What is NFC in Smartphones? How Does it Work? How to Use It?

what is nfc in mobile

What is NFC in smartphones? In simple words - it is an upgraded version of RFID technology. And this fascinating tech was first introduced to the world by the legendary cellphone manufacturer brand NOKIA back in 2006.

Though this tech was not that popular in Nokia’s era, slowly but surely NFC is getting popular following the wind of technological advancement. Some solid sources state, back in 2015 the total NFC market size was about 4.6 billion US dollars. Now in 2021, the same market has been increased by 25.5 billion US dollars. And it is estimated that by 2024 this number will be increased by 47.3 billion US dollars!

These data indicate, how much craze this tech has created silently and could prove the usefulness of this fascinating tech.

What Does NFC Mean on My Phone?

Well, it is one of the frequently asked questions from smartphone users. The full form of NFC is Near Field Communication. So, by using this technology you can share data between two NFC-enabled devices at ultra-fast speed.

And as I mentioned a little regarding what is NFC in smartphones - it is an upgraded tech of the traditional RFID technology. But it has some useful features that can allow you to make your life a little bit easier.

But now the question occurs, when all the smartphones hold data-sharing features such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi direct, then why should we use NFC?

Well! The answer is, if you want to share data using these, you have to pair your device first with the secondary device. And this process is a little bit annoying especially when you are traveling, meeting, or somewhere else.

In the case of using NFC, you can connect two devices with just a single touch instead of manual pairing. And it will allow you to transfer big-sized data in a sec!

what is nfc in android

How NFC Works?

Let’s understand it easily. To explain the procedure, we have to have some basic discussion on the electromagnetic field. Don’t worry!  I’m not going into detail to explain what is NFC in smartphones and the working principle to make you bored. But I want to ensure that you can understand the whole thing.

Ok, let’s talk about the basic arrangement that is compulsory to enjoy the NFC service. We need two things to ensure.

  • Have to collect two NFC enabled phone
  • The phones should be touched for starting the data transferring process

So, what actually happens when these two devices come in touch. To simply understand the whole process, let’s name these phones. Let’s say the first phone with the name Primary Device. And we can call the other one with the name Secondary Device.

Wait! Let’s Talk About a Theory of Physics

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to take a physics class here! It’s just a simple theory that is necessary to put in the discussion. It’s a single line theory -

When the electricity passes through an electrical conductor, it creates an electromagnetic field around the conductor.

By implementing this theory, we can make an entire electromagnet that will have two separate poles named  N and S. In that case, we need to turn the conductor into a spiral form. After that, if we pass electricity through the wire, the solid electromagnet will be created.

It will be like as shown in the picture below.

what is nfc in smartphones - electromagnet
Here one thing is noticeable, we have passed the current through a spiral-formed conductor. But what will happen when you pass through a flat-shaped coil conductor? Well, this will create an electromagnet field as well, but in a slightly different way.

And the interesting part is when you will take this coil to another similar coil that is not connected to electricity, the generated electromagnetic field from the first coil will induce the secondary coil and make similar kinds of the electric pulse.

I think now you have got an approximate idea regarding what is NFC in smartphones and how it works. 

Now, The Discussion of Primary and Secondary Device

I think now you can easily assume how NFC actually works. In all the NFC enabled devices the similar kinds of flat-shaped coils are used. When you turn on NFC on your Primary Device to send any data that you want to send, the coil of that phone gets activated. So it generates the electromagnetic field.

When you will take the phone near to the Secondary Device, it will induce the coil of the secondary device and generate the electric pulse. Using this principle, the phones can share data using NFC.

So, that is how NFC works!
One interesting thing. The wireless charging devices work using the same principle. But in that case, the coil is needed to be stronger than an NFC coil.

Some Valid Points

As you know what is NFC in smartphones, before using NFC, you need to keep a couple of things in your mind first. 

  • The range of NFC is only 4cm
  • The speed of NFC is about 106 kbps to 402 kbps

So, it’s not ideal for transferring large files using NFC. In that case, there are many file-sharing apps such as Shareit, Xender that you can use. Then what is the application of NFC? Well, let’s have a discussion on it as well.

Usage of NFC

Though the transferring speed is comparatively low, the application of this tech is not limited. The following discussion regarding this will blow your mind for sure!

There are basically three types of usage of NFC

  • Data sharing
  • Using NFC tags
  • Mobile payments

Data Sharing Using NFC

There are main 6 types of data that NFC tech can help to share. Before discussing the procedure of data sharing, let me mention these types. You already know what is NFC in smartphones. And you should know the power as well!


