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Final Word on Nexus 4 and NFC Tags Compatibility

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By hollywoodfrodo, Senior Member on 10th December 2012, 10:16 PM
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I'm the owner of and my sole business is selling NFC Tags so you can imagine how thrilled I was when a customer contacted me shortly after the Nexus 4 came out to let me know his tags didn't work with his phone. To make things even more fun, a few days later another customer contacted me to say he had just gotten the Nexus 4 and was worried that his tags wouldn't work, but they did. So I began a lot of research, and along with a fellow Android fan who owns a Nexus 4 conducted extensive testing to get the final word on compatibility. There's a lot of confusing info out there so I thought I'd share these facts with you guys to make it simple so you could buy the correct NFC Tags for your new groovy Nexus 4.

The Nexus 4 & 10 are NOT compatible with Mifare Classic tags because Mifare Classic tags do NOT adhere to the NFC Forum's Standards. They can not write to the tags nor can they read information that someone else has written to the tags. However, they can detect the UID Code (kinda like a UPC code) of a tag which is unique to every tag. So, if you use an app like NFC ReTag or NFC Task Launcher which has the ability to just detect a tag and read it's UID code, and then launch settings/profiles/etc then you can still use Mifare Classic tags with the Nexus 4 & 10. This is why some people keep saying they are compatible. Just remember, technically they are NOT compatible - the phone can just read the UID code off of the tag.

What kind of tags DO work with the Nexus 4 & 10? Any tags that do adhere to the NFC Forum's standards. The most popular of which is the NTAG203. Unlike the 1K Mifare Classic which has 700 bytes of usable memory and is fairly inexpensive, the NTAG203 tags have about 140 bytes of usable memory and are slightly more expensive in general. However, 140 bytes is plenty of memory for most settings/tasks launching NFC Apps. Many apps, such as NFC Smart Q, allow you to create tasks and see how much memory is needed even without having tags so you can do that before ordering tags to make sure it's enough. The only things that it might not be enough for are vCards or if for some reason you want to program a really long text string to a tag (like more than 130 characters); but since most of us want to use tags to automate things, 140 bytes is enough for that.

What problems might you encounter using Mifare Classic tags to trigger events using the tag's UID? If you only use one app that detects a "blank" tag (Mifare Classic's are seen as blank by the Nexus 4/10) and read's its UID code and triggers a set of rules/settings/tasks based on that then you shouldn't have any problems at all! However, if you have more than one app that detects blank tags, then anytime you tap a Mifare Classic tag, you'll get a pop-up box asking you which app you want to use to execute the action which defeats the purpose of automation.

What is the deal anyway? Why don't the Mifare Classic tags work with the Nexus 4/10 like they do with all other Android phones? Basically, NXP is one of the leading manufacturers of NFC products. They not only manufactured the NFC hardware built into pretty much every Android phone out there up to this point, but also manufactured most of the popular NFC Tags in use. At some point they designed the Mifare Classic NFC Chips and designed them specifically to be compatible with their NXP hardware, but did not design them according to the NFC Forum standards which meant they wouldn't necessarily be compatible with all NFC hardware by other companies. Since pretty much all Android phones used the NXP NFC hardware, this wasn't really an issue and still isn't for most people. However, either Google, LG, Samsung or all three decided to use another company's (Broadcom) hardware in the Nexus 4/10. While any NFC Tags made by any company that adhere to the NFC Forum's protocols will work fine, because the Mifare Classic does not meet those criteria it is not compatible with the Nexus 4/10.
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10th December 2012, 10:44 PM |#2  
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Great info. Thanks.
10th December 2012, 10:50 PM |#3  
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The kind of post intended to be on xda. Great information and very helpful!

Sent from my Nexus 4 using Tapatalk 2
11th December 2012, 01:11 AM |#4  
[hfm]'s Avatar
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Thanks for this. Just bought some more tags to replace the old mifare.
11th December 2012, 02:49 AM |#5  
sporez's Avatar
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Excellent post, and information! Thank you!
11th December 2012, 09:01 AM |#6  
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Hopefully this will push the industry towards fully NFC standards compliant tags, rather than Mifare classic.
11th December 2012, 02:30 PM |#7  
Number R09's Avatar
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Thanks for the information. Just placed an order for the ntag203. Looking forward to trying them out.

Sent from my Nexus 7 using XDA Premium HD app
12th December 2012, 03:02 AM |#8  
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Thank you for the useful information and I just ordered a 20 pack for shipping to the Philippines.

Sent from my GT-P7300 using xda app-developers app
12th December 2012, 07:49 AM |#9  
Thanks Meter: 3
Thanks - This is terrific information. I already have a Nexus 7 and a nexus 4 is on the way.

Have few questions. Would appreciate your inputs:

1) Do you ship to international addresses? What do you charge for the shipping?
2) Will be using the NFC tags for lots of automation - for ex: turning off WiFi while leaving, enabling BT when getting in the car etc. Are these functions pre-programmed in tags you sell?
3) If I want to customize functionality, what kind of hardware would I additionally require?
4) Do you sell blank NFC tags so that I can program tags as I wish?
5) Costs - how much per tag and how much for the NFC reader / writer?

I haven't visited your site yet (as It's blocked at work), so apologies if this information is already available on the site.

12th December 2012, 09:01 AM |#10  
Harry Pothead's Avatar
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your nexus 4 will be your nfc reader/writer, no additional hardware required. There are apps to program these tags

Sent from my HTC Desire using xda app-developers app
13th December 2012, 06:35 AM |#11  
Thanks Meter: 3
Awesome. Thanks!

managed to browse through the site as well, and got most of the information I wanted., If my nexus 4 came along...
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