Nokia to switch on C7’s NFC functionality “in early 2011”

A firmware upgrade enabling the C7 to handle a variety of NFC tag reading and pairing applications will be available from the beginning of next year, Nokia’s head of PR for France has told technology publication Teknologik.

Nokia C7 handset
NOKIA C7: NFC functions coming in early 2011

Nokia’s C7 smartphone will be able to handle NFC tag reading and pairing functions from the beginning of 2011, Xavier des Horts, the company’s head of PR for France, has told technology publication Teknologik in an exclusive video interview.

Nokia launched the C7 in September and revealed the following month that the smartphone contains an NFC chip and that it would be possible to upgrade the device to support NFC. It did not reveal at the time, however, when the software upgrade needed to switch on its NFC functionality would be available.

Now, des Horts has told Teknologik, the Nokia C7’s NFC functionality “will be activated with the next firmware release, early next year.” At that point, he expains, the device will be able to perform applications such as pairing with a headset, playing games and storing coupons.

No date has yet been set for the arrival of payments applications on Nokia phones, however, although des Horts does say that the handset maker will provide card emulation functions in the future. Whether that will be possible with the C7, though, is not currently clear as industry rumours suggest the C7 may not include the necessary hardware to support payments applications.

Confusion also remains over whether there are any other current Nokia phones that contain an NFC chip. Earlier this month Jo Harlow, Nokia’s senior vice president for smartphones, told Bloomberg Businessweek that NFC will be available on “some existing devices” early next year. In the Teknologik interview, des Horts says Nokia has developed six NFC phones over the past seven to eight years.

If two early shells that fitted over standard phones to deliver near field communication functionality, the Field Force NFC Shell and the NFC Shell CC-229D, are included then there are already six Nokia NFC devices that we are aware of (the two shells, the cancelled 6216 Classic, the widely used 6212 Classic, the 6131 and the Symbian^3-based C7— see our NFC phones list for details).

If the shells are excluded, though, it could mean there are two other current devices that contain an NFC chip. Nokia told NFC World in October, however, that the C7 is the only one of the four devices it unveiled at Nokia World in September to include NFC functionality — neither the C3, the C6 nor the E7 contain an NFC chip.

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