You have a smartphone equipped with NFC technology and you believe that the time has come to use it for contactless payments … but, since your trusty device has suffered a few too many falls, you are not sure if the chip dedicated to short-distance communications is still able to perform its task. Therefore, before you even go to a business and risk a “bad impression” at the checkout, you are trying to figure out how to check if NFC works.
Well, if this is your current need, know that you are in the right place at the right time! In fact, below I will explain how to enable NFC on compatible devices and, above all, how to verify its correct functioning with the aid of an NFC tag of any type (i.e. a sticker or a card capable of providing data via NFC in “passive” mode, ie without any type of power supply) or a compatible NFC Bluetooth device.
Before continuing, keep in mind that, to ensure that the communication is successful, it is essential that there is a distance of less than 4 cm between the devices involved (even better if the contact is direct), that there are no obstacles in the medium and that the NFC / Bluetooth tag is placed in correspondence with the NFC reader on the device. The latter is generally found on the back of Android-powered smartphones/tablets and on the front of iPhones. Having made this due clarification, it is time to move on to the opera. Enjoy the reading!
- How to tell if NFC works: Android
- How to check if NFC works: iPhone
How to tell if NFC works: Android
The first thing to do to understand if the NFC chip works on Android is to activate the aforementioned connectivity. To do this, first check the data sheet of the device and verify that it is actually equipped with an NFC chip (you can do a simple search on Google to find all the specifications of the device).
Without this first preliminary check, open the Settings Android, by tapping on any lot ‘ gear resident in the Home screen or in the drawer, then went in sections connected devices> Connection Settings> NFC, and shifts from OFF to ON the switch in this top of the next panel.
The path to follow may however vary, depending on the version of Android installed on the smartphone or tablet: on Xiaomi smartphones, for example, you need to open the Settings> Connection and sharing> NFC menu; on Samsung smartphones, however, the path to follow is Connections> NFC, while on Huawei smartphones you need to go to Settings> Device connection> NFC.
If the aforementioned menu items are absent, it is unlikely that your device is enabled to use NFC technology; however, for further verification, open the Android drawer and use the search bar to locate the word NFC: by doing so, you will have the possibility to check the presence of the option to enable the aforementioned technology within all menus of Android.
Once NFC connectivity is activated on the device, verifying its operation is child’s play: if, for example, you have an NFC tag available, all you have to do is put it in contact with the device’s reader (usually located on the back of the device). itself) and wait for Android to notify you that it has acquired a new NFC tag and, at the same time, show you its content. If you don’t have an NFC tag, you can buy it for a few euros online.
Alternatively, you can take advantage of a third-party app called NFC Tools, available for free both on the Play Store and on alternative markets for devices not equipped with Google services. The application is free for reading (and writing) NFC tags, but some advanced features, such as saving tags and editing an existing tag, can be unlocked by purchasing the paid version (costs € 3.49).
To get NFC Tools, open the reference store of your device, use the search function to locate the app and, when you have found it, tap on the Install button, in order to download it immediately on the device.
After downloading the app, open it and make a few swipes to the left, to skip the welcome tutorial; if prompted, allow NFC Tools to access the NFC reader, responding affirmatively to the warning shown on the screen.
At this point, the game is practically done: to read the content of an NFC tag, all you have to do is bring it to the phone and wait for the app to recognize it and show you the content (it should take a few seconds). By tapping on any of the available fields, you will be offered options for using the stored information: for example, by tapping on the field containing a web address, you can immediately start browsing through the browser of your choice.
If you do not have an NFC tag, you can also check the operation of the appropriate chip using a second Bluetooth device, with support for quick pairing via NFC: in this case, all you have to do is set the Bluetooth device in mode for pairing, bring it to the smartphone/tablet of your interest and wait for the pairing request to appear, a sign that the NFC chip is working correctly.
Another method to verify the operation of NFC is to configure a payment method that supports contactless mode via the smartphone and use it in one of the authorized shops: in this regard, I refer you to reading my guides on how to pay with Google Pay and how to use Samsung Pay, in which I gave you precise instructions on what to do.
I recommend, at least for the first time, to always have your credit card or cash available: if the NFC chip does not work, you may find yourself unable to pay with your phone!
How to check if NFC works: iPhone
On the iPhone, however, things are slightly different: all phones equipped with Face ID and Touch ID, except for the iPhone 5s, support NFC connectivity, which is activated only when it is to be used and turns off automatically. : for this reason, at least at the time of writing this guide, there is no option called “NFC” in the iOS menus. However, the methods of use of the aforementioned technology may be different, depending on the terminal in use.
In detail, all the “iPhone by” allow you to use NFC as a payment system, while only iPhone 7 and later can read and write NFC tags. Furthermore, iPhone XS / XR and later support the reading of NFC tags in the background, thus being able to read data from an NFC tag simply by approaching the device, without the aid of third-party apps (necessary instead for iPhone X and models previous).
Finally, it should be emphasized that iPhone does not support direct transmission of files via NFC (an option that has also become obsolete for the Google operating system, due to the poor transfer speed) nor fast pairing with compatible devices.
Having clarified this aspect, if you have an NFC tag available and an iPhone that allows “direct” reading (XS, XR and later models), you just have to bring it closer to the tag and wait for iOS to show you its content. You can find NFC tags online for just a few euros.
If, on the other hand, you have an iPhone X or previous model, you must necessarily use a third-party app, able to read the content of the tag; in this regard, I would like to recommend NFC Tools, the same application I told you about in the chapter dedicated to Android. Also in this case, it is possible to read and write on NFC tags for free; to unlock advanced functions (saving tags, importing from QR code, editing an existing tag, and so on), it is necessary to purchase the Pro version of the app, which costs € 3.49.
To download NFC Tools, open the App Store, use the Search button to locate the app in it and, when you have found it, press the Get / Install button and authenticate using Face ID, Touch ID or password of the ID Apple, to finalize the installation.
When the download is complete, start NFC Tools, authorize access to the NFC system, if necessary, then tap the Read button and bring the NFC tag close to the phone (or vice versa), precisely to the front of the same: within a few moments, the content of the tag should be displayed on the screen.
If nothing happens, or if an error occurs in the reading phase, activate the app compatibility mode, suitable for slightly more “dated” terminals (such as the iPhone 8 Plus, for example, on which I personally verified this eventuality): to do this, tap on the gear symbol located in the upper left corner of the application and tap the Compatibility button.
Finally, return to the main screen of the app, tap the Read button and bring the iPhone and the NFC tag together: at this point, you shouldn’t have any problems with reading the data.
If you have an NFC-enabled Bluetooth device, you cannot pair it with the iPhone, but you can check the operation of the NFC chip installed on the latter by carrying out the same procedure as seen above: therefore set the Bluetooth device in pairing mode, start the app NFC Tools on your smartphone, tap the Read button and put the devices in contact with each other. With a bit of luck, NFC Tools should be able to identify the Bluetooth type “tag”.
If you do not have an NFC tag or a compatible Bluetooth headset available, or if your phone is not compatible with direct data reading (but only with contactless payment), then you just have to test the operation of the NFC chip on board. iPhone by configuring the Apple Pay payment system and using it at one of the authorized shops: I explained how to do it in my tutorial dedicated to the subject.
The recommendation is always the same: keep your credit card or cash with you, at least the first time you use Apple Pay. If the NFC chip does not work, you may not be able to pay the amount due!