Mifare Classic NFC Tags
What NFC Tags do & don't work with the some newer phones and why?
There can be some confusion about Mifare Classic 1K NFC Tags and their compatibility with many devices. While they were once the only tags available and were compatible with all the NFC phones on the market, that is no longer the case. Many newer phones are NOT compatible with the Mifare Classic tags. This page has the information you need to know.
What current phones are known to NOT be compatible with the Mifare Classic Tags?
- Google Nexus 4, 5, 7 (2013 Version), & 10 - LG G2 G3 - LG Optimus L7 II - Moto X - Samsung Galaxy Ace 3, Express 2, Mega, Note 3, S4, S5 - HTC One M8 (If you are unsure if your phone is compatible, check with your manufacture. Only phones that have NXP brand of NFC hardware will be fully compatible with Mifare Classic Tags.)
- The simple solution to this issue is just use Universally Compatible NFC Tags. NTAG203 and Topaz 512 Tags are fully compatible with ALL NFC Phones. Also NTAG213, NTAG215, and NTAG216 are some of the newest tags to be universally compatible. Most newer NFC Tags are made to work with all phones. Just make sure to do your research before buying and/or contact the seller. CLICK HERE to find NFC Tags on Amazon.
- NXP has been one of the leading manufacturers of NFC hardware and pretty much all Android phones up to a certain point used NXP hardware. The NFC Forum was established to create protocols for NFC so that any hardware and any microchip (NFC Tag) that adheres to this protocol will be compatible. NXP created the Mifare Classic 1K Chip specifically to be compatible with it's hardware and not necessarily to adhere to the protocols. While these chips are compatible with NXP hardware which covers many of the NFC equipped phones and tablets on the market, the chips are not necessarily compatible with any phone that uses other manufacturer's hardware. Many newer phones such as the Galaxy S4 S5, LG G2, and others a different manufacturer's NFC hardware (Broadcom) was used. Because of this only chips which adhere to the NFC Forum's Protocols are completely compatible meaning the Mifare Classic chips are NOT. The only info the Broadcom NFC hardware can read off a Mifare Classic Chip is the UID# (kind of like a UPC code for NFC Tags). It can not write to them at all and can not read anything else that has been written to them.
What NFC Tags are fully compatible with the Nexus 4 &10, Galaxy S4, Moto X and other phones/tablets that don't have NXP hardware?
- Any NFC tag that complies with the NFC Forum's protocol will be compatible with these devices and there are plenty of them! They just tend to be more expensive for the amount of memory you get. The most popular NFC Forum tag right now is the NTAG203. These tags have about 137 bytes of usable memory. Topaz 512 Tags, while costing a little more, triple the memory to about 450 bytes. While much less than the 700 bytes found on the 1K Mifare Classic tag, this is more than enough for most apps which only record a small amount of info on a tag that ties the tag to the specific app and then allows the app to store the various settings and events. NTAG203 Tags should be fine for most tasks triggering apps and Topaz 512 Tags have plenty of memory for full electronic business card info. Newer NTAG's that are also universally compatible in various memory sizes are NTAG213, NTAG215, and NTAG216 though they are a little more expensive and not quite as readily available at the moment. At AndyTags we refer to these as "Universal" NFC Tags because they are universally compatible with ALL NFC devices.
- MAYBE. While Mifare Classic Chips can not be written to or read by the Nexus 4 or 10, their UID (a unique identification code) can POSSIBLY be detected and read. So you can try using your Mifare Classic tags with an app such as AutomateIt or ReTag which simply uses a tag's UID to trigger events/settings saved on the device. However, some newer devices even though they can read the UID, they detect that it's an incompatible tag and will disrupt the UID reading. The down side to using tags this way is that because the tag can not be written to, if you have more than one of these types of NFC apps on your phone, tapping the tag will bring up a box to ask you what app you want to use which defeats the purpose of NFC automation. If you already own Mifare Classic tags you could try using them with UID reading apps, but if you are buying tags, don't buy Mifare Classic tags if your phone is not fully compatible with them.
Can I use another phone to write something to a Mifare Classic Tag then use a non-NXP Hardware phone to read it?
- No. These devices will ONLY be able to read a Mifare Classic Tag's UID code. They will NOT be able to read any other information on the tag.
- If you plan to use tags to store and share your website address, business card info, Facebook page address, Twitter feed address, or anything where you want anyone and everyone to be able to tap and read the tag, then you'll probably want to go with the NTAG203 or Topaz 512 NFC Tags since they are compatible with all NFC enabled phones and you would want anyone with any NFC enabled phone to be able to read them.
- If you're using tags for your own personal use only (to launch apps, change settings, etc.) then you can really use any tags you want. You can stick to Mifare Classic (if your phone is compatible with them) or mix in some of the other tags just for color/look variations.
- If you plan on upgrading your device and want to make sure your tags will be compatible with your next device. Although they are fairly inexpensive so you can always buy more later if you need them.
- If you're using the Samsung Tectile App - you definitely DO NOT want to use NTAG203 or Topaz 512 tags. The Samsung Tectile app is an NFC Memory hogger and there is not enough memory on the NTAG203 chips for use with that app.
- Many NFC apps, including NFC Smart Q will let you know how much memory is needed for a tag you're creating. You can download these apps and create tags (without actually having tags) to see how much memory you need for things you want to do.
See our About NFC Tags info page for more general information about NFC Tags.
For those who rather watch than read, here are a couple of videos that explain the compatibility issue.