iPhone NFC Compatibility

The latest iPhone models support full Near Field Communication (NFC) functionality; capable of reading, writing, and card emulation.

Support for NFC technology by the Apple iPhone was first introduced in 2014 with the iPhone 6 / 6 Plus and the advent of Apple Pay. Initially, the iPhone’s support for NFC technology was limited solely to use with Apple Pay. Beginning with the release of iOS 11, however, Apple began gradually unlocking additional NFC capabilities within the iPhone 7 and later. With the introduction of iOS 13, Apple’s Core NFC SDK opened the full range of NFC functionalities for iPhone 7 and later.

NFC Feature Compatibility

The NFC features supported across iPhone models is not uniform; different generations of iPhone support different NFC features — from Apple Pay to NFC tag reading, to background tag reading, to NFC tag writing, to NFC triggered actions in the Shortcuts app, and more. Each generation’s NFC capabilities are outlined in the table below.

iPhone 5S and older devices are not NFC compatible.

With the September 2019 release of iOS 13, iPhone devices have the following NFC compatibility:

iPhone 6,
iPhone 6 Plus,
iPhone 6S
,
iPhone SE
iPhone 7,
iPhone 7 Plus
iPhone 8,
iPhone 8 Plus
iPhone X,
iPhone X
Max
iPhone XS,
iPhone XS Max
,
iPhone XR
iPhone 11,
iPhone 11 Pro,
iPhone 11 Pro Max
Apple Pay
(NFC Payments)
YesYes YesYes YesYes
Background NFC
Tag Reading
NoNoNoNoYesYes
NFC Tag
Reading
NoYes 1Yes 1Yes 1Yes 1Yes 1
NFC Tag
Writing
NoYes 1Yes 1Yes 1Yes 1Yes 1
Access to NFC Chip
(UID, counter…)
NoYes 1Yes 1Yes 1Yes 1Yes 1
NFC Actions
in Shortcuts App
NoNoNoNoYesYes
Apple Wallet – PassKit
(Card Emulation)
YesYesYesYesYesYes
  1. Third-party app required; no native iPhone functionality

NFC Chip Types / Tag Types

iOS supports all NFC Forum tag types (Type 1 – Type 5) and NXP MIFARE and therefore all NFC Forum NFC chip types. This includes the popular NTAGX, Ultralight, SLI-X and MIFARE Classic series of NFC chips.

Blank NFC Chips

NFC chips come from the factory blank, meaning that no data has been written to the user memory portion of the NFC chips. Therefore a blank NFC tag will not do anything when read by an iPhone. The NFC chip needs to be NDEF encoded to be recognized via background NFC tag reading or with a third-party NFC tag writing app.

Learn more about how to write NFC tags with an iPhone.

Updated on November 13, 2019

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