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Must-have NFC smartphones

All of these superb phones pack slick NFC technology, and here's why you want them.

Brian Bennett Former Senior writer
Brian Bennett is a former senior writer for the home and outdoor section at CNET.
Brian Bennett
4 min read

NFC technology has been poised to reach critical mass, at least in the U.S., for years now. Touted to bestow upon smartphones a wide range of magical solutions, proponents of NFC (near field communication) have said it will enable everything from using your phone as a digital wallet, serving as a secure and convenient method of identification, to even unlocking your home's front door.

NFC invades Mobile World Congress (pictures)

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And if the technology's big presence at MWC 2013 was any indication, it seems the long wait for the wonderful world of NFC might actually be nearing an end. Yes, almost all of today's hottest handsets -- sorry, iPhone 5, you lose -- come with NFC circuitry baked right in. From the mighty Samsung Galaxy S3 (and yes the upcoming Galaxy S4, too), HTC One, HTC Droid DNA, and Nokia Lumia 920, all are on the NFC bandwagon. And don't count out the BlackBerry Z10, Sony Xperia TL, Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD, and excellent LG Nexus 4, which can harness the powers of NFC as well.

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HTC Droid DNA (Verizon)
Unquestionably the best Droid device Verizon has ever sold, the HTC Droid DNA is much more than a mobile fire-breather. Running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and powered by a 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, the DNA also uses NFC for easy Bluetooth pairing. The handset has built-in Qi wireless charging, too. Read the full review of the HTC Droid DNA.

Sarah Tew/CNET
NFC is just one of the HTC One's many tricks. The company's latest flagship phone is powered by a new 1.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor, a massive 4.7-inch HD screen, plus Android Jelly Bean. The real draw of this device, though, is its achingly beautiful aluminum unibody design. Read our hands-on review of the HTC One.

LG Nexus 4
Josh Miller/CNET

LG Nexus 4 (T-Mobile)
The freshest officially sanctioned Nexus handset, the LG Nexus 4 flaunts both a lovely glass design and elegant Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean user interface. Running the most recent version of Android available, the Nexus 4 also can use NFC to full Google effect. Specifically that means Android Beam to transfer application data such as pictures, Web sites, or contacts just by bumping phones together. Driven by a 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon CPU, the handset will likely receive fresh Android updates before any other phone. Read the full review of the LG Nexus 4.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD
When it first hit the market last fall, the Droid Razr Maxx HD was certainly one of the most fearsome mobile machines ever minted by Motorola. It not only mixed quick dual-core processing with a big, 4.7-inch AMOLED screen, plus a humongous 3,300mAh battery for amazing longevity, it also added an NFC chip, which it predecessors lacked. Now that Motorola has thrown in an update to Android Jelly Bean, it's an even more compelling option. Read a full review of the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD.

Josh Miller/CNET

BlackBerry Z10
Blackberry's best, most powerful handset yet, the Z10 is attractive and boasts all the slickness the new BlackBerry 10 operating system can muster. Along with a solid camera and smooth performance, the touch-screen Z10 also boasts NFC tech to pair with Bluetooth gadgets such as the BlackBerry Music Gateway in a snap. Read the full review of the BlacbBerry Z10.

Josh Miller/CNET

Samsung Galaxy S3 (multiple carriers)
No one can deny the global success of Samsung's Galaxy S3. Besides coming packed to the gills with excellent mobile components for a very attractive price, the handset's software was also top notch for its time. Complementing Android, now recently upgraded to 4.1 Jelly Bean, you'll find all the bells and whistles here, including NFC. Samsung also put its own spin on Android Beam, called S Beam, that merges NFC and Wi-Fi direct to push large files between compatible smartphones. Read the full review of the Samsung Galaxy S3.

Wireless charging on the Nokia Lumia 920
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Nokia Lumia 920 (AT&T)
Arguably no other smartphone line has been as much a champion of NFC technology than Nokia's Lumia handsets. Featuring Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 software, the Lumia 920 is no exception. It uses NFC to connect to specially crafted accessories such as JBL wireless Bluetooth speakers, which also charge the phone sans wires, and the Nokia Purity Pro headphones by Monster. Read the full review of the Nokia Lumia 920.

Sony Xperia TL
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Sony Xperia TL (AT&T)
Sony smartphones have long championed the virtues of NFC, and the latest Xperia device to hit a U.S. carrier, the Xperia TL, is cut from the same cloth. Finally boasting modern dual-core Snapdragon processing and a powerful camera, the handset also uses NFC to read Sony Smart Tag stickers to alter menu settings in a flash. Read the full review of the Sony Xperia TL.