NFC, or Near Field Communication, is a wireless radio technology that allows users to use NFC tags that trigger a feature on their smartphones when it gets close enough to a tag. This technology is also used in the Google Daydream platform to pair the controller with the phone and automatically launch the Daydream application when you place a compatible phone in the Daydream View headset. However, not all Android smartphones are equipped with NFC capabilities. So, if you are thinking whether your phone supports NFC, here’s how you can check it:
- Using a third-party application. NFC Check (free) is an app in the Play Store that does only one thing. As soon as you launch the application, it checks your phone for NFC capabilities and informs you if there is an NFC phone in your phone.
- In settings. If you do not want to install the application, just to check if your phone supports NFC or not, you can also do this via Settings. To check if your phone supports NFC, simply do the following:
- Go to settings.
- In the “Wireless Networks” section, click “More.”
- Here you will see the NFC option if your phone supports it. If this option is absent, your phone does not support NFC.
Actions when there is no module in the NFC phone.
What is the NFC module
Near Field Communication is a radio frequency identification (RFID) based technology standard that does not require an internal power source for operation and can transmit information over a wireless network over short distances. As a result, NFC opens up new opportunities for consumer goods.
NFC usually takes the form of a sticker. Although the appearance may not seem particularly impressive, their strength lies in simplicity. This means that they can be used where other technologies cannot. Each sticker consists of two components that work together to form a functional device. This is an antenna and a small system on a chip (SoC). During the interaction, the antenna perceives an external signal and activates the SoC. SoC includes a tiny CPU and memory for storing information. The amount of memory depends on the tag, but usually ranges from 48 bytes to 1 megabyte. Due to the relatively small amount of available memory, NFC tags are usually “encoded” into a URL or other text entry. The NFC Data Exchange Format (NDEF) standard defines how this text is formatted to ensure interoperability between NFC chips and their scanning devices. Specifications:
- reading range (max) - 10 cm;
- working power - 15 mA;
- data transfer rate (max) - 424 kbps;
- memory (ntag203) - 137 bytes;
- the frequency is 13.56 MHz.
Scan and Interactivity
From the user's point of view, NFC works like magic. For interaction, the user simply enters his phone into the NFC tag coverage area and immediately receives the corresponding content. It is a ubiquitous technology that works on almost all modern devices, from iPhone to Android.
The iPhone has supported NFC since 2014, since the release of the iPhone 6. Originally, NFC was made exclusively for Apple Pay. The NFC reading capabilities in the app were later introduced in 2017 in iOS 11. Users with an iPhone 7 and newer can read NFC using an application such as Decode. iPhone XS, XS Max and XR, released in 2018, have the ability to read NFC from the home screen without using a third-party application.
Android devices were the first on the NFC-enabled market in the early 2000s. Unlike the iPhone, Android devices do not require an app to use NFC. Instead, reading is available from any screen when the device is unlocked. Android devices support NFC in three modes:
- read / write;
- card emulation;
- peer-to-peer communication (P2P).
NFC card emulation is best illustrated by Android Pay, and P2P is the Android Beam file transfer service. In addition to the general implementation of Android in the NFC, Samsung introduced this technology in its 2012 campaign for the Galaxy S3 smartphone, launched in partnership with Blue Bite.
While iPhone and Android devices are the most popular phones, other gadgets, like Windows Phone and Blackberry, support this technology. In addition, NFC is not only available on mobile devices. Technology can be found in everything from door locks to inventory management systems.
Popularity and Growth
Since 2006, when the first NFC-enabled devices were released, the number of new gadgets supporting this technology has grown rapidly. NFC-equipped mobile phones grew 400% from 2013 to 2018, reaching a staggering 1.2 billion units. This represents a turning point in 64% of all smartphone shipments. According to HIS Technology, this number will increase to 2.2 billion units by 2020.
What can NFC
NFC has many impressive use cases due to its form factor and easy scanning. These use cases fall into several major categories.
NFC may be best known for mobile payments, where it supports services such as Apple Pay and Google Wallet. These solutions make shopping easy, with the option of payment and added security. Instead of using the same credit card number for each transaction, mobile payment solutions use the NFC card emulation capabilities to generate a one-time transaction key, which can only be used once and expires within a few seconds. This technology makes unauthorized payments for intruders almost impossible. Since NFC chips can be embedded in physical products, any element can become its own payment terminal. With one touch, customers can interact with the embedded product and pay for goods and services. Expanding the possibilities of objects for sale simplifies the process of making purchases and eliminates the need to stand in line to place an order.
