La NFC, acronym for Near Field Communication (Communication in Close Fields), is a new technology developed with the aim of facilitate different transfer formats and connections. Historically, we could see this technology as the replacing infrared, which allowed to do communicate two devices at a very short distance.

Today, the NFC therefore appears on smartphone, Android and Iphone, but still remains very unknown to the general public.

In this article we will explain to you how to activate and use it on your phone, but we will take the time to explain how this technology works, and what it can be used for.

We will also detail the issues in terms of data security, because it is a subject that comes up often when we talk about NFC technology.

NFC technology, how it works and what is it for on an Android smartphone

We will go into more detail to explain how does NFC work, and how you can use it to make your daily life easier.

How does an NFC connection on a phone work?

So how does it work ? NFC connection is a derivative of RFID connection, often found in stores on product labels. This makes it possible to beep products without passing the bar code precisely in front of the reader. Incidentally, this also allows the lock to be removed.

La NFC uses some of the same principles, also drawing inspiration from bluetooth connection. with the difference that there is no pairing required. This means that if two NFC devices are in contact, if the conditions are met, information is exchanged.

This therefore allows connect two devices very quickly, provided they are very close. It is necessary that glue the two devices within 5 cm. The transfer speed being limited (around 250kbps) it is a connection mode who will you be practice only in some contexts.

Before you explain how to activate NFC on Android, so let's see how you can take advantage of this technology.

What is NFC for on Android

On our Android smartphones, there are different reasons to use it:

  • Data exchange between compatible smartphones : So you can exchange data between two phones having the NFC technology. However, as explained above, the connection being very slow, it is not very practical to use this connection format. Instead, prefer a direct Wifi connection to exchange data between phones.
  • Tag reader : You use your android phone in player, to to get quickly informations. These are suitable for this connection mode, allowing you to quickly view information. For example, on certain food products, if a NFC compatible tag is present on the label, you can quickly display the detailed characteristics of this product.
  • Credit card emulator : As its name suggests, this allows create a credit card that would be stored in your phone, in order to carry out fast payments, and without get in touch. Exactly as if you placed your credit card on the payment terminal at the checkout. Since your smartphone is capable of recording your personal data, and NFC technology communicates them in an encrypted manner, you can thus use it to pay.

Now that you know all you can do with this technology on your phone, here is how to activate it.

How to activate NFC on your Android smartphone

This part is very simple. For activate NFC on your Android smartphone, you have to :

  • Open the settings from your phone
  • Taper NFC in the search bar at the top of your screen
  • Open the option " NFC« 
  • As shown in the photo below, just validate the NFC option
how to activate NCF on Android smartphone

To use it, it will suffice to place the back of the phone close to the reader or the NFC tag. You can notice just below the default application used. It will be appropriate to configure the tool that you want to use when you connect your phone to another device.

How do I know if I have NFC technology on my Android smartphone

Since this technology is relatively new, you may not have it on your phone. It is very easy to find out, say vous type NFC in the search bar of your phone, and you can't find anything, it is because it is not equipped. Unfortunately, you cannot manually add this technology to your smartphone. You will have to wait for you get a newer phone with NFC.

If you want to make extensive research, here is a Wikipedia link to update the list of compatible Android devices.

List of NFC compatible phones

Security and data protection issues with the NCF on your phone

So since we are talking here about means of payment, and accessibility to sensitive data, what does that mean in terms of safely ? Am i completely protected ?

  • First of all, you should know that this technology works ONLY within a few inches of contact. In other words, as long as someone does not have a terminal stuck to yours, you do not risk anything. contrast that with Wi-Fi for example, or someone could try to hack your information more than 30m away from you. So as long as you watch your living space and your phone, nothing can happen to you.
  • In addition, for Payments, this concerns contactless uprights. As with a blue card, you are fast capped. it therefore avoid having your bank account emptied in a few seconds.
  • There are magnetic protective shells, which BLOCK NFC connections. in other words, as long as your phone is in your pocket, the closed protection around, he is unable to connect. The only way is that someone will take the phone, and open your protective cover. A very effective tool, because hackers are generally not attackers, they work behind the scenes. The the most classic case of hacking is someone who approaches you very discreetly, for example sits next to you in the metro, and has an NFC tool in his own pocket, in contact with yours. With this shell, this is therefore impossible.

My personal data and NFC

Then NFC, risk free ? In terms of money protection, it's relatively safe. Unless lose your phone, if you are careful, as mentioned above, no risk. However, NFC technology does not stop there. Indeed, there is a other in security game:

  • Protecting consumption habits : Indeed, who says NFC connection, also implies access to personal data stored on your phone. Take the example of the product label in store: Thanks to data storage, it is possible to know your Consumption habits, depending on what you scan, and so exploit this for commercial purposes, without you being aware of it.

So even if the CNIL ( Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés ) works on bills to regulate and protect this use, you should still be aware of this and pay attention.

So here is all you need know about NFC technology, and how to activate it on Android smartphone. If you wish to go further in the connections on Android, here are some alternative articles who can help you: