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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  • wifiwolf - Tuesday, April 30, 2013 - link

    Exactly. It's good that he is aware about scripts but you should do some filtering. not just enable or disable because most pages use javascript and the trend is upwards. Any dynamic web page uses js atm
  • SirKronan - Sunday, April 28, 2013 - link

    I was very clear about the parallel I was trying to draw. Don't read to much into it. Just like I would be frustrated that some of my old chargers no longer work, I would also be frustrated that all those TecTiles I bought and placed around my house/car/etc. don't work. Also note I said "would be". I own an S3 and love it, but thankfully haven't invested any effort into TecTiles. I was planning on it, but just haven't gotten around to it yet.

    Since they came out with a new version, I suppose that's a blessing.

    Just remember, the only parallel I was drawing was that in a short time the standard has changed for at least some who have invested in a now "old" standard that really isn't even old at all yet!!
  • nerdstalker - Sunday, April 28, 2013 - link

    I think this shows the lack of transparency and information at Samsung side. And I have a feeling it is done deliberately. Apple customers were all informed since Day 1 about the new Lightning connectors and their incompatibility with older devices. Samsung chooses not to mention anything about TecTile 2 unless a columnist like Brian digs deeper and finds out. Also the wording "announced" in the title is a little misleading because I fail to see a public "announcement" done. There is only a "statement" made to Brian. Dishonest Samsung is dishonest, as always...
  • Solandri - Sunday, April 28, 2013 - link

    While I agree it's disappointing Samsung didn't make an attempt at backwards compatibility, the fact remains that it was the initial release of new technology. Early adopters always risk their investment becoming obsolete when the next generation rolls out, especially if it's something implemented before the tech becomes standardized. The Japanese spent billions of dollars developing and testing an analog HDTV standard during the 1970s and 1980s. All of it became obsolete almost overnight in the 1990s when processors got fast enough to compress/decompress digital HDTV signals in real-time.

    While Apple's case was a long-established (if proprietary) standard, I'm willing to cut them some slack. Their connector had been around for nearly a decade, so it wasn't surprising to see it updated to take advantage of technological progress over that decade. While it's possible to breathe new life into an old standard to extend its life (e.g. IDE -> EIDE -> ATA/33 -> ATA/66 -> ATA/100 -> ATA/133), at some point it just becomes obsolete enough that you're better off completely replacing it with a better, incompatible standard (PATA -> SATA). The only criticism I have of Apple's connector update is that they're still refusing to adopt the universal micro-USB charging standard.
  • Sunsmasher - Sunday, April 28, 2013 - link

    Much ado about nothing....
  • SirKronan - Sunday, April 28, 2013 - link

    Basically true. They're only $15 a set after all.
  • BoRadley - Sunday, April 28, 2013 - link

    I agree. Not sure where the lightning connector came in. Lets be thankful they didn't bring up the narrow gauge rail system, that old chestnut is best left buried.
  • Alvar - Monday, April 29, 2013 - link

    6 Reasons to get the Samsung Galaxy S4...

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