Should Apple have included NFC in the iPhone 5? [Poll]

So Apple's big iPhone 5 event came and went with no mention made of NFC, or near-field communications. Competing devices like the Samsung Galaxy S3 and other Android phones, as well as the upcoming Nokia Lumia 920 and previous Windows Phones, have NFC, and use them (or will use them) for things like mobile transactions (like some credit cards do today), automatic check-ins and logins, beaming data between devices, and more.

Apple doesn't believe NFC is the solution to any current problem. They already handle in-store transactions with the Apple Store app, they'll be handling a wide-range of code-scannable cards with Passbook in iOS 6, and they have other technologies like low-power, fast pairing Bluetooth 4.0 that overlaps some of what NFC does anyway. So whether or not NFC hardware is actually in the iPhone 5, there's no NFC currently being used.

Apple wasn't first or fast to adopt 3G or GPS, they weren't first or fast to adopt LTE. Or third-party multitasking. Or copy and paste! It's possible Apple is waiting for NFC to get better established before they include it in an iPhone 5s or iPhone 6. It's also possible that, like BluRay, Apple considers NFC a bag of hurt and won't be going anywhere near it, ever.

So what do you think? Was Apple wrong not to include NFC in the iPhone 5? If so, is the lack of NFC in the iPhone 5 a major deal-breaker or just a minor annoyance? If you agree with Apple, do you think the iPhone 5 is just to early, or do you think Apple will never use it? Could you care less either way?

You know the drill! Vote up top and leave me a comment below saying why you voted the way you did!

Georgia

Senior Editor at iMore and a practicing therapist specializing in stress and anxiety. She speaks everywhere from conferences to corporations, hosts the ZEN & TECH podcast, and should be followed on Twitter @Georgia_Prime.

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There are 23 comments. Add yours.

Quarks_ says:

I don't think it's a major omission and would be a perculiar feature to make the difference between buying and not buying a mobile phone.

Vostok says:

It wasn't a deal killer for me but I would of still liked to have seen one in there. Even if it didn't do anything for now. With contract I'm out for 2 years of any phone swiping fun.

Gazoobee says:

NFC is inherently insecure and only the fact that it hasn't actually caught on yet has kept this obvious fact a secret from the mainstream media. If Apple were to have put it in the iPhone, it would have caught on like wildfire, people would have started using it and the first giant exploit where everyone loses their money would be directly blamed on Apple.

What you have to understand is that *everything* is Apple's fault. They were at fault when they were struggling, and now they are successful, instead of being everyone's darling, they are even *more* at fault for, well ... literally everything.

They will be lambasted by the media for *not* including NFC, but of course they would have been lambasted by the media for *including* it as well. If it catches on despite Apple not including it, I am reasonably certain that they will be at fault for whatever failings it has regardless of the fact that they didn't include it.

jeffgus says:

Plastic credit cards with NFC can be skimmed. The card just sits there waiting for a signal and it just responds. NFC on a phone is different. The phone won't even unlock the credit card information until I enter my PIN. I don't see how this is insecure. I see this as an enhancement to old fashioned credit cards.

NFC can be insecure, but NFC on phones seems like the way to go.

jlake02 says:

The tech hasn't taken off yet but I GUARANTEE you if Apple released some type of e-pay system (NFC, Bluetooth, whatever) the adoption rate would skyrocket. Vendors would be scrambling to get that tech in their stores while millions of iOS users walk in the door.

They have patents in place that signify their interest in such tech.

I, for one, was very disappointed. Passbook is a lame substitute. (Still pre-ordered the phone but was disappointed nonetheless.)

c_hack says:

NFC is looking like a dead end. It is much hyped as a checklist item for smartphones, but I have yet to see it used in the real world.

I for one am glad Apple focused on other, more important aspects of the phone.

jeffgus says:

Have you been in a 7-Eleven recently? Quite a few drive thru's also have them.

And there are other uses beyond credit cards. Tags that can configure the phone are useful. E.g. a tag on the table next to my bed to make sure the alarm is on, but the ringer is off. Or one in the card that launches GPS, etc, etc.

dloveprod says:

Leaving off a feature that all the other popular headsets have for next years iPhone is starting to get stale.

Joe McG says:

Doesn't really matter. I mean, there's nowhere to use it yet.

