Apple iPhone XS NFC

iPhone Xs NFC. Image : Apple

Does the Apple iPhone XS have NFC ?

Yes. This phone normally has NFC functionality available for scanning NFC tags.

Can the iPhone XS scan NFC Tags ?

Yes. The iPhone XS, XS Max and XR are the first generation of iPhones to support native NFC tag reading. This means that the iPhone XS does not need a NFC App to be installed to read NFC tags. The iPhone XS's reading ability is limited to just the main memory section of the tag and at the time of writing, does not support UID scanning. Additionally, like previous generations of the iPhone which could scan NFC tags with an App, the iPhone XS cannot write data to NFC tags. It is not known at the moment whether the iPhone will be allowed to write to NFC tags in the future or it will remain as a read-only device.

Certain previous generations of the iPhone, including the iPhone X, also contained an NFC controller and NFC antenna which gave them 'NFC functionality' and made them NFC enabled. Unlike the new iPhone XS, these previous versions needs to be running at least iOS 11 and, at the time or writing, also needs an NFC App to be installed. Unlike QR Codes, there is currently no native support within the previous iPhones to scan NFC tags.

It is not currently known if there are plans to allow the previous iPhones to read natively without an App. If you own a previous version, then look at How to read NFC Tags with an iPhone.

Can the iPhone XS encode NFC Tags ?

No. While the iPhone is now capable of reading NFC tags, it cannot currently write to or encode NFC tags.

NFC Tags For The Apple iPhone XS

As NFC support for the iPhone XS is new and hasn't been extensively tested, NFC.Today suggest testing tags in location with specific phones before rolling out any campaign or project. A number of minor bugs have been found over time with certain tags on Android and it's quite possible that similar situations will arise with the new iPhone XS. Tread carefully.

At the moment, our site sponsor and tag provider Seritag, is reporting no known issues with the standard NXP NTAG (NTAG210µ, NTAG210, NTAG213) and genuine MIFARE Ultralight® NFC chips. Bear in mind that any NFC tags do need to pre-encoded either by the supplier or with another Android phone before they can be used with the iPhone XS. This is because the iPhone is currently limited to reading only NDEF (standard encoding) data from the main chip memory section. Seritag have also noted that the scan distance of the iPhone XS is slightly less than many Android phones which means that the phone needs to be held closer and with better tag to phone alignment. As a result, in many cases, it would be better to avoid low quality and very small NFC tags (less than 18mm).

The table below illustrates the available NFC tags and their compatibility with your phone. As phone specifications can change without notice and also vary from region to region, we strongly advise testing tags before any purchase.

NFC Chip Compatible Format Required2
NTAG210µYesYes
NTAG210YesYes
NTAG203YesYes
NTAG213YesYes
NTAG215YesYes
NTAG216YesYes
Topaz 512Not testedYes
MIFARE Ultralight® EV1YesMaybe
MIFARE Ultralight®YesYes
MIFARE Classic®No-
ICODE SLIXNot tested-

How Much Memory ?

Depending on what information you need to store on your NFC tags, you will have different memory requirements. NFC Tags have a very limited memory so getting a tag that will store everything you need is important. NFC.Today have put together some information on how much memory you will need in your NFC Tag.

NDEF Formatting

Currently, the Apple iPhone XS can only read NDEF messages stored in the main memory section of the NFC chip. An NDEF message is a small data packet, created in a specific way, that would typically contain a web address or a small section of text. Without the NDEF message, the iPhone would not respond to the tag.

Ultralight EV1 Compatibility

This is a complex formatting issue which affects some phones ability to scan MIFARE Ultralight EV1 chips but not Ultralight chips. In this case, the EV1 NFC chips need to be either NDEF formatted or encoded with data to look like the older generation Ultralight chips. It varies depending on the phone rather than the operating system. If we state 'maybe', we would advise testing first.