How NFC works

You have to buy a brand new smartphone and, among other options, you have noticed a device with NFC connectivity . Intrigued, you immediately wondered what this technology is for and how it can help you when needed, but your skills in this regard do not allow you to give yourself an answer without informing yourself a little around. Well, I’m happy to announce that this is the best place to find all the information you need!

In fact, below I will explain how NFC works , the ways in which it can be exploited and how to use it on Android and iOS devices. Do not get upset, you do not need to be a technology guru to understand and use everything: just follow my tips and advice to succeed in your intent and to understand if the presence of NFC is fundamental on what your new one will be. purchase.

At this point, all you have to do is make yourself comfortable, take a few minutes of your free time and read what I have to tell you about this interesting topic: I’m sure that, by the end of this reading, you will have perfectly mastered the notions of basis regarding NFC technology and you will be able to put them into practice to the fullest. Having said that, I just have to wish you good reading and have fun!


  • What is NFC
  • What is NFC for
    • Connecting audio devices
    • Data transfer
    • Authentication
    • NFC tag
  • How is NFC used
  • How NFC works on Android
    • Xiaomi
    • Samsung
    • HUAWEI
  • How NFC works on iPhone

What is NFC

Before going into details on how to use it, you are probably wondering what NFC is . Question and more legitimate, so it is good that you know perfectly the origin of the name and the first concepts on its basic functioning. First of all, NFC is the abbreviation for Near Field Communication , which you can translate as “communication in proximity”, and is a technology capable of connecting two devices, located a short distance from each other, wirelessly. .

Even if you have heard about it quite recently, NFC originates in the now distant 2004, when Philips, Sony and Nokia (later, LG and Samsung would also join the project) started the NFC Forum project. To be precise, NFC is the “son” of the much older RFID technology(radio frequency identification), which allows a device to send waves to a receiver for identification and possibly tracking. Although the dynamics within NFC are much more advanced, the purpose remains more or less the same: through NFC it is possible to identify two devices enabling them to transfer data, electronic payments and much more (I’ll tell you about it later in this in-depth study) by simply bringing them closer together.

Being a fairly slow communication standard, NFC is mainly used to transfer small amounts of data between two nearby devices: to be precise, two NFC devices can communicate with each other at a distance of no more than 10 cm , despite some implementations of this standard. require, for safety reasons, that the devices involved cannot be more distant than 3-4 from each other. The maximum connection speed that can be reached by such a type of connection is 424 kbit per second .

NFC-compatible devices (smartphones, tablets, some Bluetooth devices, etc.) have a built- in chip that can offer this type of connection. Furthermore, it is also possible to find on the market SIM and microSD with NFC chips, useful to prepare for this type of connection even devices that, natively, are not.

What is NFC for

Now that you understand what NFC is, it’s time to understand what NFC is for . Generally speaking, NFC is useful for exchanging data between two devices without using connecting cables, when these are within a short distance of each other.

Unlike other wireless communication methods (such as Bluetooth), thanks to all that NFC inherits from RFID, the identification , authentication and possibly the association between two devices equipped with this technology are completely automatic. and do not require PIN, password or other recognition methods to be paired: this is the reason why NFC is used, as you will soon discover, also for some types of online payments: the short distance, as well as the simultaneous activation of transmitter and receiver, guarantee that operations via NFC are completed exactly by whom and in the way in which it is intended to carry them out. In even simpler words, it is enough to “touch” two NFC devices so that they “recognize” each other and perform the required task.

I bet that, at this point, you are wondering if NFC is only an accessory chip and almost useless, or if it can find concrete use in some very specific scenario: I can tell you right away that, even if you may find it hard to imagine it, the fields of use of devices equipped with NFC are really many! Do not you believe it? Below I show you some NFC “tools” that could be very, very useful.

Connecting audio devices

Imagine that you have purchased a new pair of Bluetooth headsets for your smartphone: to pair them, in the absence of NFC, you must perform the complete procedure provided by your device: activate Bluetooth, search for available devices and finally, to complete the procedure , enter the PIN that the earphones suggest to your ear.

If, on the other hand, your smartphone and your headset are equipped with NFC technology, the procedure for connecting audio devices becomes much simpler: just activate NFC on your smartphone, bring the headset that is already on, answer affirmatively to the notification regarding activation. of Bluetooth, et voilà, the pairing between the two devices is completed, all in less than ten seconds!

