If you've noticed an N appearing at the top of your Android phone and wonder what it is and how to get rid of it then this feature will answer your questions. Here's how to take the N off your phone (aka how to turn off NFC). Also see: What is NFC?

The top line of Android smartphone screens offers a wealth of information. This notification bar lets us know when email arrives, downloads are happening, the strength of our WiFi and phone signals, and how much of that precious battery charge we have left. One symbol that you might not instantly recognise though is the rather fancy looking N that appears sometimes. In this feature we’ll explain what it is, how to get rid of it, and why you might want to keep it on instead.

See also: How to improve smartphone battery life

 What does the N symbol mean? What is NFC?

The ornate N is there to let you know that your phone currently has NFC switched on. NFC, or Near Field Communication, is a technology that allows devices to exchange information simply by placing them next to one another. You may well have already encountered NFC if you’ve paid for public transport with an Oyster card, or used the new tap-to-pay feature with your bank card to buy a coffee in the morning. Smartphones use NFC to pass photos, contacts, or any other data you specify between NFC enabled handsets. It is also the method used by Android Pay and Samsung Pay, which we’ll get to later.

See also: Android Pay UK release date and Samsung Pay UK release date

How do I turn off NFC? How to take the 'N' off your phone

It’s pretty simple really. Depending on which version of Android you’re running you might find the option is there in the quick settings pull-down menu. To access this you just slide your finger down from the top of the screen and a grid of icons should appear, with settings for Wifi, Bluetooth, and several others. If you see the N symbol, with NFC underneath, then tap on this so that it goes grey and NFC is turned off.

NFC Settings

If it’s not in the quick settings menu you’ll need to tap on the cog icon at the top of the screen, or open the app drawer and find the Settings icon, then select More in the Wireless & Networks section. Inside you’ll see a toggle switch for NFC. Tap this to turn off the feature.

Now the N symbol should be vanquished from the top of the screen.

Should I turn off NFC? What good will it do when left on?

At the moment the sad truth for UK users is that there isn’t a lot of use for NFC on smartphones. Aside from swapping the occasional photo or phone number with a friend, or using NFC tags to change the behaviour of devices dependent on where they are, the main advantage that our American cousins enjoy - paying for things with their handsets - has yet to make its way across the Atlantic. Google’s Android Pay and Samsung’s equivalent service have now debuted in the US, but no release dates have been forthcoming for these shores. This is particularly grating as iPhone users can now use their phones to buy a number of products and services in stores. With a little luck, and favourable winds, we may yet see the Android ship come in before too long. Until then, it’s probably best to switch off NFC and save yourself a little battery life.  

See also: Apple Pay vs Samsung Pay vs Android Pay