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NFC is subject to interference from metallic objects and you generally can't place them directly on metal, but keep in mind that the iPhone isn't one solid block of metal. Also, there are some NFC chips that have an isolation layer that does allow them to be placed on metal, although I'm not sure whether or not this affects performance. Plus, if there can be access through the glass front of the device to tell if you face is pressed up against it or to decrease brightness because you are in a dark environment (and there is), I don't see any reason why there couldn't be an avenue for NFC signals as well. Reports in the press are contradictory as to the inclusion of NFC on the iPhone 5.
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