You can also repeat the same procedure for headphones or any other Bluetooth audio device (speakers, mini-speakers, etc.) with NFC connectivity. Keep in mind that NFC only takes care of the pairing procedure, while the audio transmission is done via Bluetooth.

Data transfer

How many times have you wanted to transfer a photo from your smartphone (or tablet) to that of a friend without using cloud or instant messaging services? I know you are thinking about Bluetooth but, between recognition and pairing, the process is just too boring. In a very similar way to what we saw a little while ago, NFC can also help with data transfer from one device to another: just select the photo, the document, the contact or whatever you are interested in transmitting, set sharing via NFC and then touching the device on which you intend to transfer it: in this way, a Bluetooth connection is started “on the fly” and the data is transmitted automatically.

The good news, however, is another: this procedure can be used not only between two smartphones, two tablets or in general two portable devices, but is also widely used on devices that usually do not have such immediate “sharing” features, what could be digital cameras or printers . In other words, there are some cameras that allow you to move one or more photos through a combination of NFC and Bluetooth and, in the same way, you can start print jobs on some printers created specifically for the purpose.


As I have already told you several times, NFC is mainly a method for two devices to identify and recognize each other. This is why, in addition to using the “classic” smartphones, it is possible to find real authentication tools (Smart Cards, small USB dongles, etc.) equipped instead with NFC chips and can be used to confirm one’s identity and unlock functions of the device. Just to give you an example, there are some external hard drives equipped with NFC connectivity which, thanks to a Smart Card to be brought close, can unlock and make the stored encrypted data readable, without the need to enter any password.

Another scenario in which authentication via NFC is widely used is that of payments through the smartphone : using the NFC chip installed on the latter, it is possible to initiate money transfers directly from the pre-configured account, simply by touching the device. at POS. For example, payments via Google Pay and Apple Pay take advantage of NFC technology (more on that later).

NFC tag

In my opinion, using NFC tags on a compatible device can be really useful. To begin with, let me explain what it is: an NFC tag is a kind of “electronic tag” with a programmable NFC chip inside it (via a smartphone app or a PC program) to do something when an NFC smartphone or tablet reaches the minimum connection distance. An NFC tag can be used in different scenarios: here are some of them.

  • Commercial establishments– the owners of shops or entire shopping centers can place NFC tags in “strategic” points, so as to send links or information for promotional purposes on the smartphones of those who approach them. Clearly, the NFC functionality must also be active on the smartphone.
  • Museums and places of tourist interest– it is possible to place NFC tags that give the visitor information of interest, such as a short story about the work that is observed, the link to the map of the structure or other similar suggestions.
  • Business cards– it is possible to program an NFC tag to transmit your contact information: in this way, you just need to touch the tag to the smartphone of a potential customer (who must in turn be equipped with active NFC) to send a personal vCard .
  • Automatic operations– NFC tags can be programmed, if necessary, to perform automatic operations on your device. For example, you can place an NFC tag that sets the smartphone to Silent mode, on your workstation or on your bedside table, you can use one that activates or deactivates the Wi-Fi connectivity at the entrance of the house or, even, combine a tag NFC with an automation app such as Tasker or IFTTT .

On the market, you can find NFC tags of different shapes and colors, some stickers, others in the shape of a keychain. However, I advise you to pay attention to the space available on the tag: to store the simplest operations, as little as 100 bytes may be enough , while for other data, for example for a personal business card, it may also take more than 800 bytes . Below I propose a choice of NFC tags available on Amazon.


Timeskey NFC Tag NTAG215 NFC Sticker Tag Same NFC Chip Compatible with …

See offer on Amazon


Timeskey NFC 11 x NFC Tags Sticker NTAG216 | 888 Byte | Reprogrammable …

See offer on Amazon


How is NFC used

Now that you have learned the basics of NFC technology and have taken a look at the various cases in which you can use it, you are perfectly able to determine whether or not it is for you. How do you say? Your judgment is positive and you can’t wait to get a device equipped with this technology? Perfect, you couldn’t have given me better news!

Before you get your hands in your purse, let me give you some information on how to use NFC on both Android and iOS. Although both operating systems belong to the world of smartphones and tablets, there is a fundamental difference between them: while on Android it is possible to carry out practically all the operations I have listed above and to activate or deactivate the functionality, on iOS it is not possible to control manually NFC: it is always active and can be used for payments with Apple Pay and, for example, to detect NFC tags.

