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Does my iPhone have NFC? How to find out - A user guide

NFC stands for Near Field Communication and is used for a variety of things - from connecting headphones to paying for goods and services with your phone. But which iPhone models have NFC and which don't? Let's get to the bottom of it....

The first iPhone with NFC

Apple has been using NFC in its iPhones since 2014, and the first iPhone to feature NFC was the iPhone 6, which launched in 2014. Although both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have an NFC chip, it was only used for payments (Apple Pay) and nothing else.

How NFC has evolved in the iPhone

All iPhones since then, including the iPhone 7, iPhone 8, iPhone X, iPhone XS, and iPhone 11 series, as well as iPhone 12 models, all ship with NFC chips. But unlike the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Apple's newer phones can also use their NFC chips to read NFC tags thanks to the release of iOS 11.

What about the iPhone 7, iPhone 8 and iPhone X?

If you're using either the iPhone 7, iPhone 8, or iPhone X and want to read NFC tags, you'll need to download an app to do so - the iPhone 7, iPhone 8, and iPhone X do NOT offer native support for reading NFC tags.

The iPhone 7, iPhone 8, and iPhone X ship with NFC chips, but there is no native support for reading and encrypting NFC tags. For this, you need an application. Here's a selection you can use to fill the gap:

What's a good NFC app for iPhone?

Download on the Apple AppStore: NFC & RFID for iPhone

NFC and Apple's iPhone XS and XR models

Apple's iPhone XS and iPhone XR models were the first iPhone phones to natively read NFC chips. You don't need a special software update to do this - NFC just works on these phones.

With the release of iOS 13, as well as the iPhone XS models and the ultra-popular iPhone XR, Apple added even more NFC capabilities. All iPhones from the iPhone XS/iPhone XR on up use NFC for payments, can read NFC tags, and can also encode NFC tags.

However, to encode NFC tags with your iPhone XS/XR, you must be using iOS 13 or later, as this feature was a core update in this particular iteration of iOS.

What is NFC?

In many ways, NFC is similar to RFID (radio frequency identification) technology, which is used by shipping companies to track and monitor inventory. However, RFID, like Bluetooth, can be used remotely. NFC, on the other hand, must be used in close proximity - about 4 inches.

For this reason, NFC is positioned primarily as a consumer technology. There are a variety of uses, both for businesses and consumers, but the most useful applications are aimed directly at people like you and me.

"And why?" you may ask…

Because NFC enables the rapid dissemination of information between two discontinuous media, the NFC tag and your NFC-enabled phone, without requiring things like your email address or phone number. And that's good news for advertisers because it increases their potential conversion rates, which is the goal of conversion rate optimization.

What are NFC tags?

I've already mentioned NFC tags in the section above, but what are NFC tags actually? NFC tags want to replace barcodes, so to speak. That's the big idea. The way it works is pretty simple: NFC is a wireless radio technology, similar to WiFi and Bluetooth, except with NFC you have to be really close to communicate with the tag - depending on the tag around 10cm.

NFC tags can be found in many places, from bus stops to billboards. Technically, you could even have an NFC chip implanted in your body, although that's a little too close to a story from a dystopian novel.

There are also different types of NFC tags, but they are all programmable. So if you own a restaurant, for example, you could buy a whole bunch of NFC tags, tag them with your menu, and incorporate them into promotional materials in your area.

If your billboards have an NFC tag, potential customers can view your menu and read information about your business simply by tapping the NFC tag in the billboard with their phone.

Pretty cool, right? It is - although it's rarely used by small businesses. I don't understand why either, because NFC tags have the potential to generate hundreds, maybe even thousands of customer leads for small businesses. And it's not limited to restaurants either; any type of business can use NFC.

Size and cost of NFC tags

NFC tags are relatively cheap to buy; you can order them in bulk for as little as 20 cents each. However, prices vary depending on storage capacity and speed. You should keep that in mind if you're thinking about using NFC tags for your business or even just for your home.

The size of NFC tags depends on the storage capacity and the size of the antenna. Some NFC tags can be as small as an inch, while other NFC tags can be as large as a few inches - it all depends on the technology they contain.

Where can I get some NFC tags?

Click here to get some recommendations

Here is an example of how NFC tags can be used in marketing.

Samsung and Lexus have both used NFC to great effect in their marketing efforts. Lexus was the first car brand to run NFC-enabled ads in car magazines, and Samsung used NFC tags in its billboards and on billboards while promoting many of its new phones.

Since then, more and more companies have turned to NFC to drive sales. KFC used NFC tags in its marketing materials, as did BMW.

At KFC, NFC chips helped potential customers find the nearest KFC. BMW used NFC tags embedded in print ads to drive traffic to its mobile app, where it could collect potential customers and generate new sales.

Want another really cool example of using NFC in marketing? Adidas added NFC tags to some of its running shoes as part of its "tap and learn" marketing campaign.

Pretty nice, isn't it?

Expect to see NFC used more and more in marketing campaigns as the price of NFC tags drops from 20 cents to pennies over the next few years.