a phone now is more of a frustration than a benefit. Apple won't add it just to add it. They will wait until it's ubiquitous here in the U.S. and then it will be in the iPhone 6 (or 7) (or 8.)

That may be true, but there is a chicken and egg problem. If the iPhone did support NFC, infrastructure would get built out much faster.

Besides, the comment about the US is valid for only the US market and the iPhone is global. Japan buys a lot of iPhones as does Europe.

My current thinking is that Apple is concerned about the security of NFC. I'm wondering if the next iPhone will include NFC as well as Authentec fingerprinting technology so that the NFC transaction can verify that the user of the phone is actually the owner.

Totally agree with you about the chicken and egg problem, here in the UK we do have a lot of NFC enabled transport infrastructure (tube,bus and even taxi's) so I would've loved it if there was NFC in the iPhone 5.

However I think the main reasons why there is no NFC are

1) Apple is still debating which horse to back. There must be an alternative that they are considering and therefore they are waiting to see how the technologies mature before putting their eggs in that basket. Could this involve Bluetooth or even a more proprietary solution...I don't quite know yet.

2) More importantly I think there is a political and strategic game being played here. If NFC is used, who 'owns' that customer when they transact? Is it the physical vendor (shop), the payment facilitator (VISA/Mastercard/Apple?), the telecoms companies (T-mobile/Vodafone/AT&T) or Apple (solely)???

Who can access that customers information, how much, when and how?

Apple would want to own the whole 'widget' based on the current business model so how do they incentivise the other parties that need to be involved, whilst also ensuring total security, privacy and ease of use?

In my very humble, and amateur, opinion I think that once these type of questions are figured out then we will see some form of NFC or similar technology in the iPhone.

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I think he is spot on. NFC may need to be in a future version but time will tell. Wireless charging is really only "partially" wireless.

Personally, I agree. NFC is just another great technology, with great potential, that won't see that great potential for years to come.

The analogy of NFC being in the same place video chat was in back in 2000, is damn accurate.

I actually really liked the wireless charging on the Palm Pre / Pixi... It was nice to have it next to your bedside or at the office and just set it on the 'touchstone' to charge.

While I understand his argument, I think its kinda weak. The way you overcome that is by allowing the OPTION of either wireless charging OR conventional USB charging. Palm did that; I left a touchstone by my bedside, then carried a traditional USB car charger or travel charger when I went somewhere. I do the same thing with my iPhone (one charger by bed, another for travel), I just have to plug it in. While that's not a necessity (i mean, how hard is it to plug in a phone?), wireless charging is a nice CONVENIENT feature that would have been nice to have.

Thanks. You said what's wanted to and explained why anyone might doubt the value of wireless charging (mistakenly thinking it would be one or the other, instead of both).

I could almost guarantee that wireless charging would make the iPhone 5 thicker. Given the choice, I know for a certainty which one Apple would pick.

I've only seen some Exxon stations with their quick pass that uses anything like NFC. I can't walk into a Target, Walmart or my Grocery store and use it yet. There are probably other and better uses for the space the NFC hardware would take up.

As for wireless charging? I don't want to have to carry around big pads to set them on.

same here. there is only one store in my area that has NFC/RFID based payment systems at the registers, but none of the local banks actually made debit cards that supported the methods that the stores system supported until this past summer. Until the actual technology is ubiquitous, Apple probably wont go for it. Look how long it took for the iPhone to get 5GHz N wireless.

Same can be said with USB 3. Until the iPhone and iPad's internal Flash memory is upgraded to support the higher speeds, USB 3 wont matter. As of right now the Flash memory is only capable of on average 30 Megabytes per second, which is not even fully saturating USB 2.

People want newer and better technology, but they dont stop to consider all of the bottle necks involved.

Wireless charging is a fun idea, but at the moment it involves a charging pad that you sit the device on. I dont know about you, but if i go on vacation, I would rather pack a cable that i can wrap up and stick in my pocket rather than a charging pad that takes up way more space in my bags. (same opinion as you)

And then wireless syncing. I love it when i am going to sleep at night because I know that it will just sync and backup. But when I NEED to get data onto my device quickly, there is nothing like a good cable connection.

