back to article Apple proposes even tinier SIMs for future iPhones, iPads

Apple has proposed an even tinier SIM format to the European standards body ETSI. The standard will take a year or two to be agreed, so don't expect super-titchy SIMs immediately or even in the next iPhone. But if adopted it will mean the SIM taking up less space in the phone. Smaller SIMs would leave more space for other …


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  1. Dave Fox

    Hey Apple! Leave my SIMs alone! :)

    I travel a lot for work - and when I travel, I often have a local SIM that I can simply pop into my phone without having to worry about excessive data roaming charges. For voice, I usually forward my mobile number to my Vonage line which can then "simulring" my foreign SIM, thus saving me vast amounts of money.

    SIM cards are great! They are small enough to be easily transportable (I have about 10 in my wallet at the moment) and large enough to be easy to handle. I'll never have an iPhone 4 for a variety of reasons (I did buy my wife one though), but one of which is that it is almost impossible to get hold of prepaid microSIMs in the various countries I regularly visit.

    So, I see no benefit to the microSIM as is, and a smaller one even less so. As to dumping the SIM entirely, and letting someone like Apple control my network via something like iTunes - absolutely no way!

    1. rpjs


      <i>it is almost impossible to get hold of prepaid microSIMs in the various countries I regularly visit.</i>

      So get a SIM cutter.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Never a Title

      I'd have thought just selecting the SIM on your phone rather than having to physically carry all those SIMs around would be easier for you. Presumably with a software SIM, and it wouldn't have to be on an iPhone, you could just download all the SIMs you wanted before you went anywhere. I'm sure they could also design a dynamic system that selects the best SIM for wherever you are at the time. Obviously the operators wouldn't like that but I can only see advantages for a software SIM (perhaps even stored in the cloud)

      1. The Fuzzy Wotnot

        Whoa there!

        That sort of common sense will get you in trouble my friend!

        Now go stand in the corner to think about what you've said!

      2. Dave Fox

        Nice try!

        Software SIMs - great until you lose your phone, or want to pop your SIM in another device because perhaps say, you run out of battery. How am I supposed to get onto the cloud in the first place to retrieve my "SIM"s in those situations?

      3. Anonymous Coward

        @ AC Posted Wednesday 18th May 2011 15:26 GMT

        I should really report that post for being offensive.......

        well at least offensive to network service providers.

    3. Richard Cartledge


      You can cut your sim card into a microsim and they still work in old fashioned phones by way of an adapter or just friction and careful positioning in the holder!

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      All in all it was all just chips in the wall(et)

      Totally agree. They're really not that big! Throw out all the litmus paper instead!

  2. Anonymous Coward

    the next step from apple

    the next step from apple will be for you to be billed for your phone through Itunes then take 30% and hand the rest over to the network provider !!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That's a great plan

      that would improve service quite substantially then.

      I'm fine with anything that fucks mobile companies over.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        @ AC Posted Wednesday 18th May 2011 14:57 GMT

        How exactly would it improve service? service would be provided by exactly the same network provider but with a 30% cut in revenue. until they put the price up to cover the "loss".....

        and the only thing that will get fucked over will be the end user... yet again...

        but apple will still have their cut!

        mines the one with the HTC Desire in the pocket, Its not perfect, but HTC accept the phone belongs to me !!

        1. Anonymous Coward

          That's a good one

          HTC might accept that the phone belongs to you, but I doubt Google feels the same way; unless of course you return their generosity with your data.

    2. ThomH


      I think they already get a share of your subscription costs — that was the deal originally, at any rate. Hopefully competition from Android and others has eaten into that by emboldening networks.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    I wonder why...

    We all know nobody else will adopt it, and the result will be, anyone with a iPhone won't be able to use their SIM in any other phone.

    The Apple lock-in continues. You can't bluetooth anything else but Apple, you can send video to anyone without Apple, you can't talk face-to-face with anyone but Apple. Apple knows where you are at all times...

    What next, an iPhone that only phones other iPhones? If Jobs has his way it will be....

    1. Chris 3

      I really don't understand *why* other's don't adopt it.

      nuff said.

      1. Daniel B.

        Because it isn't needed?