Compared to LTE, NFC is nothing to even think about.

jbrandonf says:

You can buy NFC tags for cheap and program them to specific functions. I can put one in my car to turn Bluetooth on and off, or one at my doorway to turn WiFi on... Or stick one on my business card for a client to easily enter into their phone...there's tons of uses.

GreatNeal says:

Well First of all NFC is virtually non-existent or almost non-existent in other parts of the world. Like in Singapore, I don't see it being anywhere near my local shopping malls.
I doubt China is that advanced yet either.
For Apple to launch something US specific even when the technology, NFC, is still developing. I.e Beta stage is not something Apple would do. It wouldn't raise their profit margins. Look at the poll results.
Look at how inconsistent it is with the Android system. People commenting they became a tool when it took forever to process.
Some argue that if Apple adopts it, everyone will start doing it. Okay. So you're implying that you're going to throw all the responsibility on Apple. Asking them, given one year of their time. Not only to perfect another iPhone. But to help perfect NFC so that other competitors could reap on the benefits. Since NFC is likely to become common, they would have to share their R&D efforts on trying to make NFC painless when Google should have been doing it. Since Google started this two years ago, why is it until now. It's still inconsistent?
In summary, Apple wouldn't adopt something that is in beta with only a small market for it. Just look at LTE. They introduced it only now because almost everywhere in the developed world has LTE already. Last fall? Nahhhh only a minor part of the world.

jbrandonf says:

What on earth are you talking about? NFC is itself a pretty painless technology. It can send small bits of information quickly and could be used to pair Bluetooth headsets easily (do you know how hard it is to explain to a non techy how and why and when to pair bluetooth?) Or send pictures or loan books or set toggles for WiFi or countless other things. They could've spent their time on this instead of Passbook, which could've been an app they publish to the store.

Jerry Hildenbrand says:

Don't fall into trap of thinking NFC is only good for payments.
NFC tags in docks and car mounts can do wonderful things.

jrsharp70 says:

I wasn't sold on NFC at first... I even posted a poll topic saying how worthless I thought it was.

But then some users educated me, and I started thinking of all of the cool applications for it, and I think that I was wrong.

I'm not saying it is widespread enough thatthat people will miss out, but I'm convinced that in the very near future, we will use NFC to check into flights, keep tabs on teens and keep them from texting and driving, and yes... pay for things.

Much like an "app store", the tech is really only limited to the things we think to use it for.

mud314 says:

One word: Profit. Apple has yet to figure out how to capitalize on this technology and until they can profit from it, it is not important to them and by default not important to you. As others have already stated on this thread, NFC is much more than mobile payments. At this time there is simply no sure way for them to make another billion by employing this technology.

jeffgus says:

In the mean time, other companies can profit. Square is offering NFC-less payment. Paypal has been around awhile and is signing up more and more retails stores.

I also found a site that lists nearly 30 apps on iTunes that already support NFC via a dongle:
http://www.icarte.ca/apps.shtml

FlopTech says:

NFC, by itself, isn't a user-facing feature. It's an enabling technology for implementing a very useful feature: mobile contactless transactions. Apple must be considering two things with respect to mobile contactless transactions:

1. NFC simply doesn't have any traction in the US yet. If it does take off (and don't anyone hold your breath) then Apple could add an NFC loop antenna to the iPhone 5S/6/6S or 7. But right now, in the iPhone 5 timeframe, there is no need to pack in extra hardware or sell a dongle that almost nobody will use.

2. A software-only solution that can be used with existing point-of-sale hardware is vastly more flexible than a system that uses a single-task hardware component (the NFC loop antenna.) Existing barcode scanners are widespread, and they can scan printed barcodes and Passbook barcodes on iPhone screens equally well. And a quick and easy software update can add (or remove) features to all iOS 6+ devices running Passcode.

Apple isn't afraid to leapfrog technologies that don't suit its long-term goals. (DVD / Blu-Ray for example.) Apple probably views NFC as an inferior and cumbersome technology.

Noel Hibbard says:

NFC could be used for much more than spending money. You guys want innovation, creative uses of NFC could have been just that. I thought for sure we would have heard something about WiFi direct on Wednesday. That could have been used for some really cool stuff too. I suspect WiFi Direct will pop up in a software update though.

