A teardown of Apple's iPad Air 2 turned up a surprise: an NFC module.
According to iFixit, the NXP 65V10 NFC Controller is the same one that Apple uses for Apple Pay in its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The same chip also appears inside Apple's iPad mini 3, iFixit found in its teardown of the smaller tablet.
Apple Pay lets users check out at retail stores by tapping their phones against a payment terminal, but that feature isn't currently available to iPad users. While some reviews speculated that the new iPads simply lacked the necessary NFC chip, iFixit's teardown proves otherwise.
It's unclear why Apple hasn't enabled Apple Pay checkouts on the iPad, though it could be a bit awkward to brandish a tablet at the cash register.
Why this matters: Apple wouldn't throw in an NFC chip if it didn't plan to use it somehow. This could be a sign that Apple plans to open up NFC to more uses in the future, such as smart home controls or secure money transfers between iOS devices. Perhaps it could even allow iPad-based payment terminals to accept Apple Pay. Whatever the case, at least new iPad buyers will be future-proofed. (Correction: As commenters have pointed out, the new iPads do not have the necessary antenna to communicate with other devices, and the chip is likely used as the secure element for in-app Apple Pay transactions.)