Android Handsets Getting Gingerbread, but What About NFC?

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2011-04-11 Print this article Print

ComputerWorld compiled the type of list people gobble up: a list of smartphones getting the bump to Gingerbread, or Google's latest Android 2.3 operating system.

Gingerbread is best known for offering native support for near field communications (NFC), a gyroscope for improved gaming, Internet (VoIP/SIP) calling, multitasking and a refreshed user interface with a better keyboard. This means better copy and paste capabilities as well.

Gingerbread logo.png

Take a look at the list to see if your Android gadget is on there. I have a Droid X, and if this list is to be believed, I'm getting the Gingerbread snap.

Just one thing about this though.

When Google unveiled the Samsung Nexus S as the first Gingerbread phone last December, it explained that in addition to the native NFC in the OS, the smartphone had a chip and open-source software stack supplied by NFC chip maker NXP.

Presumably, the chip and NFC native capabilities are essential to enable the communications between the phone and associated mobile payment or other scanning applications and the sensors in point-of-sale terminals and posters.

But I know my Droid X doesn't have any such NFC chip from NXP, Samsung or anyone else. I'm pretty sure the other phones on this list don't either.

So the obvious question is: What are we missing? If I get the Android 2.3.3 upgrade over the air on my Droid X, will I still be able to enjoy the full NFC capabilities afforded to owners of the sleek, snazzy Samsung Nexus S?

Moreover, will the Galaxy S II and other phones launching with Gingerbread as their native platform incorporate NFC chips?

My guess is NFC capabilities on my phone would be indeed limited without the benefit of the controller chip, or else why have the chip?

I've appealed to Google for an answer, but if any NFC buffs out there know, drop us a line.

Updated: Okay, NFC experts told me no NFC chip, no NFC capabilities, which for a Droid X owner such as myself means I won't be able to enjoy NFC for mobile payments or anything else.

Unless, of course, I break contract and buy a Nexus S or wait 18 months when my contract is uo and buy a phone that does enable NFC. My guess is by that time most of the world still won't be doing mobile payments via NFC so I can afford to wait.

In any event, without NFC, what benefits does Gingerbread hold for us smartphone users? I kind of like the new and improved keyboard, but have little use for the other characteristics Google is offering with the bump. |

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