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What You Need to Know about the Difference between RFID and NFC

Eko Prasetyo,

Well, we have talked a lot about RFID technology previously. We have talked about NFC technology too. And in our previous article, it is stated that actually, NFC technology is a part of RFID. Then, if it’s so, why do we bother by making a certain classification for it instead of making NFC and RFID in a single category? The answer is because there are some points on these technologies that are different.  And even though they use the similar principles, there are several aspects that are different. So, what is the difference between RFID and NFC? Here is the explanation about it.

Read more about RFID in: Understanding RFID Reader: What It Is & How Does It Work

The Difference between RFID and NFC

What You Need to Know about the Difference between RFID and NFCBasically, RFID and NFC are having similar principle. Both of them work by employing the radio WAVES. In RFID, the system consists of three main components. It is a tag, an antenna, and a reader. While in NFC, there will be only a tag and a reader. On both technologies, the reader has a duty to interrogate the tag by sending signal. With this signal, the tag will respond by sending the information needed. And here is where we can see the difference between RFID and NFC, especially on how the communication between reader and tag happens.

The Tag Operation of RFID and NFC

Here is the first difference between RFID and NFC, on the communication between tags. In RFID, the tag can be divided into passive and active. Unlike the passive, active one has its own power source, so it can transfer signal in 100 meters range. With this wide range of signal transferring, active RFID tag is effective for large scale of industry. Further, both active and passive tag will respond by sending the information after receive interrogation signal from the reader. This is the signal that is transmitted through the antenna in the reader.

Read more about NFC in our previous article here.

In the case of NFC, you will have something more advance than that. Even though NFC operates in the same frequency with RFID, 13.56 MHz, but their technical operation is different. There is no antenna needed by NFC to operate. Further, the NFC devices are also able to act as both reader and tag. This is where NFC comes simpler than RFID. And with this characteristic, NFC technology will be perfect to be applied in some aspects, especially for the mobile commerce. And more interestingly, NFC reader is also able to read RFID tag which complied with ISO 15693.

The Communication of RFID and NFC

The second difference between RFID and NFC comes to the communication sector of both technologies. In RFID, the communication created is limited to one way communication. The reader has duty to transmit the interrogation signal, and the tag sends the information after all. Moreover, as the updated version of RFID, the communication in NFC will be a little bit different. Unlike its predecessor, NFC is able to create two-way communication. This is due to the characteristic of NFC device which is able to act as both reader and tag. This is why peer-to-peer communication will be possible when we are using NFC.

More information about NFC in this wiki page.

The Range of RFID and NFC

The last obvious difference between RFID and NFC is on the transmission range of it. As it is stated before, there are two kinds of RFID tag. And on the active one, it has its own power supply. As a result, this tag can transmit signal in about 100 meters range. So, the reading process can be done from a long distance. While in the NFC, the transmission range is only happen in a few centimeters away. And to do this, user need to tap both devices to make the transmission possible. This is when the RFID comes more functional than the NFC itself.

Click here for more information about RFID.

Finally, that’s all of the information we need to share about the difference between RFID and NFC. With this information, we hope that we can update your understanding toward technological update. Further, if you have any other ideas about it, wou will be welcomed to put them in the comment session below. And in last, if you think that this writing is informative, you can share it in your personal page. So, the information inside it can be spread in the wider range of audience.