Final Word on Nexus 4 and NFC Tags Compatibility

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hollywoodfrodo

Senior Member
Mar 2, 2011
189
153
Long Beach
I'm the owner of AndyTags.com 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.
 

Agwe23

Member
Jun 30, 2010
32
3
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
 

vivek310

Member
Jan 19, 2010
44
2
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.

,
 

webmaster

Senior Member
Jul 28, 2011
586
36
If I want to place a tag on my router so that guests coming over dont need to ask for the password, will the native NFC app on their phone be able to read the data or do they need a specific app? If their phone will automatically read the tag, how will it be displayed on the device?
 

mrbkkt1

Senior Member
Nov 12, 2007
1,096
105
Mililani
www.lostpowercity.net
I have an n4.
Is there a way to make a tag that any android phone using 4.xxx (I.e. gs3, gn2, n4, gnex) do a check in with Facebook etc?
I bought a few tektiles to play with, but obviously can't write then properly.
Is 140 bytes enough to write a check in on Facebook command?

Sent from my Nexus 4 using Tapatalk 2
 
Last edited:

donec

Senior Member
Aug 21, 2012
696
106
I wonder about security. Say you make a tag for your office, don't lock it and while you are gone someone wants to rewrite the tag to steal your information is this possible? If so is there any way to tell if your tag has been rewritten without reading the tag before using it? Can you read the tag before using it? Do any tags allow security like requiring a pin number to write to them?
 
Last edited:

pedxing

Senior Member
Jun 22, 2010
265
228
Sorry, but my classics are working fine for both read and write. Definitely reading more that just the uid. Make sure your device is on 4.2.1.

Sent from my Nexus 4 using Tapatalk 2
 

mrbkkt1

Senior Member
Nov 12, 2007
1,096
105
Mililani
www.lostpowercity.net
Sorry, but my classics are working fine for both read and write. Definitely reading more that just the uid. Make sure your device is on 4.2.1.

Sent from my Nexus 4 using Tapatalk 2

I am, and I can't write anything to a tektile.

And according to documentation, I'm not supposed to be able to. What NFC app are you using?

Sent from my Nexus 4 using Tapatalk 2
 

krohnjw

Inactive Recognized Developer
Jul 17, 2007
1,987
533
Plainfield
I am, and I can't write anything to a tektile.

And according to documentation, I'm not supposed to be able to. What NFC app are you using?

Sent from my Nexus 4 using Tapatalk 2

It can't write them, period. This shouldn't even be a discussion, it's not capable of reading or writing classics. It wasn't updated in 4.2.1 to support classics.

You *can* pull a UUID from a classic tag. However you cannot write to the physical tag or read regardless if the tag is blank or already formatted NDEF.
 
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pedxing

Senior Member
Jun 22, 2010
265
228
I couldn't write to them either until 4.2.1 was released. But all i own is 10 mifare 1k classics and all but one was blank prior to owning the n4. I've written to 4 others since that time using NFC task launcher.

Sent from my Nexus 4 using Tapatalk 2
 

krohnjw

Inactive Recognized Developer
Jul 17, 2007
1,987
533
Plainfield
I couldn't write to them either until 4.2.1 was released. But all i own is 10 mifare 1k classics and all but one was blank prior to owning the n4. I've written to 4 others since that time using NFC task launcher.

Sent from my Nexus 4 using Tapatalk 2

It's not writing them.

Sent from my Nexus 4 using xda premium
 

pedxing

Senior Member
Jun 22, 2010
265
228
Duuuuude.... what the heck is it doing then? You think I'm lying about this? What possible reason would i have to do that?

Edit: also if you look at the ota package for 4.2.1 you'll see that a couple of NFC related packages and driver files were edited. I haven't bothered to look at the source on git but I'm fairly sure that was the mod they made.


Sent from my Nexus 4 using Tapatalk 2
 
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  • 91
    I'm the owner of AndyTags.com 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.
    1
    I am, and I can't write anything to a tektile.

    And according to documentation, I'm not supposed to be able to. What NFC app are you using?

    Sent from my Nexus 4 using Tapatalk 2

    It can't write them, period. This shouldn't even be a discussion, it's not capable of reading or writing classics. It wasn't updated in 4.2.1 to support classics.

    You *can* pull a UUID from a classic tag. However you cannot write to the physical tag or read regardless if the tag is blank or already formatted NDEF.
    1
    Duuuuude.... what the heck is it doing then? You think I'm lying about this? What possible reason would i have to do that?

    Sent from my Nexus 4 using Tapatalk 2

    I wrote it, it's not writing them :). You aren't lying, it just isn't clear what is happening behind the scenes so to speak.

    It's detecting they can't be written and mapping the actions locally. To allow for cross device portability the payload is also pushed to a cloud service we provide. This way any device can also use that tag.

    The message was a bit misleading for a while (it still said write successful as to not confuse anyone that the tag would still work) but that got updated as well recently to be more clear.

    The update adding this mapping functionality pushed at the same time as the update for Android so there are more than a couple people who have attributed it to the OS update.

    Sent from my Nexus 4 using xda premium
    1
    out of interest, which cloud service is it using?

    We're leveraging our Tagstand Manager service that was set up for managing regular tags via the cloud. This uses that back end with a custom API on the front end for use within the app.
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