In our part 1 review of the Samsung Galaxy S 4 (SGS4) I noted that the device included a BCM2079x NFC controller. This is the same controller as we’ve seen in a number of other phones, including the Nexus 4, and is emerging as a popular second to the relatively ubiquitous NXP PN544 controller.

When I saw the presence of BCM2079x, I remembered that this reader doesn’t read MIFARE tags, which the NXP solution does, since it is an NXP tag format. Instead Broadcom only reads tags which adhere to the standard NFC Forum tag types. Ordinarily this isn’t much of a problem, as long as users are aware of the limitation and to stay away from MIFARE classic tags on an incompatible reader. What’s interesting here is that Samsung’s TecTiles were themselves originally MIFARE Classic 1k tags, which makes them not compatible with the new SGS4. I then confirmed that the SGS4 does in fact not read my existing TecTiles which I’ve setup around the house.

 
Reading a Samsung TecTile on SGS4 (Left), Checking TecTile tag type on another device (Right)

I reached out to Samsung, who issued a statement about TecTile compatibility on the SGS4 by announcing TecTile 2, which ostensibly carries a different tag inside compatible with the SGS4.

"Samsung is introducing TecTile 2, an update to the original TecTile NFC programmable tags, which will be available in the coming weeks. TecTile 2 will use the current NFC technology on the market, allowing Samsung customers to further incorporate NFC into their daily lives and to use with the latest Samsung Mobile products and services, including the Galaxy S 4. As industry standards continue to evolve, Samsung remains committed to meeting those standards and adapting its technologies if necessary. Samsung customers can also fully utilize TecTiles 2 with existing Samsung Mobile NFC-enabled Android smartphones currently in market."

Interestingly enough some newer generation TecTiles not marked as TecTile 2 seem to have already made their way out onto the market. Several users replied on twitter that they’ve seen TecTiles which identify as an NFC Forum Type 4 tag instead of the MIFARE 1k tag, with a visually different appearance as well. If you’ve already got TecTiles that aren’t MIFARE, it seems that you’re in luck, otherwise if you’re upgrading to an SGS4 from another Samsung device and made use of TecTiles, it’s likely you’ll have to replace your NFC tags.

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  • MobiusStrip - Monday, May 13, 2013 - link

    Except Apple's new dock connector is a degraded, ill-conceived fiasco that is technically worse than its predecessor. Reply
  • risa2000 - Saturday, April 27, 2013 - link

    I may only speculate, but I would guess that S3 will read new TecTile 2 tags without problem. So the only party which will suffer (a bit) are those who bought original TecTile tags and meanwhile moved to new S4.

    Using MIFARE tags for this was just an oversight on Samsung part (or good lobbying on NXP part).
    Reply
  • SirKronan - Sunday, April 28, 2013 - link

    Good point. Why didn't they just go with the standard, more compatible style in the FIRST place? Reply
  • knirfie - Wednesday, May 01, 2013 - link

    MiFare (classic) is the more standard style, it's one of the most widely used RFID tags.

    It is in fact really strange that the broadcom chip does not read the MiFare chips, as MiFare is based on ISO/IEC 14443 (NXP was actually one of the leading companies in defining this specification as well as NFC).
    NFC is much newer but it is largely based on ISO/IEC 14443 and all NFC readers should be fully compatible with all ISO/IEC 14443 tags (ISO/IEC 14443 readers are not necessarily compatible with NFC devices/tags).
    Reply
  • AbRASiON - Thursday, May 02, 2013 - link

    The whole thing is a stupid bloody mess. I need to replace 25$ worth of tags now due to this. Reply
  • risa2000 - Saturday, May 04, 2013 - link

    MIFARE Classic is as long standard as you have NXP chips, preferebly on both sides, but definitely on reader side. While MIFARE actually uses (some parts and extends the others of) ISO 14443 for lower layer spec, on protocol and application level it is NXP proprietary and requires NXP blessing, which usually comes as NXP chip. Reply
  • Friendly0Fire - Saturday, April 27, 2013 - link

    TecTile is neither a standard, nor *necessary* for the usage of the device. If you want to use your iStuff dock with your new iPhone, you *need* an adapter (which probably will mess up your dock) or a new dock.

    Drawing a comparison between the two is utterly absurd.
    Reply
  • Friendly0Fire - Saturday, April 27, 2013 - link

    And that's what I get for using NoScript. This was supposed to be a reply to jarekt. Reply
  • Tegeril - Saturday, April 27, 2013 - link

    Browsing the Internet without JavaScript these days blows my mind. Reply
  • Friendly0Fire - Saturday, April 27, 2013 - link

    NoScript != no Javascript. The difference is that *I* get to pick what Javascript gets executed, so I can block trackers, facebook, Twitter and whatever else I don't want. Reply

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