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How to Read NFC Tags on iPhone

by Kaushal

NFC is not a new technology and has existed on both Android and iPhones for a couple of years now. You can pay for stuff, exchange data, authenticate devices, and share your contact among other things using NFC. NFC tags are super versatile little objects that can store information that can be read by any iPhone equipped with NFC. Let’s understand how you can read NFC tags on iPhone in more detail.

What Are NFC Tags

NFC tags are simple passive devices that store information that can be read by any NFC reader or even iPhone. The information can be your contact details, a website URL, your social media handles, your ID, etc. These tags come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from keychains to implants. Depending on your use-case, you can put them around the house, in the kitchen, in your car, or wherever you want to access it. Here’s a small list of things that you can do with NFC tags.

nfc tags in all sorts of colors

Which iPhones Can Read NFC Tags

NFC has existed on iPhones since iPhone 6 but you could only use it to make payments with Apple Pay. The ability to read NFC tags only came to the iPhone 7 and above (if the iPhone is updated to the latest iOS 14). So to check if your iPhone supports NFC, go through the list below:

iPhone with NFC only for Apple Pay

  • iPhone 6, 6s, and SE (gen 1)

Read NFC tags with iPhone Manually

  • iPhone 7, 8, and X

NFC Tags with iPhone Automatically

iPhone XR and Newer (including iPhone SE 2nd gen)

How to Read NFC Tags on iPhone?

If you have an iPhone XR or a newer model, you can read an NFC tag without actually activating NFC on your iPhone. On the other hand, older iPhones, mainly iPhone 7, 8, and X, require you to manually activate the NFC to scan a tag.

Read NFC Tag on iPhone XR and newer

To scan an NFC tag on the latest iPhones, you just bring your tag near the iPhone and tap the top left corner with the tag gently. The iPhone would instantly read the contents of the tag.

scanning NFC tag with iPhone XS

Read NFC Tag on iPhone 7, 8 and X

Unlike the newer iPhones, iPhone 7, 8, and X do not have the capability of scanning tags in the background. You need to manually enable the NFC scanner and then bring your iPhone near the tag to scan it.

To scan an NFC tag, swipe up from the bottom of the iPhone screen to bring up the Control Center. Find and tap the NFC reader button on the bottom as shown in the screenshot below. It will activate the NFC reader and you can tap the top left corner of your iPhone on the tag gently. The iPhone will scan the tag and display the stored information.

nfc scanning on iPhone 7 in Control Center

What Else Can You Do With NFC Tags on Your iPhone

There is plenty of cool stuff that you can do with NFC tags on your iPhone. The first thing you can try is customizing the rewriteable tags using an app on your iPhone. You can also use NFC to automate a set of tasks that would trigger whenever you read an NFC tag on iPhone. I use it all the time to create pre-defined timers in the kitchen while cooking.

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