A new report from 9to5Mac claims that Apple’s new, sixth-generation iPhone handset, which we believe will be announced and released this fall, could launch with support for near field communication (NFC).

Already, we have a pretty good idea of what the new smartphone will look like – a speculation based on leaked iPhone parts, and design drawings. It would appear that the sixth-gen handset will feature a bigger screen than its predecessors, that it’ll be thinner and lighter than the iPhone 4S, and that the smartphone will also launch with a redesigned, smaller dock, a relocated earphone jack and new, grill speakers.

But one speculated iPhone 5 feature has been left out of the most recent round of iDevice rumors and reports, and that’s NFC. Last year, before the disappointment launch of the iPhone 4S, we were all hoping the fifth-gen iPhone would launch with support for near field communication. Though this didn’t happen, 9to5Mac now reports that Apple will include the technology in its sixth-gen iPhone handset:

Further investigation into this hardware code dump leads us to believe that these iPhones also have near field communication (NFC) controllers directly connected to the power management unit (PMU).

As the website rightly adds, “[t]he implications here are obviously monstrous.” NFC has the potential to add countless new features and capabilities to the iPhone, the most important of which is mobile payments.

Though current opinion has suggested that Apple’s Passbook app (which will launch with iOS 6) might be the perfect mobile wallet without including support for mobile payments, NFC would obviously allow Apple to add a mobile payments option to the built-in application. After all, Google has done the same with its Android-powered smartphones. 9to5Mac notes:

Apple could tie in with a payment processor like Citibank’s PayPass system for credit card transactions or it could become a payment processor of sorts with its hundreds of millions of credit cards already on file at iTunes.

Indeed, “hundreds of millions” is no hyperbole: Apple announced at its WWDC ’12 keynote that more than 400 million accounts were hooked-up to its digital stores, meaning the company already has a bunch of credit cards on file, as 9to5Mac notes. The website adds:

NFC would also allow iPhone users a quick and easy way to share files from one iOS device to another.

All the evidence seems to suggest that the sixth-gen iPhone will be NFC capable – besides 9to5Mac’s own impressive track record, the website’s original article also cites a number of reports from other sources, all of which point towards an NFC-powered sixth-gen iPhone.

Getting excited yet?

Source: 9to5Mac