By Ray Nicolini
A report on Tuesday from Chinese financial paper China Times suggests that Apple’s next-generation smartphone has entered trial production and is scheduled for a third-quarter launch. Apple released the iPhone 4 late in the second quarter of 2010, however some speculate Apple may push its iPhone 5 launch back to July or even later in an effort to place more space between its release and the launch of Verizon Wireless’ iPhone 4, which became available this past February. China Times’ report goes on to echo previous rumors that the iPhone 5 will feature a design much like Apple’s current iPhone 4 model, however it will include a few key points of differentiation. Among them are a larger 4-inch display that may stretch further to the edges of the device, thus allowing the overall size to remain unchanged, and a metal chassis in place of Apple’s current glass case. The report also claims that Apple’s iPhone 5 will feature an NFC chip, which could empower a close-proximity wireless payment solution that might some day replace credit cards. An earlier report on Monday suggestedQualcomm will supply Apple with NFC chips for the iPhone 5.