        Even the mini-SIM is fine and dandy for everyone else. The fact that the microSIM was first used on a big-ass device as the iPad shows that the size reduction isn't really a deciding factor on using the smaller-sized SIMs.

        As other commenter has already stated, you can pry my physical SIM out of my cold, dead hands. :)

    2. Cyberspice
      Thumb Down

      I wonder why... you don't do your research!

      "you can't talk face-to-face with anyone but Apple"

      I was talking to someone quite happily using a Skype video call on my iPhone just yesterday. And what's the bollocks you're talking about video.

      Get your facts straight. iPhones have issues but complain about the ones they really have.

  4. Steverh
    Jobs Horns

    More control freakery from Apple?

    Surely not. They only have our best interests at heart.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Jobs Horns

      If so

      Why did they agree to phones locked to a network.

      Why not design the iPhone so it could take two SIMs to give you more choice and functionality

      1. Graham Marsden

        Please make sure...

        ... your Irony Detector is switched on before posting...

  5. Andy E

    Re: I wonder why...

    I have an iPhone 3GS and it bluetooths seamlessly with my Sony bluetooth headphones and my Vodafone handsfree ear piece. Why do you think it is locked to other Apple devices?

    With regards to the Sim card I have only ever had to mess about with them when the kids have broken their phone(s) and we needed to press and old spare into service. Most of the people I know who spend long times on the continent buy a pre-paid local phone. Perhaps I should get out more as I don't know anyone who regularly changes Sim cards.

    I expect that changing the Sim format is unlikely to have any effect on the vast majority of users.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Heres why

      When I get to the end of a contract I pass my phone on to my daughter, if she has an iphone 4 then her sim is useless in the new phone. As previously pointed out, the ability to switch the sim from a bust phone to spare is invaluable, so yes I think you are in the minority. As to the bluetooth issue, reread the post, the OP was referring to file transfers not accessories.

    2. D@v3

      Re: bluetooth compatability.

      To an extent your right, the Iphone bluetooth stack will work quite nicely with any number of audio accessories, (headphones, ear bugs etc..) however, you cant use bluetooth on the phone (even between iphones) for simple file transfer (ie transfering photos / vid clips etc..)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        To be fair to Apple

        There is another company who don't let you bluetooth files to/from their handsets.

        But to be scrupuously fair

        The other company is RIM with the Blackberry handsets and they do it under the mantra of "security" whereas Apple just want to control you with itunes.

        1. Daniel B.

          Re: To be fair to Apple

          "The other company is RIM with the Blackberry handsets and they do it under the mantra of "security""

          Geeze, tell that to my BB9700, and my previous BB8300. I've been sending/receiving files to/from other phones, yes even non-RIM ones for years. The thing with BlackBerries is that you have to Bluetooth-pair the handsets first, then you can send files. Receiving files requires you to fire up the "receive file from bluetooth" option in the Multimedia app, this is probably the "security" feature you mention.

          But unlike iPhones, it can be done with any other phone ... except an iPhone, of course.

        2. Ilgaz

          Must be corporate policy on that handset

          You figure it once you get used to it, RIM made sending files non practical not impossible. You really must do some funny things on menus but it can really send/receive. They just made sure one really, really wants to send that file or recieve it.

          Of coure, I speak about non managed, off the shelf BB, corporate admins may have completely disabled it for obvious security reasons.

    3. Carol Orlowski

      Ever tried

      Bluetoothing messages, pictures or other media?

      Obviously not, as it only works to other iPhones.

      I'm guessing you are one of the idiots sending videos to friends oblivious to the fact nobody can play them, without downloading Apple Quicktime, which of course comes with Apple Itunes.....

      1. ThomH

        @Carol Orlowski

        The bluetooth criticisms are valid, the video criticism isn't. Both the QuickTime container and H.264 video are industry standards, being written into the BluRay spec amongst other things. My Android can play them, most £20 DVD players with USB slots can play them, VLC can play them.

    4. Is it me?

      Good Old Nokia

      You could buy an attachment for your Nokia phone that allowed it to carry two Sims that you could switch between. Great when you had to carry a personal and a work phone.

