How to use NFC tags with your BlackBerry 10 phone

Using NFC tags makes life more fun! And you want to have more fun in your life, right?! :)
By DJ Reyes on 3 Apr 2014 10:08 am EDT

Back when we were all still using legacy BlackBerry devices we took a look at using NFC with supported devices. While we've had a look at using NFC to share files and photos with others there are many uses. BlackBerry 10 has a great app called Smart Tags which you can use to create your own tags. It's not a new app but we haven't taken the time to look at the app before, so join me as we create some NFC tags with the native Smart Tags app.


Getting Started

NFC Tags

To begin with you'll want to get yourself some NFC tags. These come in different shapes and sizes and they can be purchased around the interwebs quite cheaply. You can buy them in sticker form so you can just stick them where you want them or you can even find tags which you can hang from different places. It doesn't really matter which style you get, that will be your preference.

You'll also need the Smart Tags app. It comes preinstalled on your BlackBerry 10 device but if for whatever reason it's not there you can download it from BlackBerry World.

Download Smart Tags from BlackBerry World


Using the BlackBerry Smart Tags app

The Smart Tags app is very simple to use and you can create tags in seconds from your Z30, Z10, Q10, Q5 or P'9982. When you open the app it will show you your list of created tags. Naturally, the very first time you open it that list will be empty and you"ll find a Plus icon prompting you to start creating tags. You'll find a long list of tags that you can create: tags to simply open a website; tags to share contact information; tags to share your social media profiles and even tags for Smart Triggers that can change your ringtone or alarm, or toggle connectivity options.

Smart Tags for BlackBerry 10  Smart Tags NFC tag options

Just tap on what you want to create and then hit Write to NFC Tag on the bottom. It prompts you to tap your device to the tag and it will write create the NFC tag. You'll then see it appear on your list. (Note: At the time of writing I am running BlackBerry OS and if I created any Smart Triggers they did not show up on the list).


Example - Create a Wi-Fi toggle NFC tag

The Smart Tags app has a lot of options for you to choose from and you can really go to town and create dozens of tags for your use or even for public use but here's an example of creating a Wi-Fi toggle tag. But there is an option for you to specifically turn the Wi-Fi off or on.

  • Turn on NFC on your device
  • Open the Smart Tags app
  • Tap the Plus icon on the bottom
  • Select Smart Triggers
  • Tap the Plus icon
  • Select Wi-Fi then select Toggle from the dropdown menu
  • Tap Write to NFC Tag along the bottom
  • Tap your device to the NFC tag. The toast notification will pop up to say the tag was successfully written

Quick and easy!

Add smart Triggers  Smart Tags Wi-Fi Trigger

With Smart Triggers you can add more than one function to one tag too. So, for example if you wanted to turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and change your wallpaper all at the same time, you could go ahead and do that. Pretty neat feature. Perhaps, when you get home you want to change your notification profile and turn on Wi-Fi, this can be done too. You can create custom combinations for your preference.

Smart Triggers multi-select  Smart Trigger multi-tag options


Other options

Smart Tags also allows you to erase NFC data from a tag. If you no longer needed that function and wanted to create something else, you can erase the data and create a new one. At the same time, there is an option to lock the NFC tag data so that it could not be erased. This is helpful for the times when you want to perhaps stick an NFC tag in a public place and don't want anyone to be able to erase the data and change what it does. You can also mark tags as favorite and you can jump into that list quickly from the side tab, helpful when your list starts to grow.


I'm starting to use NFC tags more and more finding many uses for them. Having the Smart Tags app is what makes this a lot of fun. You can see that there is a whole bunch of NFC tags that you can create and even mix them up to do multiple things in one go. I only touched on the basics in this tutorial, now it's up to you to go out and tag!

Are you using NFC and the Smart Tags app with your Z30, Z10, Q10, Q5 or P'9982? If so, hit up the comments and let us know how you're putting them to use!

Reader comments

How to use NFC tags with your BlackBerry 10 phone


Hey Kevin, thought you'd be interested in this. Neil Gaiman has some great things to say about 10.2.1, Z30 vs. Android/Iphone devices.

From Neil Gaimans LiveJournal blog
"(As a note here: when the year was up, I wanted to stay with BlackBerry as a phone platform. I really liked it, and kept finding myself frustrated when I'd use iPhones or Android phones, but I was grumpy about the lack of apps. They gave me a Z30. It's a wonderful phone (here's the USA Today write up.) But y'know, like they said in the USA Today review, no Yelp and no Netflix.

But then, a couple of weeks after I got the Z30, they released the latest operating system, 10.2.1, which also now natively runs Android apps. I archived on my old Android phone any Android apps I wanted on the Z30, bluetoothed them over to the BlackBerry, installed them, and now use Yelp and Netflix and Audible and such on the BlackBerry with abandon.) is awesome! I have their tags and they work great. Store a large amount of data (longer commands) than competitors.

