You have recently purchased a new Android smartphone and, reading its technical datasheet, you have noticed the presence of NFC connectivity: a particularly useful wireless communication technology, which allows you to make a secure connection between two devices without using a PIN, password or other authentication systems and which also allows payments to be made.
You would like to understand the dynamics behind its operation and, above all, how to use it on your device. This is how things are, am I right? Then this is the guide for you! In fact, below I will explain to you in detail how to activate NFC on Android and how to take advantage of this particular type of wireless connectivity to quickly pair two devices together, to pay directly through the smartphone and to exchange files between two compatible devices.
So, without waiting any longer, make yourself comfortable and carefully read everything I have to explain to you on the subject: I’m sure that, at the end of reading this guide, you will be perfectly able to use NFC connectivity on your device. That said, there is nothing left for me to do but wish you a good read.
- What is NFC for
- How to activate NFC on Android
- Enable NFC on Wear
- How to use NFC on Android
- Connecting Bluetooth devices
- Contactless payments
- File transfer
- Other uses
What is NFC for
Have you decided to find out about the usefulness of NFC technology and to evaluate if this is compatible with your needs? In this case, let me give you some more information on the subject.
NFC is the abbreviation for Near Field Communication (a phrase that, in Italian, can be translated as “communication in proximity”) and defines a technology that allows the exchange of data between two devices placed at short distances, wirelessly and without requiring PIN or password to be entered for the association.
However, this does not represent a security problem: the information in fact transit in an encrypted manner and the receiver and the transmitter are activated practically at the same instant; moreover, an NFC-type communication requires that the devices involved are at a very short distance (in some cases, they must even be in physical contact), which adds an additional level of security.
As for practical uses, NFC has multiple uses: this type of connectivity can be used to make contactless payments, via smartphone or smartwatch, in enabled shops, to pair Bluetooth devices quickly or to exchange files. between two compatible smartphones (or tablets). Read more here.
The theme of this guide will be, precisely, to explain how to activate NFC on Android and how to take advantage of this technology in the scenarios I described to you a little while ago.
How to activate NFC on Android
If your Android device is compatible with NFC technology, activating this type of connectivity is really a breeze! To do this, open the device Settings, by tapping on the resident gear icon on the Home screen, or in the drawer, tap on the items Connected devices, Connection preferences and NFC and move the lever located at the top of the next screen from OFF to ON.
Depending on the Android version on your device, the menu items may be different: on Xiaomi devices, for example, you need to reach the Settings> Connection and sharing> NFC menu; on Huawei terminals the path to follow is Settings> Device connection> NFC, while on Samsung devices you have to go to the Connections> NFC menu.
If you do not find the NFC option in the device settings menu, it is very likely that this technology is not supported; to make sure, you can use the NFC Check by Tapkey app, available for free both on the Play Store and on the alternative markets dedicated to devices without Google services.
To get it, open the reference store of your device, use the integrated search function to locate the app and, when you have found it, press the Install button to download it.
Once the download is complete, start the app and wait for the NFC check result: if you see the message No NFC module was found on your device, your device does not have NFC connectivity and, therefore, you will not be able to use this technology.
If, on the other hand, you should see the message NFC is built into your device but not activated, it means that your device is compatible with NFC connectivity, but that it is “off”: to activate it, tap the Activate NFC button and use the Android system menu to enable the aforementioned connectivity. Finally, if you see the NFC is activated message, then the NFC chip is present on your device and properly activated.
Enable NFC on Wear
How do you say? Do you have a smartwatch with an NFC chip and equipped with the Wear operating system (formerly Wear OS )? In this case, you will be pleased to know that you can use this type of connectivity to pay in physical stores in contactless mode, using a compatible payment system.
To enable NFC on Wear, first, activate the watch screen, then swipe from top to bottom near the top of the screen and tap the icon depicting a gear, in order to access the system settings operating.
Now, scroll down the next screen until you find the Connectivity item, tap on it, select the NFC item and move the switch corresponding to the wording of the same name from OFF to ON. Now, tap on the Touch and pay option, choose the Google Pay item from the proposed options and configure the payment app on the smartphone paired with the watch, following the instructions in one of the following sections of this guide.
How to use NFC on Android
Currently, as regards devices animated by Android, NFC technology can be exploited in at least three situations: to pair Bluetooth devices, to pay with the smartphone or to transfer data. Below I am going to provide you with all the necessary information.
Connecting Bluetooth devices
If you have a pair of Bluetooth headphones, a Bluetooth speaker or any other wireless device compatible with NFC technology, you can easily pair it with an Android smartphone, simply by putting the two devices involved in physical contact (generally back-to-back).
First of all, set up the Android terminal to receive NFC / Bluetooth connections: call up the notification area of the device, swiping from the top of the screen downwards, swipe your finger down again in correspondence with the quick icons and make sure the NFC and Bluetooth icons are on. If not, press both of them to “illuminate” them.
If the appropriate “tiles” are not visible, tap the pencil symbol in the lower-left corner of the notification area (or press the Edit button, visible after the last row of quick icons), locate the NFC icon among those currently not visible, make a long tap on it and, keeping your finger pressed, drag it to the upper panel of the notification area, in the position most congenial for you. If necessary, repeat the same operation for the Bluetooth icon as well.
