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Apple wants smaller SIM cards for thinner gadgets

iPad 2

By Reuters

Posted on 18 May 2011 at 08:47

Apple is looking to take SIM cards even smaller than the micro SIM it uses in the iPad and iPhone 4.

The tech giant has proposed a smaller standardised SIM card so it can make even thinner devices, an Orange executive said.

The move by Apple to work with operators is symptomatic of warming relations as Apple depends on mobile operator subsidies to help it maintain high volumes of iPhone sales.

It's certainly showing that they're willing to work with the standardisation bodies and with the operators, which we welcome

A spokesman for the European telecoms standards body (ETSI) confirmed Apple had made the proposal for the new standard for SIM cards, but decision on starting the standardisation work was not yet made.

"This process may take some time, up to a year or more, if there is strong disagreement between industry players. However, when there is broad consensus among the companies participating in the standards committee, the process can be accelerated to a number of months," he said.

Mobile backing

Orange said it, and other operators, welcomed the move.

"We were quite happy to see last week that Apple has submitted a new requirement to ETSI for a smaller SIM form factor - smaller than the one that goes in iPhone 4 and iPad," said Anne Bouverot, Orange's head of mobile services.

"They have done that through the standardisation route, through ETSI, with the sponsorship of some major mobile operators, Orange being one of them," she told the Paris leg of the Reuters Global Technology Summit.

Bouverot said: "As long as it supports the requirements that we have for the SIM card, which is a very important asset for operators, which we absolutely want to continue to support, then we're happy that this is a development."

"It's certainly showing that they're willing to work with the standardisation bodies and with the operators, which we welcome," Bouverot added. "We're discussing how to improve our relationship."

She said first devices using such SIM cards could come out next year. If the smaller SIMs become standardised, other phone makers are also likely to adopt them.

"At some point other vendors will follow as size and weight will be crucial for smartphones," said analyst Francisco Jeronimo of research firm IDC.

Apple was not immediately available for comment.

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User comments

There was speculation a while back about Apple doing away with a separate SIM altogether, with the network registration handled thorugh software/firmware. I wonder if that will come to fruition.

By flyingbadger on 18 May 2011

I agree with flyingbadger there, eventually we will have this, at the moment all we do is move the SIM to a different phone to keep the number, operators don't stop us ringing up and moving our number to a different SIM if we want to. All we need to know is that long number printed on the SIM, the future will see the need for SIM cards disappear!

By njpugh90 on 18 May 2011

Not wanting to sound too cynical, wasn't the reason for Apple changing to the MicroSIM format was so they could enforce another form of loose control over the end user, especially over those not in the know - "Oh so I need a special type of SIM card for my iPad then? And the iPad data plans are rolling contract...", Im sure lots of people think this.
Rolling contracts are just another way of slowly draining more money from peoples pockets as its too much of a pain to cancel then rejoin if you dont need 3G for, say, a month or two with your iPad.
I have a sim in my iPad that is not rolling contract, and was adapted from a normal SIM with the special technique of using a pair of scissors! Really.
I'm finding it quite unlikely that the SIM form factor is limiting in any way given current technological limits when it comes to designing handsets shape and size.
Sure there is a lot of tight squeezing-in of components going on right now, but surely the screen is way more significant.
I'm curious as to what they are going to propose- not as wide or long, or not as thick!? Its only a sliver as it is.

By Heliosphan on 18 May 2011


Couldn't agree more. The networks go along with the mini sim because they can squeeze I.owners a bit more because of the apple lust factor. Eg. I have a galaxy tab, my brother has an ipad. Sim for my tab, 30 day contact 2gb a month for a fiver. Equivalent with apple similar, £7.50 a month for 1gb. That's a 200% price hike!

By sihaz2 on 18 May 2011

PS sim from 3 in both cases

By sihaz2 on 18 May 2011

Its going to just be another way to control the market.

Especially if it isn't BC like the current standards.

By tech3475 on 18 May 2011


I can only agree.
An iPhone is vastly bigger than a standard sim let alone a mini-sim. As an end user I wouldn't really notice if my phone was 3 cubic mm smaller. I would also find a micro sim pretty much impossible to handle. If they want to make the phone smaller, they could always use a micro USB connector instead of their proprietary USB plug.

By tirons1 on 18 May 2011


Aren't phones much thicker than standard SIMs anyway? What difference will a smaller SIM card make? Sounds like a lot air as usual from uncle Steve.

By everton2004 on 18 May 2011

I've got a sneaking suspicion that what Apple is planning is to alter the dimensions, notably the thickness, so that people cannot simply alter existing SIMs to fit the new slot.

By Firhill on 18 May 2011

Apple History

Most likely this is to do with Apple keeping users using Apple.
Apple's Flash argument has been exposed as exactly this - the web uses Flash to present the adverts that you see on this page, but at the same time as Apple banned Flash from iPhone and iPad, it introduced a new dynamic advertisement standard (iAd? something like that) and of course Apple get a 30% cut in revenues.
I'm all for innovation, but innovation that benefits me. Why do people let them get away with it?

By hminney on 19 May 2011


Nail. Head. Wallop!

By PaleRider on 19 May 2011

Nail. Thumb. Wallop

As a matter of fact, a number of the animated adverts on this page DO show up on iOS. The only ones that don't are the incredibly annoying full video, battery-draining flash ones. And that's absolutely fine by me.

By Throbinevans on 19 May 2011

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