Gizmodo takes apart ‘the next iPhone’ — could it have NFC?

Gadget blog Gizmodo has got its hands on what appears to be an early version of the next iPhone, expected to be released later this year.

Gizmodo got hold of the device after it was left in a bar in Redwood City and a legal letter sent by Apple on Monday would appear to confirm that the iPhone which has fallen into Gizmodo’s hands is a genuine Apple device.

Now, apart from the main logic board which is “encased in metal all around”, Gizmodo has taken apart the phone to see what’s inside — and, from the pictures the blog has taken, there are no obvious signs that the device has built-in NFC.

That said, in June 2009 a patent application was published which showed that Apple has developed a method for building an NFC antenna into a touch screen. The ‘touch screen RFID tag reader’ patent application explains that:

The RFID antenna can be placed in the touch sensor panel, such that the touch sensor panel can now additionally function as an RFID transponder. No separate space-consuming RFID antenna is necessary.

Could an embedded secure element and NFC controller be contained within the main logic board, or any of the other components? Please do take a look at the photos on Gizmodo’s website and let us know in the comments if you spot any tell-tale signs that near field communication functionality could be hiding somewhere in this new device…