NFC and Bluetooth

6 Key Differences Between NFC and Bluetooth

6 Key Differences Between NFC and Bluetooth - Table of contents:

With every technology improving and enhancing by the hour, the access and sharing technology is going at the same pace. People prefer wireless sharing technology much more than the hassles with wires.

You can easily share files via NFC and Bluetooth rather than using cords or physical storage devices. This cuts down the need for investing in storage devices and also the cords. Both Bluetooth and NFC are used to connect two devices over a short distance. It allows for sharing of data, such as playing music through wireless earbuds.

Let’s go over the key differences between NFC and Bluetooth these seemingly similar technologies.

What Is Bluetooth?

Bluetooth is a wireless technology that enables data exchange between fixed and mobile devices over short distances. It utilises UHF radio waves in the ranges between 2.402 GHz and 2.480 GHz.

Bluetooth utilises a radio technology called frequency-hopping spread spectrum. It divides transmitted data into packets and transmits each packet on one of 79 designated Bluetooth channels. Each channel has a bandwidth of 1 MHz.

NFC and Bluetooth

What Is Near-Field Communication? (NFC)

NFC or Near Field Communication is also a wireless technology that enables short-range communication between compatible devices at a frequency of 13.56 MHz. NFC requires at a minimum one transmitting device and another to receive the signal.

NFC technology operates on an alternating magnetic field, meaning that no power is emitted in the form of radio waves. This prevents any interference from occurring between similar devices or any radio communications operating at the same frequency.

The NFC-enabled system includes an initiator (a reader) and a target (tag, card, sticker or a key fob). NFC tags contain data and tend to be read-only. These tags can securely hold personal data, with memory ranging between 96 and 8,192 bytes.
NFC and Bluetooth

Difference between NFC and Bluetooth

Operating Distance

NFC tends to operate on a shorter distance – less than 4 cm, whilst Bluetooth offers an operating range of up to 10m. However, this increased range can come at a cost. Bluetooth is more likely to have interference in transmission due to its longer range, whereas NFC’s shorter distance enables a stronger connection with no interference.

NFC and Bluetooth

Technology Setup

Bluetooth requires a manual setup to pair the devices. In most cases, you will need to enter a PIN code and configure some settings to pair the devices.

On the other hand, the NFC connection is quite easy to establish with no authentication needed. With NFC enabled devices, all you need to do is to turn the devices on and bring them within proximity of each other. The data transfer via NFC technology happens instantaneously and doesn’t require any additional hassle.

Power Usage

In most cases, NFC consumes less power than Bluetooth devices. It operates on a low-power radio transmitter/receiver and doesn’t affect the battery of the device much. As such, NFC can be kept ‘ON’ all the time without draining the battery too much.

The only instance where NFC would require more power than Bluetooth is when it’s powering a passive, unpowered source. The only exception is when the device utilises BLE technology, which tends to use less power than NFC powered devices.

Security

NFC tends to be more secure than Bluetooth, as it operates on a shorter range allowing for a more stable connection. Therefore, NFC tends to be a better solution for crowded and busy places, where a lot of different devices are trying to communicate with each other, creating signal interference.

On the other hand, even though Bluetooth has a PIN-based authentication, it still faces security issues and can be quite vulnerable to hacker attacks.

RFID Compatibility

NFC has a unique ability to work with passive RFID tags, therefore it’s more convenient to use with an existing RFID-enabled access control system. Bluetooth, on the other hand, is not compatible with RFID and hence less flexible than NFC.

Payments

NFC (near field connection) can be used for payments transfer. If you want to transfer payment to someone one nearby, NFC makes it quite handy to transfer data between two devices, and NFC enabled card payments are considered to be more secure than swiped transactions. Bluetooth payment apps were invented too but they all failed, it can only be used for transferring other data like images and videos.

Summary

So, whilst both NFC and Bluetooth technologies are similar in that they both involve wireless transfer methods, beyond that they have very different capabilities.

NFC is best used over short distances to securely send small amounts of data, hence is commonly used for access control and payments.

On the other hand, Bluetooth, whilst not as secure opens up a larger connection range and is most often used on wireless devices such as Android tablet‘s headphones and audio speakers.

Near Field Communication (NFC) is a set of short-range wireless technologies, typically requiring a distance of 4cm or less to initiate a connection. NFC allows you to share small payloads of data between an NFC tag and an Android-powered device, or between two Android-powered devices.

NFC is a newer technology than Bluetooth, though the technology used is older. It sends radio waves using RFID (Radio-frequency Identification). NFC improves it by sending data in both directions instead of only one way like the original technology.

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