Wireless Charge is gergous, but wether it's covenient in our daily life all the times depands! No entirely ensurance , I would like to wait for a while~

On wireless charging:
I had a Pre and my wife is still currently using a Pixi. We have a touchstone placed just inside the door to the house. It is very convenient to be able to take the phone out of its belt case or pocket and drop it on the touchstone. It can be done with one hand and pretty much without looking.
I am currently using an iPhone plugging the phone into a charging cable takes two hands and plugging it into a dock really takes looking at what you are doing to line up the connector and set it in place. Since the dock does not stick to the surface it is on like the touchstone does, it takes two hands to remove the iPhone from the dock.
Is wireless charging necessary, no but it sure is convenient and elegant.

True, and to that point, much of Apple's empire is built on products most people don't really need. Oh sure we want them and we use them, but few people really need them.

I can envision a home where nightstands, end tables, and countertops have inductive chargers built in and unseen. The technology is available and the cost would be reasonable, if standards can be agreed upon it could be the next big thing in mobile.

I was really looking forward to seeing three things from the iPh5:
- NFC, inductive charging (w/Lightening as backup), waterproof design;
for these I would have traded:
- faster processor, weight / thickness reductions.

Currently rocking a 64GB 4S and not sure where the case for an upgrade to a 5 is.

Yesterday I began exploring the pros/cons of my sister (currently on an iPh4) buying a refurb 4S and going off the subsidized upgrade program at Verizon (so as to not lose her unlimited data package.)

With 4S having ready good performance and essentially all the software features of the 5, I just don't see the reason to upgrade.

IMO, NFC is a solution looking for a problem. OTOH, a wireless charging option WOULD be convenient, just plop the device on the charging adapter rather than in the charging adapter (Palm's Touchstone, forex) and you can have it in any orientation you want including any angle between horizontal and virtical, not held in a specific facing. However, this would also require wireless syncing to eliminate the need to to plug into the computer at all.

Apple is supposed to be revolutionary. While NFC is not new technology, Apple adopting it could change everything. As soon as the iPhone picks up NFC, every retail company will immediately consider it worth the investment to roll out that technology in their stores.

There's no need for Phones to have NFC yet because there's no need for stores to have it.

Wireless charging though I think is more of a hassle than just doing it. I'm sure we wouldn't have the same great battery life, charging speed, or as slim of a device.

You're right, NFC is *not* new. Every 7-Eleven I've been to in the Los Angeles area has NFC terminals. Quite a few fast food drive-thru's have NFC (Jack in the Box). The light rail system now requires "TAP cards" which are NFC.

NFC really is in use out there. Up to now I haven't really used it because my debit card didn't have it. I have a normal CC that has it, but I don't use that card much. Now that I can load my debit card into Google Wallet, I've started to use it.

I not remotely interested in NFC whatsoever, so it's absence is of no consequence.

NFC is insecure anyhow. People with 'scanning' equipment purchased over the internet can readily 'steal' your information off your NFC enabled phone and credit cards, and I've seen this highlighted on BBC TV 'Rip Off Britain'.

As for wireless charging, not interested in that either. :)

That's the beauty of putting it on the phone. Unlike a card, NFC on a phone requires a PIN to unlock the card. The phone won't allow skimming, It is more secure than normal plastic cards and more secure than normal NFC cards. Problem solved!

About NFC : this feels like the whole Flash thing... Apple didn't have it and it died. It's crystal clear that NFC won't lift off now that Apple has decided not to implement it, the opposite would have been a signal to the industry that -in combination with Passbook, there is full complementarity- the time was ripe to roll it out. Guess Google, Samsung and Nokia will do their utter best to promote NFC from here onwards and unlike Flash I can't imagine it will die or be superseded by something else. That said, ATM was also the next best thing since sliced bread and was overthrown by Gigabit ethernet...

This is not anything like Flash. Flash was an older technology being replaced by a newer one. NFC is that newer technology in this case. And NFC has already "taken off" without Apple's support in other parts of the world and in areas right here in the US. It's a major ommission for millions of consumers whether you realize it or not.

Personally, I don't have much if any use for it here in the midwest. But make no mistake, there is a demand and that demand will grow with or without Apple.

With few exceptions Apple never releases a feature they don't really need to include to sell phones. They usually wait until there is a bigger demand for the feature and then add it to entice people to upgrade to the new phone. Then they will tell you they needed to "perfect" the technology and that they do it "best" and their way of doing it is "amazing and beautiful", but the real reason is this way they don't have to offer the latest and greatest technology next year because they will already have a compelling reason to upgrade in their back pocket that's trivial to add. It's a lot easier to make a fat profit when you're not bleeding edge.

