How does the NFC antenna size affect the reading distance?

Do larger NFC transponders have greater reading distances?

26. July 2021
Is the reading distance of larger NFC tags greater than regular tags? Do they work faster? Which smaller NFC tag works well with regular NFC readers and mobile devices? In this article, you will learn about how the antenna size affects the operation of NFC chips. 

NFC transponders come in a variety of sizes and shapes. The transponder dimension is adapted to the defined antenna sizes. The most common antenna sizes are from 19 x 12 mm to 76 x 45 mm. For special applications, there are even smaller and larger antennas available, but such applications usually require special equipment and are not suitable for mass applications.  

When tested with common NFC readers, we found that the reading distance for NFC tags with diameters smaller than 25 mm slowly decreases and they have to be precisely positioned near the reader antenna. This could become complicated because different devices have the NFC reader in different places. You may discover the position of the NFC readers on some NFC devices here:

The 20 mm diameter NFC stickers usually have an antenna size with a reading distance almost to the touch. You may use such a tag to discover the NFC detection area on your device. Stickers smaller than 20 mm are hard to read with common NFC devices, and many of them cannot read it at all.

If you have an application that requires small NFC transponders, we recommend using a Syris RD300-H1 reader or an PC-SC reader/writer ACR1252U that can even read tags with a 13 mm diameter.
Our biggest NFC sticker has an antenna dimension 76 x 45 mm and the reading distance with a mobile phone is approximately 5 cm. Bigger stickers are easier to use because they contain a larger antenna and the NFC signal covers a larger NFC detection area. It does not mean that the reading distance is significantly higher, but they do not require to be positioned as precisely on a reader as smaller ones do.
NFC transponders with a larger antenna than 76 x 45 mm have proven to be unreliable in practice, as they work poorly with some mobile phones and other readers with a smaller antenna. The most reliable NFC transponders have an antenna size between 25 mm and 76x45 mm. 
Reading test of small and big NFC tags

The reading distance between the NFC tag and the reader is affected by many different factors:

-    The quality of the reader and the tags.
-    The interferences of metal and electromagnetic signals (desktop reader are not made for use on metallic tables and other basis)
-    The distance defined by the chip manufacturers 
-    The size of the RFID tag antennas. 

Below you can see the reading distances for different kinds of NFC tags with different NFC readers. This is not an official test, but it was made to inform you what reading distances you may expect with your application.
NFC tag  Syris RD300-H1 Samsung Galaxy S10+
NFC sticker dimension 86x54 mm 8,5 cm 6 cm
NFC sticker dimension 35 mm 5,5 cm 4 cm
NFC sticker dimension 25 mm 4 cm 3 cm
NFC sticker dimension 19x12 mm 2 cm 1 cm
NFC disc diameter 13 mm 2 cm at touch

Do you need some help choosing the right NFC tags and readers?

As you can see, the field of NFC transponders is very extensive and complex, and
if you need help choosing the right one, please describe your application and we will help you. 

If you have any questions send an email to or call +38641 884 124 and we will be happy to help you.
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