Feature Friday: Near-Field Communication Technology

Feature Friday: Near-Field Communication Technology
The near-field communication logo on the center console in the 2020 Mercedes-Benz E53 AMG. (Photo by Jill Ciminillo)

On some of the next-gen vehicles, you might see badging on the dash or center console that simply says “NFC,” which stands for near-field communication.

This is a fancy way of saying: short-range wireless connectivity. 

But what does it do? It depends on the vehicle. 

The most common use of NFC technology is to pair your smartphone easily to the vehicle. Just hold your phone up to the NFC tag, and magic happens. You’ll be able to stream your music and make phone calls via Bluetooth without going through the sometimes cumbersome pairing process. 

With the pairing usage, NFC is kind of a “ta-da” feature. You’ll probably only use it once and forget it exists — unless you have a passenger who wants to pair his phone to stream music or make calls. 

Another emerging use for NFC technology occurs in vehicles that use your phone as a key — like in the new Hyundai Sonata. Again, it’s all about the Bluetooth connection, and as you hold your phone over the door handle, the door will unlock. 

To start the car, the NFC connection usually occurs when you place your phone in the wireless charging slot.

That makes NFC an interesting feature with some serious potential.

The bad news: NFC is currently Android specific. So, iPhone users get the sad trombone here.

One thing to note: While some automakers, such as Hyundai, use NFC for their phone as key — meaning you have to touch the phone to the door handle to make it work — other automakers, such as Lincoln, use an app and a kind of Bluetooth bubble to make their phone as key work.



So, while iPhone users are currently excluded from using their phone as a key in Hyundais, they aren’t excluded from Lincolns.

If using phone as a key is a feature you’re interested in, make sure you do a little research first to see if it uses NFC and if it’s compatible with your phone.

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