MadRoad says:

Here in Phoenix, we may be in a back water, but I have not run across any stores using it yet. I am thinking if it becomes popular it could be in the next iPhone. Real-estate is so valuable inside the iPhone, I do not see Apple using it on something that may or may not take off.

afazel says:

My reasons are practical and selfish. I no longer have an iPhone. I have a Galaxy Nexus. I do want NFC on iPhone, but because of Apple's marketing prowess, mind share, and their ability to seemingly easily convince everyone in the world to support their features.

Therefore, NFC would be in more places which would make the NFC features in my Android phone (and future Android phones) more useful.

shathis says:

What confuses me is the amount of navel-gazing and region-centrism that goes on especially on this site, but even on the podcast. If it doesn't exist in the US of A or Canada, it doesn't exist. Forgetting there is a NATION OF 120 million people, one of the most advanced countries in the world known as Japan (where I yes, live) where NFC has been in service for YEARS and has never once suffered a major hacking attack, hiccup.. ANYTHING. But I hear on this podcast or site "it's an untested technology?" Why, because people who didn't speak YOUR LANGUAGE used it? I am sickened honestly by how close-minded people are. Japan is not North Korea. Come here and get yourself a NFC card or phone with it built it (like every one EXCEPT THE IPHONE). I've been using it for years and dear GOD is it painful to have to use cash now, or even a credit card. I touch it to the scanner, and I'm done. Companies have an agreed-on standard and everyone uses it. This just DOES NOT MAKE sense to me when I hear comments by Rene and Seth, intelligent people who refuse to acknowledge the major world power in which THIS IS BEING USED BY NEARLY the ENTIRE population. And no, this isn't even a niche tech. This is literally more popular than credit cards... hell, it outpaces cash for most people. The tech issues are SOLVED. You think your magical American powers are going to create a problem they haven't already shaken out?
Sorry to be so vociferous but I'm so sick of the attitude of this site sometimes... it's like if it doesn't happen within North American borders it doesn't happen. Same reason Apple thought "driving directions are cool but let's alienate our second single biggest market where 37 million people a day who ride trains"

shathis says:

What confuses me is the amount of navel-gazing and region-centrism that goes on especially on this site, but even on the podcast. If it doesn't exist in the US of A or Canada, it doesn't exist. Forgetting there is a NATION OF 120 million people, one of the most advanced countries in the world known as Japan (where I yes, live) where NFC has been in service for YEARS and has never once suffered a major hacking attack, hiccup.. ANYTHING. But I hear on this podcast or site "it's an untested technology?" Why, because people who didn't speak YOUR LANGUAGE used it? I am sickened honestly by how close-minded people are. Japan is not North Korea. Come here and get yourself a NFC card or phone with it built in (like every one EXCEPT THE IPHONE). I've been using it for years and dear GOD is it painful to have to use cash now, or even a credit card. I touch it to the scanner, and I'm done. Companies have an agreed-on standard and everyone uses it. This just DOES NOT MAKE sense to me when I hear comments by Rene and Seth, intelligent people who refuse to acknowledge the major world power in which THIS IS BEING USED BY NEARLY the ENTIRE population. And no, this isn't even a niche tech. This is literally more popular than credit cards... hell, it outpaces cash for most people. The tech issues are SOLVED. You think your magical American powers are going to create a problem they haven't already shaken out?
Sorry to be so vociferous but I'm so sick of the attitude of this site sometimes... it's like if it doesn't happen within North American borders it doesn't happen. Same reason Apple thought "driving directions are cool but let's alienate our second single biggest market where 37 million people a day who ride trains"

We've had NFC here for years... YEARS. Sony invented the phone integrated technology, and gave it to everyone. They augmented it with built-in software apps before you had an app store. Japan lagged in design, sure, but this tech has been in use for years for millions of transactions a DAY. Every train rider in Tokyo uses it. Nobody buys tickets now, EVER. It has reduced wait times in almost every area of congestion to the time necessary to touch your card. All convenience stores, shopping malls, grocery stores, stations, buses, airports, hell... even jewelry stores use it now. IT's in more places than credit cards. It's NOT NEW OR MAGIC... it's an VERY MATURE TECHNOLOGY. It just didn't grow up in your back yard. But it doesn't need "special adaptations"... it's ready to go wherever it's deployed. Your mindset and companies who can't agree on a single thing are the reason it's not out.