How to Select the Right NFC Tag

To select the right NFC tag for your end-use, you should take into account the required:

1. Tag Size

The physical size of the NFC inlay might significantly affect its performance in the end-use. It’s important to select the right-sized product for each specific application, neither too small nor too large. Testing different tag sizes in the actual end-use environment usually gives the best reference for project planning.

2. Tag Capacity/ Memory Size

Memory size should also be comparable to the requirements of the solution, not too large or too small. If the aim is to encode a simple 126-character web-link in the tag, for example, 1152 bits/144 bytes (NXP NTAG203) might easily be sufficient; shorter web links of up to 36 characters might be sufficiently served with 384 bits/48 bytes (NXP Mifare UL). However, if the aim is to make business cards in Vcard format, Mifare 1k remains the best option, as it supports enough fields.

More information about NFC Forum IC types and memory in NFC Forum type 1,2,4.

3. Material Onto Which the Tag Is Applied

One of the great benefits of NFC tags is that they can be embedded inside objects like plastic covers, textiles or wooden elements, and they don’t require a line of sight. However, please make sure that there is a slot/housing reserved for the NFC inlay where it can stay in a dry, flat position without external pressure. Typically in the product design phase, such as for electronics accessories, it would be good to consider where the tag will be placed inside the product to enable the most convenient user experience and ensure optimal product performance.

For example, when there is a metal object near the NFC tag’s antenna, a high-performance magnetic sheet is required in the NFC tag to avoid communication failure. If you need more information or would like to buy ferrite NFC tags, our partners can help you find the ferrite tag solution best suited to your needs.

4. NFC Forum Type (1, 2, 4)

The NFC Forum Type Tag platform is a container for storing NDEF messages, which guarantees co-existence with existing product applications. The NFC Forum Type Tag platform is product independent, though there are compatible products. See The Product (NFC Forum Tag).

The NFC Forum Type Tag Platform shouldn’t be confused with the NFC Forum Type Tag Operation Specifications (see [TYPE 1 TAG, TYPE 2 TAG, TYPE 3 TAG and TYPE 4 TAG]). These four documents describe how an NFC Forum Device operates in the NFC Forum Type 1-4 Tag platform, ensuring that the user experience for the service initiation of, e.g. a Smart Poster, is consistent.

Note: Similar to the NFC Forum Type Tag Platform, NXP has specified an additional Type Tag Platform based on the Mifare Classic family. The NXP-specific Type Tag Platform can store NDEF Messages, guaranteeing co-existence with existing product applications related to the Mifare Classic family products.

The Product (NFC Forum Tag)

Each NFC Forum Type Tag Platform has been built on top of existing products available off-the-shelf. These products are usually contactless tags referred to in NFC Forum terminology as NFC Forum Tags.

Table 1, NFC Forum Type Tag Platforms and related products:

NFC Forum Platform

Compatible Products

1 NFC Forum Type 1 Tag

Broadcom Topaz

2 NFC Forum Type 2 Tag

NXP Mifare Ultralight, NXP Mifare Ultralight C, NXP NTAG203

3 NFC Forum Type 3 Tag

Sony FeliCa

4 NFC Forum Type 4 Tag

NXP DESFire, NXP SmartFX with JCOP or other compatible contactless products

Table 2, Comparison of the different products compatible with the NFC Forum (Type Tag) Platforms

NFC Forum Platform

 

Type 1 Tag

Type 2 Tag

Type 3 Tag

Type 4 Tag

Compatible Products

Broadcom Topaz

NXP Mifare Ultralight, NXP Mifare Ultralight C, NXP NTAG203

Sony FeliCa

NXP DESFire / NXP SmartMX-JCOP

Memory Size

96 Bytes

48 Bytes / 144 Bytes

1, 4, 9 KB

4 KB /32 KB

Unit Price

Low

Low

High

Medium I High

Data Access

Read/Write or Read-Only

Read/Write or Read-Only

Read/Write or Read-Only

Read/Write or Read-Only

Active Content

X

x / x

x

x / P

Operation Specifications

TYPE 1 TAG

TYPE 2 TAG

TYPE 3 TAG

TYPE 4 TAG

NXP Supporting Documents

-

NXP T2T

-

NXP T4T

NXP Product Datasheets

-

NXP UL, NXP ULC, NXP NTAG203

-

NXP DES

To make your selection easier, we have compiled the following table based on SMARTRAC's experiences and tests and successful customer deployments. If you are looking for an all-round NFC tag, the SMARTRAC BullsEye™ is recommended for most end-uses.