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Mobile Tech

Liquidmetal, NFC Seen for iPhone 5S

Liquidmetal, NFC Seen for iPhone 5S
July 17, 2013 2:21PM

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Liquidmetal Technologies has worked on multiple metal alloys which Apple took interest in not too long ago, and then renewed their licensing agreement for two more years starting in 2012. Unless Apple had a use for the Liquidmetal technology in something like the iPhone it is unlikely that it would have spent money for the contract to be renewed.

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With the iPhone 5S just around the corner and a release date expected this fall, there are many rumors coming out regarding some of the features that we could see in the device. However, there are only a few that seem plausible based upon Apple's patents and overall market trends.

A leaked report from China has come out revealing that the iPhone 5S could have near-field communication (NFC) and is very likely to use Liquidmetal. Since NFC has become a staple feature in many smartphones it is definitely time for Apple to include it in the iPhone.

Riding the NFC Wave

At the same time that Apple was putting together the new iPhone 5 design, NFC was becoming widely popular and was included in many new Android and Windows phones. Since Apple chose to go with looks over features for the iPhone, they cased the device in aluminum even though metals make it impossible for NFC signals to leave the phone.

Since the market for NFC was not huge when the iPhone 5 was in development, Apple saw no reason to change their design to accommodate it. That has changed, and most high-end smartphones benefit from including NFC, especially as wireless-payment systems become less fragmented.

Current estimates suggest that 30 percent of all phones will have NFC within the next two years. Even though Apple does not like the thought of adding NFC, as Avi Greengart points out, "Perhaps Apple will extend 'Made for iPhone' in that way." Apple has always preferred to control an entire system rather than join in on one, but as its market share falls, so will its stubbornness.

Liquidmetal on the Way

In order for NFC to be included the casing material will have to be changed, and since Apple is not the type of company to go for a material such as plastic, it is likely that it will use its Liquidmetal licensing agreement.

Liquidmetal Technologies has worked on multiple metal alloys which Apple took interest in not too long ago, and then renewed their licensing agreement for two more years starting in 2012. Unless Apple had a use for the Liquidmetal technology it is unlikely that it would have spent money for the contract to be renewed.

The most recent agreement between Apple and Liquidmetal also provided Apple with the exclusive ability to use their materials in consumer electronics. Since Liquidmetal would keep the iPhone 5S light and would allow Apple to keep the stylish look of their devices, it seems like the perfect fit for the next iPhone.

Between the iPhone 5S being able to employ the most ideal casing material in the world and the introduction of iOS 7, Apple could begin to take back lost market share starting in just a few months.

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