The state of Pixel global NFC support 2023

It’s that time of year again. The new Pixel devices for 2023 are out. Do they deliver Global NFC, or do we have more of the same mess? Short answer: we have more of the same mess…that may become an embarrassing situation for Google. The stupidest part is that Google still pretends that ‘Pixel 3 and later smartphones purchased in Japan have a FeliCa chip in the same place as the NFC chip‘ spec. As pointed out many times, this is deep fake: the FeliCa chip fantasy is long dead and gone. All Pixel smartphones have the same Android Ready SE Alliance secure element and NFC hardware with Mobile FeliCa pre-installed, Google kneecaps Mobile FeliCa software on non-JP SKUs.

Google will have to change this when Hong Kong Octopus card lands in Google Wallet later this year for Pixel smartphones and Pixel Watch:

When this happens however, Google will be forced to change things. It will come down to 2 choices:

  1. Google updates all Pixel 4 and later • Pixel Watch 1 and later for global NFC so that all users can add Suica, PASMO, Octopus to any device, similar to what iPhone and Apple Watch have had since 2017. No more kneecapping.
  2. Google updates some Pixel 4 and later • Pixel Watch 1 and later for global NFC so that all Hong Kong and Japanese region users can add Octopus, Suica, PASMO, etc. More kneecapping, more complicated and convoluted than ever.

If Google goes with the second choice, it will be very awkward for sure: currently there are no Hong Kong Pixel SKUs to region lock. So…do they release Hong Kong SKUs? Do they geofence? Do they Google Account region lock or some other stupid shit? And so on.

The FeliCa chip myth is dead but Google may have do some clever marketing spin to hide users from the fact that some Pixel people have devices that work seamlessly with all NFC modes (Japan and Hong Kong), while all other Pixel people have kneecapped devices that don’t.

But maybe it’s all simpler than that. If Octopus Google Pay is only for WearOS, it would mean that Samsung can sell an Octopus ready Hong Kong Galaxy Watch 6 model that goes with Octopus ready Hong Kong Samsung Galaxy. In other words, the same old region locking nonsense we’ve had all along…and no Pixel anything for Hong Kong.