The NFC Chip
At the heart of every NFC tag, sticker or product is an NFC ‘chip’ or ‘IC’ (integrated circuit). These tiny electronic devices store your information and control how it can be accessed.
NFC IC Types
Different NFC chips have different sizes of memory and different memory configurations. This affects the amount of information you can store on certain chips but it also affects how the chip can be locked and other very important factors.
Most NFC retailers only stock products containing genuine chips manufactured by NXP Semiconductors and Broadcom. These are market leading, industry standard IC’s. Beware of fake and lower quality NFC chips !
Choosing your NFC IC
There are a variety of different NFC chips including the latest NTAG213, MIFARE Ultralight®, MIFARE® Classic 1K and Topaz 512 chips. The table below should give you some idea of which is best for your needs. For more information on each item, scroll down the page.
Confused ? Let’s keep it simple.
If you are just using an NFC tag to promote a website or other marketing type of link, then buy tags with an NTAG213 chip and remember to lock your tags after they have been encoded. Use an Android phone to encode them or get them encoded by your vendor.
If you aren’t sure which chip is best for your needs, keep reading !
Popular NFC Chips
|Max URL 3
|Best Use||Cost effective chip for short URLs in products (wristbands, keyfobs, etc).||No longer made, this was a popular all-round NFC chip. Replaced with the NTAG213.||Cheap, general NFC use with short URLs. Limited availability.||The most popular NFC chip. Great value and strong Scan-Strength||The ‘one in the middle’. Good memory but limited availability compared to the NTAG216.||Large memory and full feature set. Higher price makes it suitable for vCard and larger memory use only.|
|Universal Comp. 4||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|32 bit Password||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Serial Number 6||7 bytes||7 bytes||7 bytes||7 bytes||7 bytes||7 bytes|
|ScanStrength 8||High||High||High||Very High||High||High|
Other NFC Chips
|Memory Size 1
|User Memory 2
|Max URL 3
|Best Use||Specialist applications requiring encryption only. Poor scan distance with mobile phones.||Legacy applications only. Not recommended for general mobile phone NFC usage.||Specialist applications requiring strong data encryption only.||Universally compatible chip available in only a limited number of products. Useful for vCards or small data storage.|
|Universal Comp. 4||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Serial Number 6||7 bytes||4 or 7 bytes||7 bytes||4 bytes|
- Memory Size : this is the total amount of memory within the chip. Some of this will be one time programmable (OTP), some will be for locking features and so on. Most will be for user read/write.
- User Memory : this is generally the bit that’s important to you. This is the available memory for you to store your data.
3 – URL Length : this is generally the maximum length of URL you can store on this chip, excluding the http:// or http://www parts
- Universal Compatability : Can be used with all current NFC enabled mobile phones.
- NFC Forum Compliant : Compatible with NFC Forum specifications.
- Serial Number : Chip contains a unique serial number for identification purposes. Note that a specific ‘App’ would be required to access this information.
- Cryptography : A security feature on the chip which can help prevent cloning and unauthorised data access. This is a very advanced feature which requires specialist knowledge and is rarely required under regular use.
- ScanStrength : The average ScanStrength of the NFC chip. This is an indication of the relative scanning distances of the chip.
MIFARE, MIFARE Ultralight, MIFARE Classic and MIFARE DESFire are registered trademarks of NXP B.V.