How NFC works on Android

You have an Android device and you are very curious to understand how NFC works on Android , especially as regards payments via NFC. Among the many possible uses of NFC, which I explained to you in the previous paragraphs, the one that is probably the most interesting to use on a smartphone is to be able to pay directly with the smartphone, thus avoiding the use of cash or cards.

In the case of Android, there may be several payment systems that can be used, set up and used according to your preferences.


If you have a Xiaomi smartphone you can use the Google Pay system to be able to make payments via NFC with your smartphone. Google Pay is the payment platform created by Google that can be used on any Android device equipped with Google services.

Well then, do not waste any more time and proceed to download the Google Pay app from the Play Store : to install it, search for it in the store of your device, press on its icon (or connect directly from the download link that I have provided you a moment ago, to do first) and press the Install button .

Before starting the configuration of Google Pay you must necessarily activate NFC : to do this, pull down the quick commands curtain from the right corner and activate the switch related to NFC, if it is disabled. Well, now open the app and tap the Set button that you find on the main screen. On the next screen, enter your card number, expiry date, CVC and billing address and tap the Save button once finished.

Well, now by going to the Payments tab at the bottom you will notice that your card has been saved successfully and you can use it whenever you want to make payments simply by placing your smartphone near the NFC reader of the POS. For more details on Google Pay , check out my tutorial on the subject.


Do you own a Samsung smartphone and would like to understand how to use NFC to be able to pay comfortably with your smartphone? In this case, you can turn to the aforementioned Google Pay or Samsung Pay , which works in a similar way.

To proceed with Samsung Pay it is necessary to have the dedicated app, which is often present by default on Samsung devices. If you do not find it, you can proceed with the download directly from the Play Store : to install it, search for it in the store of your device, press on its icon (or connect directly from the download link I have provided you with, to do first) and press on the Install button .

Before starting the configuration, activate the NFC by lowering the notification curtain and tapping the appropriate switch (it may already be active). Now open the Samsung Pay app and tap the Start button and choose whether to confirm payments by fingerprint (if present on your smartphone) or by PIN : then choose between Use fingerprint or Skip and use Samsung Pay PIN . After entering your fingerprint or PIN, you need to add a card that you will use to make payments, so tap the Add card button at the bottom.

On the next screen, enter your card details – you can use camera scan or enter the details manually . After inserting the card, tap the Accept all button related to the Terms of Service and wait for the card to be validated. Now you need to verify the card , to do this you can choose authentication via SMS or via the Banking App . After verifying the card, you can decide to add another one, by tapping on Add another card or on the Done button to complete the configuration.

To make a payment, open the Samsung Pay app , tap the Pay button placed in step, unlock via PIN or fingerprint reader and place your smartphone on the NFC reader of the POS to make the payment. It wasn’t difficult was it? For more details, check out my guide on how Samsung Pay works .

If you want to use Google Pay, just set it as default in the NFC Settings menu , under Contactless Payments .


How do you say? Do you have a HUAWEI smartphone and would like to understand how to use NFC to be able to make payments with your smartphone? In this case it is necessary to make a necessary clarification. if you have a HUAWEI device with support for Google services you can use the Google Pay payment system , as shown in the previous chapters.

If, on the other hand, you have a HUAWEI device with HMS you cannot use the Google payments service, as it does not have support for Google services. Unfortunately, HUAWEI has not yet introduced its payment system in Europe, so it is not possible to make payments with your smartphone if you are using a HUAWEI device with HMS. However, all the other functions available via NFC remain active, which I explained to you in the previous chapters.

To activate NFC on HUAWEI smartphone open the Settings app , easily recognizable by the icon of a gear, tap on the item Other connections and then on NFC . Now, to activate the NFC, set the activation lever next to the relevant item to ON .

How NFC works on iPhone

You own an Apple device and want to understand how NFC works on iPhone . As I mentioned earlier, the only way to take advantage of NFC on iPhone is through the Apple Pay payment system . In other words, you can use your iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch to make payments in NFC-enabled stores by simply touching your device to the POS. I invite you to consult my guide on how to use Apple Pay in Italy for more information on this.

Alternatively, I would like to point out that on all the most recent “iPhone by” models it is possible to create automatisms in the Commands app based on which, when the phone approaches an NFC tag, certain customized actions are started. You can have fun browsing all the possibilities offered by iOS by going to the Automation tab of the Commands app, pressing the + and Create a personal automation buttons and selecting NFC as the trigger action.

by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

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