They ship out of Canada too!

Posted via CB10

I'm going to buy some now. Been putting it off for ages. Remember you need special tags to use on metal. (cost more)

Posted via CB10

Pretty cool didn't know how easy it could be to make some of my own tags.. I don't really have any actual use for such a thing, but a great option none the less :)

Posted via CB10

I use NFC Tags daily to turn off my Wi-Fi when I leave the house for work, the Wi-Fi at work is terrible. Also one by my table near the chair I read at in the evening turns my phone to vibrate only when tapped. The best is the one at the bottom of the stairs to my basement, once tapped the Bluetooth turns on and Connects to my BlackBerry gateway, my Music player then opens and away I go.

Effortless and simple.

Posted via CB10

Here is where I ordered my tags from they are pretty cheap and quick, free shipping.

I live in Winnipeg, Canada

5 Black NTAG203 NFC Tags From NFCGuyz

Posted via CB10

Never really used this, always hoping for cc payment option to come to US. But seems like may never happen now, so got a question. If I set up a tag to do a specific function (say turn on pandora or whatever) can it be set up to do the same thing on another device or would it require another tag?
Ah great post by the way.

Way cool! I have been waiting for crackberry to make a video of smart tags from day one! Thanks!

At first I could not think of a way I could use this, now I'm starting to figure it out.

Put two in my car, one to turn wifi off and bluetooth on and one to do the reverse. One by the treadmill to open my music app.

I can think of more uses but maybe I should just buy some tags and go play.

Posted via CB10

Bought some 2 months ago but never really used them. The effort of turing wifi on/off or bluetooth is extremely little as it's all in the dropdown menu. Still waiting for some more useful functions to be implemented :)

If you use the "toggle" action, you could get away with a single tag. That's assuming that your BT and WiFi are both On or Off in synchronous.

I typically find nfc to be more of a battery drain than anything useful. I turn it on at Tim hortons to pay for my coffee and that's about it. For simple triggers like wifi and vibrate only I don't think it would be worth keeping my nfc on, and if I turned it on to touch those tags I'd probably just as well hit the buttons for the other functions as well.

Posted via CB10

I keep NFC on all of the time, never notice any kind of battery drain, I always almost have 50% left at the end of the day on one charge. But I'm on a Q10, are you on a Z10??

I agree, technology is great ... when it simplifies something that takes time, not just swiping a screen and tapping an icon.

Posted via CB10

Well, considering you can set it to do multiple things at once, it definitely does simplify things. I'm going to have one that turns on wifi and sets my notifications to normal for home use, and one that turns wifi off and sets notifications to vibrate for work use. That's two steps with one tap. That's just one example, there are many other combinations as well and can be much more than just two settings changed.

It hardly affects battery from what I can tell... I went from never using your telephone to always having it discernible difference in battery life

I keep my nfc on all the time and don't notice a battery drain at all. I think it only uses power When reading a tag and that should not be too often

Posted via CB10

I disagree, no excess battery drain for me neither my gf.

I understand what you are saying but it is easier to just tap the back of my phone to one of these tags and execute a process without having to even unlock or turn my BlackBerry screen on.

Photos captured using BlackBerry devices - C00016D81

Nfc sounds neat but unfortunately the extended battery does not support it.

Visit my channel @ C0029395D

What do you mean by "extended battery not supported"?

NFC radio on BlackBerry is either built in (i.e. Z30) or on the backcover (i.e. Z10). It does not seems to have anything to do with extended battery.

Posted via CB10

Extended batteries have a different battery door/cover which does not have the NFC capabilities built in.

Note to anybody who intend to make tags with digital business cards on them:

The vcard format is not very compact, so you will need a tag with a larger storage capacity than the most common, NTAG203 chip (144 bytes) based ones.

Meanwhile; Milfare's 1k chip tags DO NOT WORK with Blackberry phones, nor many other recent ones.

I am using tags with a Topaz 512 chip for vcards - their half k seems sufficient enough, and they appear to work fine with any nfc capable phone.

Thanks for this. This is one of the most useful uses I think.
Good to know what you have learned.

Anyone know what the technical specs are for this? Like which size nfc tags would work? I would like to have more options than what the crackberry store has. I see some on Amazon, but not 100% sure they would work. Anyone know?

For example, on Amazon, I see some tags that come with stickers with pictures (so you remember what the tag is for) that is Topaz 512. Would those work on BB10? I think the Mifare 1K ones are not compatible?

What about topaz 512?

Edit: I keep reading on descriptions that topaz 512 is compatible with all NFC phones including BB. I hope that's true, I'm thinking about buying a set of them from Amazon...

