NFC Tags Add Old-School Functionality To New Phone

Back in the day, we had smartphones with physical buttons. Not just power, volume, and maybe another button on the front. Whole, slide-out QWERTY keyboards right on the underside of the phone. It was a lawless wasteland, but for those who yearn for the wild-west days of the late 2000s, [Liviu] has recreated the shortcut buttons that used to exist on the tops of these keyboards for modern-day smartphones.

There were lots of phones that had shortcut keys on their keyboards, but [Liviu] enjoyed using the ones that allowed him to switch between applications (or “apps” as the kids are saying these days) such as the calendar, the browser, or the mail client. To recreate this, he went with a few NFC tags. These devices are easily programmed via a number of apps from your app store of choice, and can be placed essentially anywhere. In order to make them visible to the phone at any time, though, he placed the tags inside a clear plastic case for his phone and can now use them anytime.

If you’ve never used or programmed an NFC tag, this would be a great project to get yourself acquainted with how they operate. Plus, you could easily upgrade this project to allow the tags to do any number of other things. You can take projects like this as far as you want.

27 thoughts on “NFC Tags Add Old-School Functionality To New Phone

          1. From my experience, it can go many ways. The adhesive is 3M 300LSE and it grips quite hard to basically anything. I have managed to somehow leave some residue stains that you can easily brush off with your finger after 1+ year adhesion. I have not yet heard about a permanent damage being done to a device.

            I have witnessed it though with the decorative vinyl skins (mostly using 3M 180/480cv3 or some avery 1005series cast vinyl)- if applied on an aging iPhone 3G/Gs- the removal of the decorative skin may take away with it pieces of the gloss lacquer. I have not seen such lacquer being used on any other device since then.

  1. Where’s the YouPorn button? I’m just asking… for a friend! Seriously though put one of these on your kids phone with your picture so they can call you in an emergency, well until they change it to YouPorn.

  2. Off topic but near-topic:
    Is there any slideout qwerty phone on the market with modern specs? After 3 screen-only smartphones I really miss my G1 and previous phones with full keyboards. I KNOW there is a market for these… why don’t we see them??

    1. Absolutely. I miss my blackberry and Nokia E71 keypad. Was a joy to use, single handed operation and then the big LCD thingy happened. meh.
      would be VERY VERY happy to have a phone like a Nokia E7 or a souped up Blackberry

      1. I’ve had several people ask me “Ooo, what phone is that?”, about my E7. It was a reluctant upgrade from my previous E72 but I find it is almost perfect, despite running an old system.
        Install the Belle Delight custom rom and you’ve got excellent battery life and as many ‘apps’ as you can eat (many programs for most conceivable uses were written before the iPhone ever came along).
        It does proper multitasking, tethers or runs as a wifi hotspot and Opera mini is a very good (i.e. quick, non-bloated) browser on this phone.
        The camera isnt quite as good as the E72 but I ‘fixed’ mine with some clever, magnetic accessory lenses in case I want fish-eye, macro or wide angle (good for A4 page captures on a fixed-focus camera).
        Ok, I have had to get the USB port replaced, but its has quite some use over 4 years, and my new magnetic USB cable means it never has to happen again. The screen is also magically spotless.
        It never ran Flash, and now, nobody cares! Hooray!
        The keypad is brilliant and the screen sits at a pleasing angle.
        Somebody mentioned their ‘cold, dead hands’? This is what you’ll probably find in mine :D
        Oh yeah, and I bought it refurbished & unlocked for 130 euro…
        Its just good all over.
        Too bad about Nokia.

    2. I still use a Nokia N900. It may not have the fastest CPU or the most RAM or the most powerful GPU but the hardware keyboard is hands down the best keyboard/keypad I have EVER used on any phone and its far better than the virtual software keyboard on any iPhone or Android device I have used.

      And although Nokia stopped releasing software updates for the phone a while back, the community (myself included) has taken over, see and :)

    3. I’m using a Motorola Droid 4. Running cyanogen it’s not terrible… As NSA says, there’s the new blackberry android, but I’ve read some damning reviews and it costs an arm and a leg.

  3. Not saying this is a bad idea… but …

    My phone has soft buttons (on screen) to 20 apps including my email, contacts, phone, calendar, chrome, camera and other most recently used apps as soon as I unlock it, and one click gets me to all my apps. So, why would I need an NFC “button” to get to any of those? My launcher would put it on the screen if I used it often enough.

    1. For me hardware buttons are easier to reliably hit when moving around, like on a bike or stretching arm up in the air with the phone to get a better angle for a photo shot. I can imagine many such uses where those dimple buttons can come in handy.

  4. “applications (or “apps” as the kids are saying these days)”
    Hate this word. “Application”. I’m still calling them programs as some of them are far from being complete and/or useful. Hate these phones as well, made to fill us with ads and s****. And now Firefox OS is dead… Stuck with iFart, Androshit or Windoze Phony. Forgive them lord, cause they don’t know just what they do.

  5. Maybe I am the only one who do not see the value of this hack. AFAIK, in order to use NFC, the screen needs to be on.That’s one (or action) button already. If there is a lock screen, the phone needs to be unlocked too. Then one needs to press the hacked NFC tag button. Might as well just use a lock screen widget.

    Other than that, NFC tag automation could not be more common. Am I missing something here?

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