Top 11 reasons why you shouldn’t buy a phone without NFC
Posted by Seth PlanckSeptember 25th, 2011 at 7:33 PM Filed Under Latest News
Top 11 reasons why you shouldn’t buy a phone without NFC
NFC has reached a point where its inclusion in everyday life is a certainty within the next couple of years, and for consumers to benefit from NFC features they will need an NFC phone. Whether your penchant is for NFC payments or you like the Bluetooth pairing to speakers, near field communication is coming. Within the next year or so, we expect NFC keys to cards starting to become popular. Also expect NFC features built straight into our cars. Smartphone manufacturers are already starting to produce NFC phones and they are becoming more prevalent by the day, but there are still going to be non NFC-phones marketed to consumers. This post is about why you shouldn’t tie yourself into a contract on a phone that doesn’t come with the aforementioned capabilities.
Companies like Microsoft, Google, Intel, Nokia, Research in Motion, Huawei, Acer and Mozilla have said they intend to support NFC in products from now on. Service companies like Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, Rogers Communications and many more are building their businesses around the model of harnessing near field communications for their customers. However, the big “will they, won’t they?” question lays with the Apple iPhone 5. Many doubt that Apple will include a near field communication chip within its latest and greatest smartphone. We still think it is a 50 /50 split on the probability that the company will support NFC. However, if Apple doesn’t support near field communication, Apple fans will have been done a disservice by the company and there are plenty of Android handsets that are just as, if not more capable, than the iPhone.
We can expect to see NFC built into PCs, tablets, TVs, laptops and of course phones. There is also a whole group of new devices that are based around NFC expected to come to market.
Our smartphones are becoming more and more to us on a daily basis. They are by no means only used to communicate with each other. We use them for price comparison, for navigation and even for gaming. Year after year the humble smartphone becomes more powerful. Eventually we will probably use cloud services and simply have our smartphone as our main machine. A blurring between the offline and online worlds is set to explode and NFC will sit at the heart of this new revolution.
Eleven things you won’t be able to do if your next phone ships without NFC
- You won’t be able to conduct NFC payments with a mobile wallet.
- You won’t be able to collect and redeem contactless offers and coupons.
- You won’t be able to facilitate effortless check-ins for social media, which would include letting friends know when you get to the restaurant and at what table you are seated.
- You won’t be able to check in and out of hotels without ever visiting the reception desk.
- There will be no pairing of speakers, headsets, headphones and routers with a tap without NFC in your phone.
- You won’t be able to use NFC to share content across different devices. For example, watching a movie on your home TV then grabbing that same movie at the point you stopped watching it and pulling it over to a tablet and vice versa.
- You won’t be able to use your phone to initiate access control to your computer.
- Driving licenses and IDs are set to also be held on your smartphone and given at airports using NFC in your phone.
- Photo and video sharing is cumbersome and involves emailing or uploading. If you don’t have NFC you won’t be able to initiate a localized file transfer that in seconds transfers photographs from one device to another. The same principle applies to business cards and contacts.
- A phone without near field communication will not be able to interact with smartposters. The coming boom of NFC tagged print media is set to bleed into every aspect of life, adding a level of interactivity that has never been available before. That interactivity is expected to take physical objects in the real world that effortlessly convey information, send you to a relevant website, sign you up for offers or puts your name in the hat for a competition, or sign up for a membership within two seconds. We could go on, but you get the point.
- Without NFC you will have to watch friends order takeout off of an NFC menu while you still have to call your order through. At restaurants you will not be able to request the check without having to catch your servers eye, or request more bread or simply call your server to your table.
We could have made our list 100 items deep with things you won’t be able to do if your buy a non-NFC smartphone when your contract is up. Take a look at our infographic on the subject for a few more ideas, but know even that doesn’t even begin to communicate just how prevalent near field communications is set to be. However, if three out of the eleven capabilities interests you and if at least another one of them would make your life easier in some way, you will start to agree purchasing an non-NFC phone these days doesn’t make sense.
Your next phone with or without near field communication
Your next mobile phone contract will likely last for two years and if you are like most people, you will wait for that to end before you get a new phone rather than buying yourself out of the remainder. Within the next two years the list we have made above will be reality and many more uses will have been dreamed up and evolved. If you only pay around $100 a month for voice and data from your MNO you will be investing $2400 in your relationship with your phone. That doesn’t even account for the purchase price of the device. Do you really want to spend that without getting NFC?
Okay, if you are now convinced that you need NFC in your next phone, beware – not all near field communication smartphones are created equally. Currently Nokia’s phones will not support payments, BlackBerry NFC devices have trouble reading tags (this is a temporary problem that will be worked out in a software update) and other phones get NFC by a proxy add-on that uses an NFC SIM card. If you want the full capabilities you should get a phone that has a secure element built straight in. A Secure Element is a chip that sits within a device and stores sensitive data, like account details or digital keys and could even store your computer password. In fact, the secure element houses the applications that facilitate those features too. As we move forward a concern will surround the amount of memory available on that Secure Element, but for now we just worry about whether or not the hardware is on board.
To be fair there are USIM (SIMS), microSD cards and even NFC cases that can be added to phones to give NFC capabilities, but that’s just more out-of-pocket money you can add to the total cost of ownership of your smartphone. The benefit of a Secure Element is that it meets GlobalPlatform’s standards for security. That means that if anyone gets hold of your phone they will not be able to simply read the Secure Element chip. In fact, the chip is programmed to be tamper-proof and lock itself up if anyone attempts to gain access without permission. Even the owner of the phone only has rights to use that information or app and has no control or ability to install new apps without it going through a security provisioning service like a trusted service manager.
Here in the States, you are far more likely to find an NFC phone with a Secure Element on Sprint at this time because T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon will want you to use an NFC SIM card which is more limited in storage. They will want you to do that so you use their TSM and payments systems that is called Isis. We are not keen on Isis, but you make up your own mind of how comfortable you feel with the service. At this time, the Google Nexus S is the only NFC smartphone that uses a Secure Element and has kinks worked out in its software. The Nexus Prime is due to be released in just over a month along with a slew of other Ice Cream Sandwich phones that support NFC and some of them are very likely to have secure elements built straight in.
You only have to search through our posts to see just how many NFC phones are either confirmed, rumored or even in the market right now. Within the next year or so, we expect more and more smartphones that are released to come with the technology. Sony, for example, is releasing an NFC smartphone called the Nozomi in March of next year that looks as if it could give the iPhone a run for its money, but there will be plenty of others to hit by Thanksgiving.