These tags are not even known where I live, could take some 10 years until they're implemented around public places and coffee shops like you guys have in canada..

Posted via CB10 on my Z10STL100-

You can create a contact with your own information, and the just share it via NFC from contact apps.

Alternatively, you can use Smart Tag app as well.

Posted via CB10

I don't see why you cant just create a entry in your contacts with all your information (perhaps keep it as a favorite so it sits at the top for easiest access) then share that contact info via NFC (Tap the phones together).

I love NFC. I feel berry needs some more options is smart tags. But! I love em
Got a tage at bedside, cardoor,front door, locker, on playbook!

Didn't know anything about this, I can definitely find uses for it though. Thanks guys.
Kevin when can we expect stock?

Posted via CB10

NFC is really useful, I love using it at Tims, using it as a bar code reader and making funny bar codes with hidden messages that I send to friends.

Posted via CB10

depending on who your carrier is ( and where you are) at this point I dont think you can. Like many new technologies there are still multiple mutually exclusive platforms. ISIS wallet is one ( supported by T-mobile and AT&T, I think) and I think that Mastercard has another one. Google wallet, the first one to get to consumers was somehow associated with Mastercard pay pass but I think there have been technical problems with its implementation.

You need an app from a bank that supports it, on a network that supports it.

In Canada right now, that is the CIBC, using a special (free) Suretap SIM card from Rogers that secures the credit card info.

And not all of the bank's credit cards can be used, some of the cheap no-fee cards are not supported.

Other banks and networks are slowly rolling out similar solutions.

Posted via CB10

Thanks again, DJ Reyes. I have been using NFC tags with my Q10. I have one at work, home (at the front door) and in the car.

But I never could figure a way to toggle Location and Hotspot. So, I can launch my map app with the NFC tag, but I have this extra step of turning on location (which I generally leave off). Hotspot I would like to use b/c of having another device also in the car, but that is a completely manual step.

I also would like to just control the "data" part of Mobile Networks on/off switch. I better take another look at this and see if I can get it perfect.

Places I use nfc

Leaving office (turns sound on/wifi off/bt on)

I'm car (bt connect to car)
. Leaving car (bt connection to jawbone)

Gym bag (mobile off /sound off)

Also have one on the back of my bt keyboard. I connect it to my phone sometimes other times I use my tablet which also has nfc. Just tap and type

Quite useful anyone else have any other good ideas for where I can use them?

Posted via CB10

I have them ( Mifare Ultralight C) and I use them as most do, I have one on the inside door frame at work so if I have to leave and go to a meeting I can toggle notifications "normal/silent" as I walk out. I almost always do it going out but often forget coming back, I might put a tag on both sides of the door and see if it helps.

One of the things I wish was possible was the ability to launch programs with automated actions. like putting a tag on my bike, when I tap it have it send a text to my wife saying " just getting on bike will be home soon". or putting one inside the door at home so when my daughter gets home she taps it and it sends me a text " just go home" etc.

The bundled NFC reader does not do this and My Profiles pro can do this part of the way but all it can do it open certain apps then you have to manually type it, select the recipient, and then send it which is not all that usefull. I think in android you CAN do these types of things. I spoke to the my profiles pro developper ( who was really responsive and helpful) but he was of the opinion it wont work, although I dont specifically remember why.

Another thing I'd like is ISIS wallet which I was told was coming to BB but I dont know whether that plan is still current, if you look at the ISIS ready phones, there are no BB devices on that list. but this would be more of a "whoa" thing as the number of merchants who accept digital wallet payments is still kinda low.
That or attach a tag to the outside of my wallet and use that as a poormans NFC ring to unlock my phone, but in this case I would NEED to have it launch something to unlock it ( like enter a specific code) so that if I ever dont have my wallet or lose it, I would still be able to manually unlock the phone.

i had problems with the blank nfc tags i bought from amazon, they didnt work with BB, there are some tags out there that are not compatible with BB phones for some reason; are these tags definitively compatible with BB phones?

if you are asking whether the Mifare Ultralight C's are compatible, they are. Samsung uses NFC tags ( I think they are called TecTiles) that are available at places like Best buy but these decidedly DO NOT work ( or at least they did not when I checked) with my Z10.

The Mifare Ultrlight C's hold 192 bytes and are avaialble at lots of different online retailers, at around a buck a pop.

Use NTAG203.

This site has nice tags. I give the key chains to dog owners. I put the name of the dog and the owner's phone number on the tag.

The ABS disks are good for outdoor use.

Just a FYI, you need special tags for use on metal surfaces. Zipnfc carries both types.

Posted via CB10

I use NTAG203. It works perfectly for my q10 and z30 :D

Q10 SQN100-3 | Z30 STA100-2 | iPhone 4s IOS 7.xx

I wish they had a "bedside mode" toggle option in the smart apps.

