As headphone technology evolves along with mobile devices, one of the characteristics that consumers most highly prize is the ease of connectivity. Today, the best headphones come wire-free, with incredible sound quality and rapid connection speed. You may have heard the term NFC thrown around by techie types, and below, we’re going to discuss what are NFC headphones and why you might want to consider purchasing a pair.
If you’ve never owned a pair of headphones and are considering buying them for the first time, you might also want to check out our article explaining what headphones are and how they can be used. For damaged earbuds, you’ll want to read our article about fixing wireless earbuds.
The acronym NFC stands for “Near-Field Communication.” Its function is similar to Bluetooth, as it’s a form of wireless data transmission. In more recent years, it’s been used to pair devices, such as speakers or headphones.
An easy way to know if your headphones are NFC-compatible devices is to look to see if there is a small “N” icon somewhere on your headphones.
The purpose of an NFC-enabled device is to transfer data as quickly and safely as possible. The same technology is used in contactless payment and has recently been used by wireless headphone manufacturers as a method for pairing devices.
One of the advantages of NFC pairing is that it is super fast, but as you might pick up from the name, the two NFC electronic devices need to be very close to transfer data and make a connection. It’s estimated that an NFC connection works at a maximum of four inches. That’s a tiny range compared to wireless or Bluetooth headphones.
The technology works because there’s a tiny chip with an antenna connected to a thin copper coil. The antenna transmits a signal, while the chip stores the data, and the coil conducts the electronic signal for power. Then, two chips are put near one another for the data transfers, whether for radio communication, a credit card transaction, or a connection from a mobile device to a wireless headset.
For those more interested in the technical side of speaker technology, you can check out our article covering what are ohms in headphones.
The NFC wireless technology may seem like Bluetooth, but some fundamental differences might be the deciding factor in what type of wireless headphones you buy.
The advantage of NFC is its lightning-fast connection speed, and all you have to do is tap the headphones to the phone to create a wireless connection. However, because of its short-range, devices switch to a Bluetooth connection to access extended range once the pairing process is complete.
Not all wireless headphones and mobile phones come with NFC technology. So if this is a technology you want, never purchase headphones assuming that they will be an NFC-compatible device.
Which devices have NFC?
At this point, most smartphones will come with NFC accessibility. However, some brands, such as Apple, only allow mobile devices to use the technology for payment and not for wireless headphones.
What are some other uses for NFC?
Mobile payments, photo transfer between wireless devices, or electronic locks and keys are common uses of NFC technology.
What is RFID?
It stands for “Radio-Frequency Identification.” It is the original form of wireless data transfer and uses radio signals to communicate and track wireless data.
STAT: NFC transfers data at a speed of .005 megabytes per second. (source)