Pairing and syncing gadgets
Pairing Bluetooth devices or connecting to a new Wi-Fi network can be very problematic, especially if you have forgotten your password. NFC tags eliminate these difficulties by connecting devices with one touch. Since NFC chips can securely store passwords and transmit pairing information, they are a great way to seamlessly connect your smartphone to a Wi-Fi network or Bluetooth speaker. This eliminates the need for users to search the device lists for connection and enter the password manually. This method is not only easier for users, but also more secure, because passwords are transferred securely without having to write them, where they are often used together. Apple Watch uses NFC to pair itself with simulators for more accurate training statistics. Supported devices allow the Health app to synchronize the heart rate, distance traveled, and the number of calories burned between the clock and the simulator. Apple calls this functionality GymKit and supports high-end sports equipment manufacturers.
Although NFC is an excellent technology for shopping, it probably provides more value after sales while using items. Since NFC tags are small, durable, lightweight, and inexpensive, they can be embedded in physical products that otherwise would not have a digital connection. Being built into NFC, these products can quickly jump to online content by connecting the physical and digital worlds. This functionality opens up new possibilities where all physical things can have an online identity. As the online presence function appears, their possibilities become almost endless. Marketers often take advantage of this, seeing NFC as an opportunity to provide consumers with relevant content and a way to connect directly with customers. Examples include the official Adidas ball, Staple Pigeon sneakers and others.
Security and Passwords
One of the most powerful uses of NFC is security. Just as NFC payments become more secure with a flexible code, the same technology can be used to validate users, products, and ensure content exclusivity. Let's face it - remembering passwords is difficult. Each password must be unique, and each site has its own requirements. Using a physical chip, NFC allows users to authenticate with systems such as websites, applications, physical doors, car locks, and even car ignition. Since these chips are discrete, they can turn almost everything into passwords.
Counterfeits arose as a real threat to customers looking for legitimate products, especially since counterfeits are increasingly being sold on such legitimate sites as Amazon, Facebook and Instagram. Although some brands try to prevent this with holograms, microflows, and QR codes, NFC provides the most reliable product authentication. After NFC is embedded in the original product, it is assigned a unique digital identification, which customers can verify (using an application, for example, decode) before purchasing. It also allows retailers and brands to easily find counterfeit products before they reach unsuspecting customers.
Including not only authentication, products embedded in NFC can also provide exclusive content to customers, using the flexible NFC code as a key that provides access to the content only to those who have the original product. This exclusivity allows you to include in the purchase of such things as e-tickets, mp3, video and more. The transformation of physical objects into a multi-channel interface opens up new opportunities for both brands and customers.
Types of modules
Today, anyone can add an NFC module to their smartphone, even if the gadget does not support technology. for this you need to use one of several options:
- NFC tag - a sticker with the size and shape of a doorphone key that has passive magnetic induction;
- SIM with NFC - it looks like a regular SIM card that performs the same functions plus NFC;
- Special antenna - a chip and antenna, which are fixed directly under the gadget cover.
Consider the features of each of them in more detail.
- Low price.
- Possibility of use in various designs.
- Ability to manage phone settings, paired devices.
- Passive NFC – function.
- Each setting function requires a separate label.
- Limited amount of memory.
With the help of sim cards with NFC support, you can make payments and send funds to other accounts. Benefits:
- just mount;
- replacement number (depending on the operator);
- re-registering a bank account or credit card;
- no additional identification when paying.
Smartphone-mounted NFC antennas allow you to exchange data with other users and systems, set up a gadget, and pay for purchases. Benefits:
- Additional fasteners.
- Full data exchange cycle.
- Active NFC function.
- Not suitable for smartphones that do not have the back cover removed, but there is only a card slot.
- High power consumption (via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth).
- Not all mobile operators can produce antennas.
How to add NFC chip to smartphone
If your phone does not have NFC, use one of the available options. To use an NFC tag:
- attach a sticker on your smartphone;
- download and install a special application (TagWriter, Trigger);
- Run the program and follow the instructions to configure the commands.
To use SIM with NFC, follow these steps:
- order a new card from your operator;
- Install a new SIM card in your smartphone;
- Download the NFC management application;
- Tie bank accounts or credit card.
Now your smartphone supports NFC. To use the antenna, follow these steps:
- Purchase an antenna from your mobile operator or on the website of the manufacturer of similar devices.
- Remove the back cover of the smartphone, remove the battery and the SIM card.
- Remove the protective cover from the antenna and connect it to the SIM card.
- Insert the SIM card with the antenna into the card slot.
- Connect the part of the antenna that is left outside to the battery and replace it.
- Close the cover of the smartphone and check the operation of the NFC.
NFC is a technology that provides new uses in various industries. As NFC awareness grows, it can change everything - from mobile payments to everyday goods.