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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  • Davidjan - Saturday, April 27, 2013 - link

    It is perfect to use GS4 with this to add extenal storage!!!
  • SirKronan - Saturday, April 27, 2013 - link

    Hmmm... Apple introduces new iPhone and a new port. Old chargers are now incompatible.

    Samsung releases new Galaxy phone. Old NFC tags are now incompatible.

    Just wanted to draw that disappointing parallel, though I reckon it's fairly obvious to all. This is disappointing. Even though we're not talking a lot of money here, ($11 or more for 5 tiles) I would still be a little upset had I invested in Samsung's TecTiles only to find them non-functional as I continue to support Samsung by upgrading to their latest flagship S4 phone.
  • thexile - Saturday, April 27, 2013 - link

    How many invested in TecTile compare to number of iApple users?
  • Martuv93 - Saturday, April 27, 2013 - link

    Maybe this is just me, but I think that's a ridiculous parallel to make. This is Samsung moving from a proprietary nfc tag version (from MIFARE) to a standard version. With Apple, you moved from a proprietary connector to another proprietary connector.
    Not only that, but you're also comparing something millions of people use every day (the charger) and that a huge battery of accessories relied on (some costing several hundreds of dollars) to some NFC tags which costs like 10 bucks for a packet of multiple stickers, and that next to no one (compared to the number of people using the Lightning connector) uses.
  • jarekt - Saturday, April 27, 2013 - link

    That's true. But there's also another point of view. Apple had one standard for years (like 10 or something) and how long lasted TecTiles standard? During last 10 years Samsung had more than 40 different types of connectors. It's all about consequence. Just saying...
  • SirKronan - Sunday, April 28, 2013 - link

    So why didn't they just use the more compatible ones in the first place then? And it only seems ridiculous if you read too much into it, which I can see most have. To clarify, I own an S3. And basically, if I had already placed a bunch of tiles around my house/car/etc. and then decided to upgrade to the S4, I would have the annoying task of replacing them. It's not a big deal, just annoying, and unnecessary, like Apple's proprietary adapters are in the first place!
  • Roffles12 - Saturday, April 27, 2013 - link

    If you're spending $600 on a luxury item such as a GS4 (maybe hundreds more depending on the model, region and taxes) less than a year after buying your GS3+NFC tags, I don't think spending $15 on new set of NFC tags is going to be much of a bother. It would be like ordering a $100 Kobe Filet and taking issue with the $10 salad that comes with it.
  • darwinosx - Saturday, April 27, 2013 - link

    That is a ridiculous comparison. First these two things have nothing to do with each other. Second Apple used the same connector for 10 years before upgrading it to a far better and more modern solution. Third the lightning connector does many things micro usb does not do. Fourth Samsungs new charge is proprietary if you want fast charging..
  • Spunjji - Thursday, May 2, 2013 - link

    I like how everyone else is saying this is silly because of the scale being discussed, and you're saying it's silly because it was mean to Apple. Very cute.
  • MobiusStrip - Monday, May 13, 2013 - link

    "Far better and more modern"? You obviously have not read up on this POS. It has no audio line out. Its video output is heavily compressed, artifact-riddled garbage of LOWER resolution than the old dock connector's. And I wouldn't be surprised if the audio stream (which of course you need yet another bulky dongle to decode) were compressed also.

    There's little doubt that Apple DID need a more modern and flexible port. But they spectacularly failed to deliver one.

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