      My 6310i is still going strong with at least 4 spare batteries from older ones.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        re: Good Old Nokia

        Yes, I have the same setup on my 6310i for moving between two countries. It required a few nerve-wracking moments, though, to cut the two sims down to less than micro-sim size so that they fitted in a sim-size holder!

    5. crashtest

      I dont know almost anyone whith only one sim card!!

      ... talking about people between the ages of 21 and 35. And when I'm talking about multiple sim cards, they're from different countries.

      First of all, most people that age get a high-end phone at some point, today more than ever; but who can have many of them? Or who can really go back to symbian after Android and iOS?

      When you are traveling frequently, like most young europeans do these days, the only solution is to have multiple sim cards. Not many countries have prepaid phones, in most you can only get a prepaid sim. I'm so often between two countries that I store the extra sim inside the phone behind the battery.

    6. Ilgaz

      a dumb phone has more features

      Did you ever use a device featuring real bluetooth? Bluetooth can be used to send files, vcards and even used to connect to the internet. It is all built into it.

      I never thought I would see a person who thinks bt is just headphones on a site like this.

      There are 2 billion (with B) sim card devices on planet and not, Apple doesn't get to choose the next standard. These things are job of industry boards consisting of ALL vendors, network operators, academies, regulators etc.

      They don't even let people use "smart" part of SIM card. You didn't see 90% of other features built into sim card like secure signing, small j2me like apps, remote update and most important of all, freaking phone numbers backup.

  6. Steve Button Silver badge

    Smaller SIMs would leave more space for other goodies???

    Leave space for what exactly? A "normal" SIM is pretty small anyway, and the difference with microSIM is miniscule.... plus it means you are locked in to Apple. Let's say you drop your iPhone, and want to revert back to the Nokia in the drawer for a few days while the replacement is coming. Oh no, forget it.

    What about if I just want to take my "burner" when I'm snowboarding, or on a night out. Same problem.

    More lock in from Apple, for absolutely no benefit to me.

    Another reason to stick with Android as far as I'm concerned.

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      Not that much of a problem

      Just get a microsim adapter for about £1.60 or so. El Reg likes to link to amazon every time they review something, so here is the obligatory Amazon link

  7. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

    Can we not just put these guys on their own network?

    ... and let them talk to each other, and leave us with a competitive, open, free market.

    The separation of subscriber, handset and network is what makes GSM work so well. Without it, you can't have roaming, or multiple phones on the same number (okay, almost nobody offers this, but it's possible).

    Apple want to replace this with... iTunes? Sorry, no thanks. Micro-SIM is even a step too far, and is frankly a nonsense in a device that's as physically large as an iPhone. Work on your power management, you wouldn't need to fill the whole case with battery, and then you can use regular SIMs.

    My first phone had a full, credit-card sized SIM. (And better standby time than an iPhone. Ah, the future...)

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Has anybody at Apple looked up what STANDARD means?

    In an Apple world, all plumbing fixtures would use a new number of turns per inch, and that number would change every 2-3 years, to force you to change all plumbing in your house instead of just buying a spare or upgrading some fixtures when you have the money - just think of the new sales it would generate, so it has to be good for you, right?

    No SIM? Great if both your new and old phone use iTunes for address book backup, and if your phone never dies (forcing you to use an old phone for a couple of days). Also great if you never want to use another provider for a couple of days, while you are on vacation (it must be GREAT to pay roaming charges, you know it helps the economy!)

    With a SIM, I can move the address book stored on it from my Moto to a Nokia or Sony Ericson in less then one minute, without having to worry about what backup program is supported by what phone or if the phone even has a link to a PC or not, and I can also buy a SIM in pretty much any country in the world and pay local rates....

    The current SIM is about as small as it can be, and still be installed and removed with no special tools. The new one will be difficult to find if you drop it on the floor in an airport, where I usually change SIMs. Not really a problem for me, as I would never buy an iWhatever anyway, for specifically this reason - incompatible SIM, not to mention the Apple deathgrip on what I am allowed to install on the phone/tablet....

    1. Giles Jones Gold badge

      Standards often suck

      Standards generally suck and take a long time to progress as everyone moans about backward compatibility and don't want change.

