Near Field Communication versus Bluetooth

Bluetooth and near field communication share several features, both being forms of wireless communication between devices over short distances. NFC is limited to a distance of approximately four centimeters while Bluetooth can reach over thirty feet. While it may seem that Bluetooth is superior in this regard, both Bluetooth and NFC technology have their advantages and disadvantages compared to one another and can work together to meet users’ needs.

NFC technology consumes little power when compared to standard Bluetooth technology. Only when NFC has to power a passive, unpowered source such as an NFC tag does it require more power than a Bluetooth transmission.

The close proximity that devices connected using NFC must be to each other actually proves useful in crowded locations to prevent interference caused when other devices are present and trying to communicate. Bluetooth may have trouble dealing with interference when trying to send signals between two devices, especially when several other devices are in close proximity.

Another benefit of NFC technology comes in its ease of use. Bluetooth requires users to manually set up connections between smartphones and takes several seconds. NFC connects automatically in a fraction of a second, so fast it seems instantaneous. Though the users must be close to one another to use NFC technology, it is faster and easier to set up than a Bluetooth connection.

Bluetooth does still offer a longer signal range for connecting during data communication and transfers. NFC technology has taken advantage of this and can connect two devices quickly, then turn the signal over to Bluetooth so the owners can move further away without severing the connection.

The latest development in Bluetooth technology, Bluetooth low energy (BLE), is targeted at low power consumption and uses even less power than NFC. As the technology increases, Bluetooth and NFC technology may continue to work together, relying on each other to help users meet their data transmission needs.

What Is NFC and Why Should I Care?