What is the difference between NTAG213, NTAG216, and Mifare DESFire?

How should you select the best NFC chip for your application?

04. May 2021
The NFC transponders like NFC stickers, key fobs, tags, discs, cards, labels, and wristbands contain a NFC chip and an antenna inside different kinds of housings.  There are as many as five types of contactless chips which are compatible with NFC protocols and they have their own specific properties. With this article, we will clarify the differences between NFC chips so you will know which is the best for your NFC application. 

When selecting the best NFC chip, you should consider the following factors: 

1. What is the NFC application? Do you require a massive amount of NFC stickers for short period of time, or small amount of NFC stickers that need to work in a harsh environment for a long time?

2. What kind of NFC chip do you require? Are low-cost chips with smaller memory ok or do you require more memory? How much data do you wish to write on the chip? What level of security is required?

3. Will you place it on a metallic surface or very close to other electronics? Do you need an additional on-metal, protective layer?

There are five types of NFC chips, but for mass applications usually use the three main types, the NFC Types 2, 4, and 5.

NFC Type 2 (NFC-A compliant chips) are inexpensive read/write NFC chips compatible with standard ISO/IEC 14443-3A, and beside the unique ID number they contain a memory of 48 to 1904 Bytes.  

The most commonly used NFC Type 2 chip is the NTAG213, which has a 7-byte long UID (the Unique ID encoded by the chip manufacturer) and an EEPROM memory in which a user can store up to 144 bytes of data that is equal to a 136 character-long URL address. 

If the user needs to encode more data, then there are other NTAG chips available, the NTAG215 with 504 byes of EEPROM memory and the NTAG216 with 888 bytes of EEPROM memory, which is enough to store the information of electronic business cards. 

There are some other popular NFC Type 2 Chips like Mifare Ultralight and Mifare Ultralight C, which were very popular for ticketing applications all over the world. The Mifare Ultralight EV1 has a smallest memory and is just 48 Bytes, which means that you can store a 40-character long URL address – which is often not long enough.

The Mifare Ultralight C was designed to be used in contactless ticket applications, and has a sightly bigger memory of 192 Bytes and it supports a 3DES Authentication.
The data retention time for all these chips is 10 years.

Beside the NXP chips, there is also a STMicroelectronics chip ST25TA which has an interesting retention time of 200 years and a lifetime of 1 million cycles. However, our NFC products contain mostly the NXP chips. 

The NFC Type 2 chips are typically used for:
-    Marketing applications (URL records, video links, navigation to destination address, etc.) 
-    Person or product identification
-    Product presentation
-    Bluetooth pairing, Wi-Fi configuration, and more.

The NFC Type 4 (NFC-A, NFC-B compliant chips) are read/write NFC chips compatible with standard ISO/IEC 14443-4A/B. The most commonly used NFC Type 4 chips are NXP Mifare DESFire® chips with a 7-byte long UID (the Unique ID encoded by the chip manufacturer) and an EEPROM memory in which a user can store 2–8 kBytes of data. Mifare DESFire® chips use a 3DES or AES hardware cryptographic engine for confidentiality and integrity protection of the transmission data. They have a 7 byte-long UID, and the data retention time for these chips is 25 years.

The NTAG 424 DNA and 424 DNA TagTamper are the NXP new generation of NFC Type 4 chips which offer state-of-the-art features for security and privacy protection, on attack-resistant certified silicon.

Another NFC Type 4 chip is the MIFARE Plus® EV2, and it is the next generation of NXP’s MIFARE Plus product family which are designed to be both a gateway for new Smart City applications and a compelling upgrade in terms of security and connectivity for existing deployments. 

NFC Type 4 chips are typically used for:
-    Secure access control
-    Public transportation
-    Cashless vending
-    Ticketing.

The NFC Type 5 (NFC-V compliant chips) we often use are NXP ICODE® chips which are compliant to the standards ISO/IEC 15693 and ISO 18000-3M1. These NFC chips allow bigger reading distances (up to 1.5 m with the right equipment), they have 8 byte-long UIDs and a data retention time of 50 years. We usually use the chip ICODE® SLIX or SLIX 2, but there are also ICODE DNA and other ICODE chips available. There are some other NFC Type 5 chips available like the EM4233, EM4327, ST25TV, and more.

NFC Type 5 chips are typically used for:
-    Library
-    Product Authentication
-    Pharmaceuticals
-    Jewellery and luxury goods
-    Cards and secure documents
-    Ticketing
-    Asset tagging.

NFC chip for metallic surfaces

If you place a NFC chip on a metallic surface, the magnetic fluxes will induce eddy currents and they will cause the NFC chip to malfunction. When you need to apply the NFC chips close to a metallics surface, just select any NFC chip you want – but you have to provide the proper protection. Such NFC transponders have to have a special layer made from ferritic material called the ‘on-metal or anti-metal layer.’

If you have any questions send an email to info@rfidspecialist.eu or call +38641 884 124 and we will be happy to help you.
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