The next-generation iPhone could potentially have NFC support built in, according to 9to5Mac. The claim is based on data allegedly pulled from PreEVT iPhone prototypes, codenamed N41AP and N42AP. The same code is previously said to have hinted at a bigger display with 1136x640 resolution. Now, though, it's suggested that the new iPhone will have an NFC controller connected directly to the power management unit.
The iPhone has been rumored as getting NFC for some time, but talk largely died out before the iPhone 4S shipped without the technology. Apple may, however, simply have wanted to wait until it was better prepared. The 4S has often been seen as an interim update, essentially using the same design as the iPhone 4 but with a faster processor and a better camera.
NFC could allow for direct file transfers between iOS devices, but the main purpose of the technology is expected to be mobile payments. Apple may conceivably be working on larger plans related to Passbook, the new core app in iOS 6. While the tickets and passes demonstrated by Apple so far only use QR and barcodes, Apple could quietly be working on allowing the app to make payments by swiping an iPhone over a register. Apple would likely only reveal the feature around the same time as the new iPhone itself is announced.