Once this is done, take the NFC device to pair with the smartphone and, after turning it on, set it in pairing mode: in most cases, simply press the power button for a few seconds, until the status LED starts flashing rapidly and/or you receive audible feedback.
Now, place the Bluetooth device in correspondence with the NFC chip of the Android phone, whose screen must be unlocked (usually you have to overlap the rear parts of the devices involved) and follow the instructions you receive on the screen, to finalize the association between the two devices: Generally, it all boils down to pressing the Yes and Pair buttons, which appear on the Android phone screen.
Another usage scenario related to Android devices equipped with NFC chips concerns contactless payments through payment apps (such as Google Pay or Bancomat Pay, just to name a couple) that provide this possibility.
In other words, it is possible to configure your credit card within the dedicated app, to make a contactless payment in a commercial establishment equipped with a POS compatible with the chosen circuit: in principle, it is sufficient to unlock the phone and bring it close to the terminal, to complete the transaction.
To understand better, let me illustrate how the NFC payment system available with the Google Pay service works: therefore, check that your payment card has been issued by a banking institution participating in the service ( here is the complete list) and that part of the Visa, Mastercard or American Express circuits, those currently supported by Google Pay. Also, make sure you remember the Google account password set up on your device, as you may need it.
Once the necessary checks have been completed, download the Google Pay app on your device: start the Play Store, search for the name of the app using the appropriate bar and, after finding it, tap on its name and then on the Install button, so as to transfer it on your device. When the installation is complete, open the application, tap the Start button and specify whether or not to allow the use of location services, by tapping the Allow button while using the app, or Reject.
Now, you are ready to configure your payment card: press the Add a card button visible on the Google Pay home screen (if you don’t see it, tap the Payments and + Payment method buttons ), indicate you want to add a Debit Card or credit card and enter your card details in the appropriate fields.
To be precise, you will need to specify the card number, the expiry date (inserting the month and the last two digits of the year, without spaces or separating symbols) and the CVC code printed on the back of the card; enter the necessary information, check that the name of the cardholder and that the address and billing information are correct (otherwise tap the pencil symbol, to change them) and tap the Save button, to add the payment card to Google Pay.
In a few moments, you should see a panel indicating that you can use the card for both in-store and online purchases. If you should see a message regarding the unavailability of payments in the store, you may have inserted an unsupported card, or the device you use may not be safe for payments via NFC (which is true, for example, following the unlocking of permissions root ).
Now, all you have to do is set Google Pay as the default payment system: to do this, open the Settings menu > Connected devices> Connection preferences> NFC, tap on the items Contactless payments and Default app for payments and choose the Google option Pay, among those proposed.
Please note that on some devices the path to follow may be slightly different: on Xiaomi smartphones, for example, you can choose to use Google Pay as the default payment app by going to the Settings menu > Connection and sharing> Touch & Pay> Default app for payments.
Once you have completed the Google Pay configuration, to make payments through shops that support the “Big G” payment system, you simply have to unlock the phone and bring it to the Google Pay enabled POS, even without opening the app: payment it will end automatically, within a couple of seconds and a notification message will be shown on the phone display indicating the transaction has taken place. For more information on Google Pay, you can take a look at the specific tutorial I dedicated to the topic.
Finally, I would like to point out that all contactless payment cards use NFC technology to interface with enabled terminals: for more information, take a look at this guide of mine.
Note: after configuring Google Pay on an Android smartphone, you can also use the same payment cards on any Wear smartwatches equipped with NFC paired with the phone. All that needs to be done in this case is to download the Google Pay app on the wearable device, open it, tap the Start button and, if necessary, set the screen lock.
On some Android, it is also possible to exploit the NFC system terminals to transfer files through the functionality Android Beam: this possibility, however, has been eliminated from Android Q and supplanted by more efficient sharing nearby, or Nearby Share, which it does not use NFC but a combination of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, similar to Apple’s AirDrop.
However, if your device has an Android version lower than 10 (you can check this by going to the Settings menu > About phone/device> Android version ), you can send and receive to and from a second NFC device, using the Android Beam app.
How? I’ll explain it to you right away. To start, make sure that NFC is active on both devices, then take the one that contains the file to send, open it and tap the share icon, usually visible at the bottom (and having the appearance of three connected dots or a box with an up arrow ).
Now, tap on the Android Beam icon, visible on the panel that appears immediately after, unlock the second device (the one to send the item to) and overlap the two devices, placing them back-to-back. Finally, answer affirmatively to the transfer request that you should see on the target phone and wait for the copy of the file, which will be stored in the Downloads folder, to be completed.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this section, file sharing via Android Beam is quite outdated; for this reason, I advise you to act using the aforementioned Nearby Sharing, which I told you about in my guide on how to transfer files to Android.
The NFC can also be used for other purposes, such as scanning the chip present in the CIE (Electronic Identity Card) to identify yourself during the process of requesting the SPID identification from home: if you want to know more, read my guide on how to get the SPID.