NFC chip embedded inside a Samsung smartphone battery

Shown above is an NFC chip embedded inside a Samsung smartphone battery (Photo: iFixit)

A viral message has been rotating on WhatsApp, since a few days, stating that Samsung has set up a conspiracy in stealing the user’s data and automatically uploading it to their servers without the user’s knowledge. The video message shows a person talking about a chip planted by Samsung on all Galaxy smartphones. The person in the video warns people using Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones that their data, especially photos and videos, are being automatically sent to Samsung via a chip embedded inside the smartphone.

The video demonstrates how Samsung has intelligently placed a chip in the battery itself, hidden from the user, to send the data to their servers. The person demonstrating the ‘conspiracy’ by Samsung, in the video, shows the chip placed behind the battery. He peels off the sticker on the battery to reveal the paper-thin chip, provoking people to remove the chip before their data is stolen. He goes ahead to show how to reveal the chip and remove it, stating that removing the chip will not damage the phone or hamper its working in any way. He stated that Samsung has installed the chip in all of their phones in order to steal the user’s data and upload the contents online to make money.

Sadly, the person in the video has been fooling his audience. Either he is unaware that the paper-thin component, he is asking people to remove, is nothing but an NFC (Near Field Communication) antenna, or he is someone forcing people against buying a Samsung smartphone for some reason.

NFC is a feature that is available in most high-end smartphones, and is meant for communicating between two devices.

Near Field Communication is a set of ideas and technology that enables smartphones and other
devices to establish radio communication with each other by touching the devices together or bringing them into proximity to a distance of typically 10 cm (3.9 in) or less. They cannot operate more than 4-inches away. The NFC antenna is placed on the battery on some devices  (especially Samsung’s phones) because it needs to be placed as close as possible to the back of the phone. Placing the antenna behind the battery will not allow NFC to function and Samsung has no other room for  the antenna to be placed. For devices that have a unibody (non-removable rear panel) design, the chip is placed internally. NFC is used for various needs, including pairing, short data transfers and payments. NFC operates in a similar fashion as an RFID chip, the same that is inside an electronic identification card.

This video has been viral for a few days and people falling for the hoax message are opening up their devices and removing the NFC antenna from the battery. Samsung would have no intention of stealing anyone’s data, and even if they did, they could easily embed it on the motherboard itself. The video has also been reported to be going viral on Facebook and emails. If you have received this message or known about the particular videos, we urge you not to believe it.

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