External NFC module: what is it and how to install
In our article you will learn what NFC is, why this technology is needed and how it works in mobile devices. This will help you figure out if you should buy a phone or smartwatch with technology NFC, or you can do without it.
Owners of mobile gadgets and smart watches are probably familiar with the abbreviation NFC. Most often it sounds next to the mention of contactless payment for purchases. The company Apple added a NFC chip to iPhones starting from iPhone 6, and to all smartwatch models Apple Watch. In the article, we will talk about what NFC is, the pros and cons of this technology, and its areas of application. After all, its possibilities are not limited to payments only.
What is NFC
The name of the wireless technology Near Field Communication literally translates as 'near field communication', and in the literature it is referred to as 'near-field communication'. Information is transmitted through the induction of a magnetic field. Therefore, the permissible distance between participants does not exceed 10 – 20 centimeters. The technology does not require the mandatory availability of power supplies for both devices participating in the pairing. For passive mode, it is enough that only one participant has a battery, and the second will receive operating power from him. The compactness of the chip makes it possible to install it on mobile gadgets: smart speakers, phones, smart watches.
Feature Benefits NFC
What is a module NFC? There are several wireless technologies for communicating information between devices. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi modules are already in almost every smartphone or TV. And NFC the technology has also taken its niche in the field of wireless information transmission due to a number of advantages over other methods.
The speed of establishing a connection is the main advantage that allows using the technology for contactless payments. Communication is established in a time not exceeding 0.1 seconds. For comparison, Bluetooth it takes 6 seconds to connect.
Convenience – no manual configuration, password entry or other steps are required to connect. The connection is established automatically when the gadgets are brought to each other at a distance sufficient for the technology.
Security – due to the short range, it is impossible to connect to the data exchange channel and intercept the transmitted information. This advantage is extremely important when using NFC for payment transactions.
Compatibility – NFC Compatible with most contactless technologies, making it compatible with multiple devices. For example, payment terminals of various types. Passive operation mode allows you to work with devices without power supplies – NFC -labels or simply with switched off phones.
Openness of the standard – no royalties are required to use the technology. The spread of the standard is not hindered by patent law, which allows the technology to be applied in any business. Thanks to this NFC – chips appeared in almost all payment terminals, and we have no problems with contactless payments.
Disadvantages of the function NFC
In addition to its advantages, the technology has its limitations. These disadvantages are rather related to the scope of the function and are not serious disadvantages.
Data transfer rate – the technology provides speeds up to 424 kbps. This is five times less than what is offered Bluetooth. You won't be able to watch the video online, but this speed is enough to transfer payment card details or copy several photos and video files.
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Small range – the connection range is up to 20 centimeters, but in fact it does not even reach ten. Devices have to be placed close to each other. The disadvantage is dubious, since the areas in which the technology is applied require close contact between the participants in the connection.
No connection request – the connection is established automatically and does not require a password. If your phone is lost or stolen, there is a small chance that attackers will use NFC to hack it and steal information.
What is it needed for
Even people far from mobile technologies have heard of contactless payments with phones or smart watches. However, the functions NFC are not limited to this only. Let's see what other areas of application the technology has.
Card emulation – compatibility with other contactless information transfer technologies allows you to replace passes, bank and discount cards with one device with a chip NFC. PayPass terminals in public transport, turnstiles in organizations or cash registers in stores 'understand' this communication format. After transferring information from a physical pass or credit card to a chip, you will replace a pile of cards with one smartphone or smart watch.
Data exchange – the technology supports peer-to-peer mode. This is a function of exchanging information between two devices. In this mode, the chip transmits settings and information about installed applications between two iPhones at the time of activation of a new phone. You can also transfer files between smartphones – photo, audio or video. For the same purposes, new digital cameras are equipped with chips NFC.
Reading tags – passive mode of operation is used to read information from special tags. This could be information about a product in a store, an interactive advertisement, or a short trailer on a movie poster. In Western stores NFC – tags are actively replacing barcodes and QR codes.
How the function works
The technology is based on magnetic induction. An active device creates a field, the chip modulates the signal, and the antennas transmit it to the associated gadget or tag. Reading works in the same way. On smartphones, antennas are installed under the back cover, so it is better to bring the phone to the reader with this side of the phone.
The function NFC is designed according to the 'ECMA-340' and 'ISO / IEC 18092' standards. They regulate the requirements for connection security, information transfer rates, and communication protocols between devices. The chips in the latest smartphones support new editions of the rules, so there shouldn't be any problems using the technology.
How to enable support NFC
If you have an IPhone 6 or later, then the chip NFC is installed in your phone. Unlike Android – devices in iPhone do not require special actions to activate the function. The chip is powered continuously and is in standby mode. If you bring your smartphone to an active or passive source, the function is automatically activated. Before using NFC for contactless payment, register your bank card in the Wallet app. To read and edit tags, you need to install a special application. For example, NFC Writer or similar. The exchange of settings between iPhones is implemented at the level iOS and does not require the installation of additional programs.
Absence NFC – can you get around
For older iPhones and phones from other manufacturers that do not have this chip, there are alternatives. Use a special SIM card, install an antenna with a chip or attach a passive NFC – tag.
A SIM card with a chip is purchased from mobile operators, but they are not often found in mobile stores. Besides, not every phone works with such a SIM card. So be sure to check the compatibility of your phone and SIM card with the microchip NFC before buying.
The second way to introduce technology into a smartphone is by using a smart tag. They are thin stickers that are attached to the back cover from the inside, so the smartphone will have to be disassembled.
And the last option is to install an antenna with a NFC -chip. The 'kit' is installed inside the phone and is attached to the battery and the installed SIM card. In this option, you will receive full support for the technology with all its capabilities.