What is NFC and what possible practical uses can it be made of? overview of NFC and examples of using NFC TAGs with Android that everyone can try

On practically any modern phone we find the modulo NFCone of the technologies with the greatest potential often exploited by the user unknowingly or deactivated for no reason (except after reading some improbable guide on energy saving).

NFC has actually changed the habits on our phone, centralizing technologies that were previously the preserve of only a few devices (such as, for example, the chip on credit cards). In fact, many use it for pay contactless with your phonebut it is not the only function that can be exploited with NFC.

If we have never heard of this technology in this guide we will show you what NFC is, how to use it and how it can be very useful in various unsuspected scenarios, so that we can pull it off even when we don’t have to pay the bill at the restaurant.

READ ALSO -> Are contactless payments really safe?

1) What is NFC

NFC sta per Near Field Communication and is a set of standards that allow smartphones and other devices to communicate via radio signals when in close proximity.

NFC is included on almost all Android smartphones, while it is ubiquitous on iPhones sold after 2015; data transfer takes place wirelessly and is secure, being encrypted and readable only by devices that come into close contact.

2) How to activate NFC

On Android the NFC function must be activated and, if necessary, we can also deactivate it (although we do not recommend it, since it consumes practically nothing of the battery); on iPhones the function is always active and does not need to be activated.

To activate this technology on Android, the simplest procedure is to open the hotkey screen (swipe down from the top edge of the phone or from the top right corner): here we will find, next to the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth buttons, also the key to turn on the NFC.

If we can’t find the NFC key on the quick keys screen, open the app Settingslet’s go to the Connection and sharing menu and activate the switch next to the item NFC; if there is no NFC key, the Android phone we do not own does not have NFC technology.

3) How to pay with NFC

NFC is essential to be able to pay contactless on enabled POS, without having to take out your credit card, prepaid card or debit card (Bancomat).

The contactless payment function is managed on Android by the app Google Wallet (called Google Pay in the past), already present on enabled phones but which we can also update or add from Google Play Store.

With this app we can transform any credit or debit card into a digital card, protected by fingerprint or secret unlock PIN; with it we can pay quickly in shops or malls with POS enabled.

Once the credit card has been added, we can pay with a simple touch by unlocking the phone and approaching the back to the POS, so as to authorize payment with the default card; if we have many cards we will first have to open the Google Wallet app, select the card we want to use and finally pay by bringing the back of the phone closer.

iPhone owners can use the app Apple Paywhich works identically to the Google app: we can add any credit card and, at the time of payment, just bring the back of the iPhone close to the POS to authorize the payment.

To learn more we can read our guides on how to add a card on google play and apple store e how to add debit card to phone.

4) Other uses of NFC on the phone

NFC can also be used for other purposes than simple payment (which is still the main and preferred function for many users).

NFC indeed has a wide variety of others possible usesamong which we find:

  • Quick pairing of Bluetooth headphones
  • Public transport tickets and boarding passes
  • Pass for restricted areas
  • NFC car keys
  • Fast money transfer
  • Electronic ticket validation

For example in Rome it is possible to pay the subway turnstiles simply by bringing the back of the phone (enabled for NFC payments) close to the turnstile, using the NFC sensor on the top of the barrier.

To learn more, we can read our guide on how to save train or plane tickets on your phone.

5) How to use an NFC tag

In addition to using NFC for contactless payments, we can use this technology with NFC Tag; they are nothing more than freely programmable chips that contain information or commands that can be read via a smartphone equipped with NFC.

These tags can be purchased directly on Amazon, for a few euros. The chip does not need power and can be used at any time, just bring it close to the phone to activate the required function.

By programming an NFC tag we can get quick functions for the phone: if you always put your smartphone on silent when you go to sleep, instead of doing it manually every night, you could put an NFC tag on your nightstand so, when you go to bed, place your smartphone on the tag and it will automatically be set on the silent.

You could also create an NFC tag that contains the Wi-Fi network’s SSID and password. When people come home, they can touch the NFC chip to connect to the internet, without having to enter password manually. An internet address, a contact card, a telephone number, a message, an address or whatever you want can be stored inside an NFC Tag.

The NFC tag can then be programmed with ease using an Android smartphone with the application NFC Tools.

With this app we can program the tags to perform certain actions on the smartphone or to launch specific apps by simply bringing the tag close to the back of the phone or placing the smartphone on top of the tag (for example on the work desk or on the mobile holder).

To create events and actions we can also use other apps like NFC Tasks.


NFC is the reference standard for contactless electronic payments and by now all manufacturers insert it in phones sold in Europe; we just have to pay attention to Chinese import phones (i.e. intended for use in China only), since NFC is not used in China but pay quickly with QR codes.

In addition to payments we can also use NFC tags to save tickets, boarding passes, subway tickets and to quickly pair new Bluetooth headsets. Another very useful function are the NFC tags, which can automatically activate options on the phone just by programming the NFC tag.

Always on the NFC theme, we invite you to read our guides on how use NFC TAGs come on how to change ringtone volume and vibration type automatically on android.

To learn more we can read on how to create, scan and read QR codes from pc and mobile.


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