Add NFC to an Existing Device

By Robert R. Sabella

The use of cloud strategies lets you add Near Field Communication (NFC) to an existing device, assuming that certain conditions exist. In some cases, a device will never support NFC, and you can’t do anything to change the situation. With this in mind, the following discussion helps you understand the requirements for adding NFC to an existing device so that you can obtain the benefits that NFC provides.

Ensuring the device supports NFC

You can’t add full NFC support to every smartphone out there. However, a few companies produce kits to add NFC support to specific smartphones, such as the iPhone and Android. One such company is DeviceFidelity.

It produced a microSD card and app that you can use to add NFC support to Symbian, Windows mobile 6.x, Blackberry, iPhone, or certain Androidmodels. Kili later purchased DeviceFidelity, which is now owned by Square. The reason you need to know this entire purchasing sequence is that the Internet hasn’t quite caught up yet, and you may find resources you need under any of the three company names.

However, you can add limited NFC support to any smartphone that can run the required apps. Remember that NFC is a combination of the apps you use and hardware. By adding an NFC sticker to your smartphone and downloading the right app, you can create a workable solution for specific needs. These ad hoc solutions usually hinge on coupling the NFC sticker with another technology, such as Bluetooth. If your smartphone lacks an alternative connectivity solution, you really are out of luck.

Getting the right NFC add-on type

You aren’t limited to just one way of adding NFC to your smartphone. In fact, you have several ways to do it:

  • External NFC Adapter
  • NFC Micro SD memory card
  • NFC sticker

The solution you use depends on how much you want to spend and the level of NFC support that you want. For example, the NFC sticker solution provides extremely limited support, but it also costs almost nothing to implement.

Using an External NFC adapter

The most popular way to add NFC support is to use a dongle (an externally attached device that extends the host device functionality). The advantage of this approach is that you don’t have to modify or even open the device to add the required support. Using products such as the MobileMate card reader lets you add NFC functionality using the audio jack of your device.

Using the Micro SD solution

The best solution in this category is Gemalto’s Optelio. However, DeviceFidelity CredenSE, Tyfone, and Netcom provide a number of different solutions for adding NFC support to your phone. The point is that you have numerous options to select from in this category, so ensuring that you get the add-on that works best for your smartphone, meets all your needs, and still keeps the cost low is important.

If you own an older iPhone, you may also want to look at the Gemalto Optelio iPay Cover. This solution won’t work with Apple Pay, but you can use it with other NFC apps. It relies on a special cover to get the job done. However, with Apple integrating NFC into its newer iPhone versions, these cases are becoming hard to find.

Using the NFC sticker solution

You can find instructions to provide extremely limited NFC support for just about any smartphone online. For example, this video shows how to add NFC support using a special tag. The video maker emphasizes the need to use a tag that will work against a metal surface. This sort of addition may work on your smartphone, but you need to be aware that you still need an NFC application to make it work, and the level of support you receive is extremely limited.