Its just too bad Apple didn't implement a technology that every other new phone has. Rationalize all you want, its just unfortunate. I think everyone's arguement that it just isn't needed or very popular could have been applied to Siri. Is Siri really an important feature? Its cool and handy sometimes but not really needed. Maybe NFC is the same - cool and fun but not really needed. But Samsung has the big global marketshare now and they will drive the consumer needs. If Apple doesn't keep up, they will become increasingly irrelevant.

Why can't apple release NFC on a country by country basis and when America gets the infrastructure release it here wether it's 5s 6 or 7. And if they are going to release a wireless charging option I think they want to make and sell the devices for that service and make that innovative as well. When you drop the phone on this device it's connected to your computer and it brings up syncing options from iTunes just as if it was connected into lightning. Which would take time for apple to develop the hardware and software changes which steps might be made when they redo iTunes in October. As a possible future feature in the 5s.

i dont think omitting NFC at the moment was a huge mistake.. the iPhone 5s or 6 will include that im sure, at a time when NFC is actually more prevalent in our day to day lives anyways.. what i am so surprised with is the decision to go ahead and change the pins to this lightning port... apple products have been integrated everywhere! bose speakers, to stereo systems to wall units to cars to computers to eevverrythiiinggg.. okay fine we can buy an adapter but honestly my family alone is going to need like 10 adapters.. thats 300$.. and its not really the money because its not going to make or break us, but its just the fact that we are being forced to do that just because apple decided to up and change how their products interact with apple friendly products.. i dont like being gouged for my dollars.. thats the ONE thing im disappointed with

The lack of NFC is not a concern and for me their simply isn't the infrastructure or demand for it, yet. As for the wireless charging, that is simply a copout BS answer from Phil. Saying you still have to plug it in doesn't save you anything. Really wireless charging is beneficial especially if manufacturers standardize (as they are now) more devices would benefit. You will always need a cable for the car, on the go, airplane etc. But to claim its not beneficial is simply bull.

As an apple users NOT a fanboy...I'd say generally Apple has been a lot less quick to add new things that are useful to the consumer. And they aren't really bringing a ton of wow to the game.

charging and nfc aren't big deals to an average user like me honestly. But i'm still surprised with what i see as slacking by Apple. I expected the 4s to have a 4inch screen and a new design. i think they slacked in that. I expected the 5 to definitely have a 4 inch screen, lte, and a new design. well they got two of three but two i expected on the 4s so i thought it's still a bit stagnant. Some things sort of strike me as lazy. Like they launch a podcast app and it doesn't even hook into icloud and it's pretty devoid of custom settings like a great program like downcast. it's like they didn't try with that. makes me think when jobs died they all just said, ok now we can coast. I still like my phone but i'm not against using another phone either.

"It’s not clear that NFC is the solution to any current problem, Schiller said.

That is an incredibly myopic attitude; Apple built its' entire resurgence on solving problems customers were not aware they had with products they were not yet aware they wanted. It takes an impressive lack of vision to see no potential in direct, seamless communication between devices in close proximity.

As for the "NFC for iOS is useless if nothing else supports it" argument -- that is based on a misunderstanding of NFC. It is not just for payment terminals. It is for simple communication between any two devices in proximity. By enabling it just on iPhones and iPads, they could open up an entire range of useful applications just for iOS users.

Either Phil is showing a lack of vision, or he is being disingenuous about Apple's plans and capabilities in this area.

I gave my wife my iPhone4, and I picked up a Verizon Galaxy S3 for myself.
I use an NFC tag on my car dock to automatically turn on bluetooth when its mounted.
Its awesome, and that's just a touch of what it can do.

Its not a deal breaker but it should have been there, but dont worry they 5S will have NFC or the iPhone6 or 6S , no matter what , the iPhone5 is going to sell like gangbusters, no doubt.

I agree with Schiller.

It doesn't pass the Mom test. Would my (not tech savvy) mom understand NFC? Would she get wireless charging? The former, no. The latter, possibly, if explained thoroughly. Certainly, it would be nowhere on her horizon of expectations.

Personally, I'd like a 128GB device, but I'm an outlier, probably pretty much like all the folks reading this site!

If they said that inductive charging would cause the iPhone to be thicker, or that it results in energy loss and is inefficient, I could live with those explanations. Trying to sell it as an inconvenience for the customer to plug is pretty retarded since we could perform the initial setup once and never unplug the charging pad. Is it so difficult to admit that they face technical limitations? Its not like we don't understand that even the almighty Apple cannot defy the laws of physics.