  • Sharing YouTube videos:

 This allows you to share the exact video page with the sender. It will not share the entire video like Bluetooth file transfer. Instead, it will open the receiver’s YouTube app and directly redirect to the video

  • Apps Sharing: 

This feature works exactly like the YouTube video-sharing feature. You can redirect your receiver to the exact Google Play Store page of your desired app 

  • Photo Sharing: 

NFC will allow you to share photos as well. You will just have to open your desired photo in the gallery app. Then you have to touch your phone to your receiver’s phone. The photo will instantly be delivered.

  • Beaming Content: 

This allows you to beam your desired content with your receiver instantly. And the receiver will get the beamed content on his screen at the same time.

  • Contact Info Sharing:

 NFC will allow you to share your contact details instantly with the receiver. Your name and phone number (the info you put) will be displayed on the receiver’s screen.

  • Web Content Sharing: 

You can share any specific web page with your receiver. After the sharing, your receiver will redirect to the exact page that you visited

What is NFC Tag? How to Use It?

You already know what is NFC in smartphones and their usage. But what is the NFC tag? In simple words, the NFC tag is a sticker! Don’t get confused, let me explain.

Suppose you have an active Wi-Fi network in your house. Your friends often come to your house and frequently ask for your Wi-Fi password. Or you have arranged a party at your house. You want everyone to use your Wi-Fi network. But don’t want to reveal your password. In that case, an NFC tag can help.

Your task is to configure your NFC tag with any NFC configuring app (NFC tools is one of the popular apps and available on the Google Play Store). After the configuration, you have to stick the NFC tag on a wall (or wherever you want to stick it) like a sticker after peeling off the paper as shown in the image below.

what is nfc in smartphones - nfc tag

Now your task is done. From now, when your friends will ask for your Wi-Fi passwords, you will ask them to touch their NFC-enabled devices with this tag. Boom! They will get connected with the Wi-Fi network instantly!

The Usage of NFC Tag

Not only for storing your Wi-Fi password, but NFC has also the ability to make your life easier by performing a lot more tasks for you! The extensive usage of this tech is expanding the market of NFC slowly but surely.

Let me show some of the practical applications of NFC tags- 

  • Making phone calls instantly: You can call any specific number without visiting your phone directory
  • Multimedia control: You can play/pause/next/previous any multimedia content while enjoying
  • Open any specific app: Allows you to instantly open YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, or any other apps
  • Text messaging: You can open the “write a new message, message inbox” etc options instantly
  • Open any specific URL: You can set any specific URL such as Google, YouTube, or any specific web content for opening instantly
  • Alarm: You can set your alarm or timer instantly
  • Turning on/off GPS: This feature is handy while you are driving
  • Mode switching: You can turn your phone from one mode to another mode instantly with just a single tap
  • IOT Command: If your home is IOT enabled, you can set any specific command to control the linked devices
  • Bluetooth and WiFi service: You can set commands for turning your Bluetooth or WiFi on or off

And to enjoy all the features, you just need to touch your NFC-enabled phone with your NFC tag. On the other hand, you can use different tags for different tasks as well.

How to Add NFC to Android Phone?

It’s a common question that many people ask, “Does my phone have NFC? If not, then how can I add it to my phone?”.
In the ending part of this discussion, I am talking about this only because many people want to make their phones NFC enabled, which don’t support NFC by default. So some words regarding this should be put here.
You should keep two point in your mind-

  • All the NFC enabled phone holds an NFC coil to transmit data
  • There is no way to enable NFC with a software update or using any third-party application

But I want to show you something interesting. Have a look at the picture given below.

what is nfc in smartphones - nfc coil

This is a photo of an external wireless charging coil that can receive power wirelessly. But it can perform as an NFC coil as well.

The process of attaching it to your phone is simple. You have to attach it to the back of your phone’s motherboard. Wherever you make it done perfectly, boom! From now your phone will support NFC

Wait! Before getting excited, read the following points

  • This trick is only functional on some specific models of Samsung only
  • The back panel of the phone should be removable
  • The three wireless charging connectors from the motherboard should be visible from the back as shown in the picture below

what is nfc in smartphones - wireless coil connector

Image Credits

  • Derek Owens (YouTube Channel)
  • Ur IndianConsumer (YouTube Channel)

Ending Note

If you have read the whole discussion, then I’m pretty sure that in the meantime you have understood what is NFC in smartphones? Why the NFC market is booming slowly, and what are the practical applications of NFC. And that’s why in contemporary smartphones the manufacturers are including NFC. Though still this feature is included in the fairly high-budget smartphones, hopefully, the users will get this feature in the mid/lower mid-range budget smartphones as well.