U think it's easy to write a mini app to get into this mode when tapped?

Send from my Q10 in Duracell Mode

I wish there was an option to change which accounts display in the hub... I like changing the mix between home and work.

I was hoping Loblaws would set up NFC on their new PC Plus asp just like Tim's did. I fired off an email to them and they did reply that they would look into it. I have not heard back from them since and that was a month ago.

Posted via CB10

Never thought I would get any use out of NFC, but I've realized that I do have a daily routine for my phone before going to bed, might be worth it to pick up a couple of these NFC tags! Does any know how much it drains the battery to leave NFC on all day?

I never turn off my NFC and noticed no additional drain when I started to leave it on. I did spend over 9 months with it off in the same phone.

Not noticeable in my opinion.

Posted via CB10

The Tim Hortons app uses downloaded gift cards onto your phone then simply open the app and viola, transaction done.

Posted via CB10

This article is useless without telling people what a "tag" is in the first place and second, why it's useful/fun to create one! Try again crackberry. Disappointing for a user who has no idea what to do with tags I might create using the process outlined. Ugh...

Posted via CB10

I use Google for information on "how tos" with my blackberry and it leads me to Crackberry. So if I've taken the time and downloaded the app and read it daily, I don't expect to have to do additional research for all things blackberry. It should be here...I'm just saying.

Posted via CB10

Not that I was unfamiliar with creating tags, but this post lead me to actually buy some. There were a couple apps on BBOS that I was going to use in tandem with the tags but I don't know if there are any apps that enhance it on BB10

Thanks for this, DJ! NFC is one of the few remaining uncharted territories on my phone. The only mentions I saw of it in the Forums was related to that Timmy's coffee chain in Canada which lets customers pay via NFC. I've never seen anything like it here in the US. Now I definitely will have to try creating some tags!

Typed on my Q10, SQN100-2, :-)

I see NFC payment options at checkouts here and there. Walgreens has them at every store -- at least, here in Chicago.

Thanks, I'll check at our local Walgreen's. I may not have noticed it or not known what it was.

Typed on my Q10, SQN100-2, :-)

Yup been using nfc tags for a few purpose such as setting my alarm, turn off wifi when leave the house, turn on bluetooth in car, open waze, I even use my Z10 to unlock my door via NFC.

Posted via CB10

NFC door lock? I looked around for one a while back but only found those bluetooth ones.

What is it that you're using?

Posted via CB10

How about being able to use nfc in a geocaching way? Similar to the rf tags businesses use to track movement of people or stuff.

Posted via CB10

This is possible. Munzee is similar to Geocaching but used NFC tags and bar codes. The issue is they do not have a BB app currently and the android APK crashes.

You could set a NFC tag with a travel bug website link and also use a barcode in the same manner. Then when they are scanned you are taken to the trackable website to log the discovery. This would be good if you are making your vehicle a 'travel bug'

I would like to be able to change my "Screen Lock" option by using a NFC tag. Although I seem to not be able to do so. Does anybody know how this can be done?

My current status:
Smartphone: BBZ10
Carrier: Rogers
Location: Canada, Ontario



Posted via CB10

It's a shame blackberry didn't include all of the BB10 Settings options in their smart tags app. I routinely use Tethering with USB cable at work and would love to have a NFC tag to turn on tethering and set it to USB rather than bluetooth. Is there any way this can be done?

Posted via CB10

It's a shame blackberry didn't include all of the BB10 Settings options in their smart tags app. I routinely use Tethering with USB cable at work and would love to have a NFC tag to turn on tethering and set it to USB rather than bluetooth. Is there any way this can be done?

Posted via CB10

I'm using NFC to securely sign into all my online accounts :)

My startup is BlackBerry proud and we've developed a BB10 (and BB7) solution that allows you to tap your BlackBerry to an NFC ID and be automatically logged-in on your paired laptop/desktop.

It allows you to use strong (e.g., 100 character) and unique passwords everywhere with a simple tap to sign-in.

We're also working on some cool features such as automatically generating new passwords and changing them for you each time you login to an online account :)

We're working hard on a Kickstarter campaign right now and need some #TeamBlackBerry help! Check us out!



Recently purchased NTAG203 tags from OverAir Proximity Technologies (Ontario, Canada based company). Despite the confirmation that this type of tag works with BB10 (using a Z10, O.S, my phone will not encode the tag. When it is prompted to tap the tag, it does not recognize the tag

suggestions or help?


Is it possible to combine smart tag actions and other actions?
Let's say one wants to:
1 - activate bluetooth
2 - activate Normal notification
3 - open a web page (traffic for example)

Also it seems it is not possible to save smart triggers actions