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Nokia Turns on the NFC Features in Its C7 Smartphone

Mar 23 2011 (All day)

ORLANDO, FLA. ­– Nokia has enabled the NFC chip in its C7 smartphone for the devices it is shipping to T-Mobile USA, NFC Times has confirmed.

Marketed as the Astound in the United States, where it will be sold exclusively by T-Mobile starting April 6, the C7 smartphone will be able to do NFC tag reading and peer-to-peer communication, thanks to the upgraded Symbianˆ3.1 operating system in the phone, said a source. 

AT&T is planning to acquire T-Mobile USA, which is a unit of Germany-based Deutsche Telekom, though the deal still must get approval from regulators.

Nokia announced the phone today at the International CTIA Wireless show in Orlando, Fla., but did not disclose the NFC functionality in its press material. The phone’s menu, however, allows users to activate the NFC features, NFC Times has learned.

Nokia began shipping the C7 in October with an NFC chip inside, as NFC Times reported, but the Symbianˆ3 operating system did not have the software to support the NFC chip. 

With the NFC functionality now enabled, the C7 becomes the second NFC smartphone on the world market, after the Nexus S, which Google introduced in December. Update: Nokia is expected to disclose details of the availability of the NFC-enabed C7 outside of the United States by the third week of April. End update.

There are few Symbian apps in Nokia’s Ovi Store that support NFC, however. But an NFC application-programming interface and software development kit for developers to build tag-reading and P2P apps are available or soon will be, a source connected with Nokia told NFC Times. Nokia already sells a Bluetooth headset that is also NFC-enabled. Users could tap the latest version of the C7 to the headset for automatic Bluetooth pairing.

The NFC-enabled C7 cannot do payment or support other secure applications in card-emulation mode, at least not the version shipped to T-Mobile. The phone does not have an embedded secure chip and the Astound apparently doesn’t support applications on SIM cards.

But the NFC chip in the C7, from NXP Semiconductors, is likely able to support the single-wire protocol connection to the SIM card if ordered by mobile operators with the feature.

Nokia has said all of its Symbian smartphones shipped starting this year will support NFC, although Nokia will phase Symbian out over the next few years as it develops smartphones on Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform. The Nokia Windows phones are also expected to eventually support NFC.

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