      It's why USB2 will be here for a very long time yet even though USB3 is faster.

      It was Apple who started off the death of the floppy drive and were one of the first to adopt USB.

      SIM cards aren't very large true, but the tray in the iPhone takes up a fair amount of space. Other vendors stick the SIM under the battery but if you don't have a removable battery then it has to be accessible from the outside.

      1. Daniel B.


        "It was Apple who started off the death of the floppy drive and were one of the first to adopt USB."

        Yet floppies were still in use as late as 2005-6. It was when affordable USB pendrives started coming out that PCs stopped having floppy drives. The iMac dropped floppy support too soon, as there wasn't a viable widespread replacement when they did. We were still having stuff like the iomega Zip/Jaz drives, the Magneto-Optical stuff, the "SuperDisk", and CD-RW. That would be like launching *today* a 4G-only phone!

      2. Daf L

        One of the first?

        "It was Apple who started off the death of the floppy drive and were one of the first to adopt USB"

        Do you mean that Apple were one of the first, only behind x86 PCs but in front of supercomputers and mainframes?

        All through the birth of USB Apple were clinging steadfastly on to Firewire and pushing it pretty hard, it was PCs that decided to took the USB over Firewire as their preferred connection for high speed serial.

        I would be very reluctant to to say that Apple influenced the death of floppy drives in any significant way. The floppy drive had killed itself as there was no compatible roadmap for the storage size needed for them (remember Office coming on 20+ Floppies?). Zip drives, the super-floppy etc had already tried to make their mark but it was CD and later flash drives which finally saw the end to the floppy not the fact that Macs didn't have them.

        In fact for a long time in that in between period, floppy drives were always handy as a quick small file transfer (word doc for printing or config files etc) - floppies were everywhere, cheap and you didn't need to ask for them back, unlike Zips or CDs at the time. In fact not having a floppy drive on the Mac was just a pain in a mixed environment or a quick non-network file transfer.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Believe what you want

          But that's not the thruth.

          USB on PCs was pure shit, broken chipsets or you had to buy slot brackets separately that would then connect to the motherboard headers. Why do you think it only really started at USB 1.1? The .0 was a broken mess. It was only when Apple pushed it fully into their machines that mice etc started showing up.

          To Apple, USB was never meant as a Firewire replacement. they wanted USB to replace ADB. USB 1.1 was far too slow for any serious storage and a joke compared to Firewire.

          Read it all here, from an IBM source:

          As for the floppy death, you may be right that it was slowly killing itself, but no one had the courage to really remove it from machines until Apple did so. Actually it was quite a shock then because that was, for good or bad (mostly bad), what many people were using. (oh bad sectors and 10 floppy zip archives how I don't miss you)

          At the time Apple did force the market to rethink how files should be better transported.

      3. Ilgaz

        some people use 1930s phone (antique)

        Ever wondered how you can boot a Nokia from 1998 today and talk with it? Or simply plug a phone (from any year) to any wall on any place of planet and expect it to work?

        That is the telecom World which Apple really doesn't seem to understand.

        You propose something, a meaningful thing. Make sure it is also backwards compatible, at least 3 generations. Work with industry (including rivals) , convince them that you have good intentions. satisfy the market that their handsets will continue to work.

        That is how you do things in massive telecom industry. Not like "I was sitting at Starbucks with my Macbook and got this idea".

        A company rejecting to use SIM's already existing features, down to freaking phonebook comes up with this idea. Sorry but lets be a bit cynical.

      4. Wayland Sothcott 1

        No removeable battery!

        you got to be a total iphone fan boy to love a device that dies when the battery dies. Carry on, you will be fine. (snigger)

    2. Anonymous Coward

      RE: Has anybody at Apple looked up what STANDARD means?

      Perhaps you need too. Other than the usual boilerplate nonsense and half assed 'Apple are evil, think of the children!' strawmen, micro-sims have been standardised for a good few years now. See and

    3. ThomH


      Given that the proposal is being submitted to an industry-controlled standards body for the scrutiny of the normal industry-controlled standardisation processes, it's probably safe to assume that if Apple don't know what a standard is then someone will tell them soon.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Paris Hilton

      AC 15:06

      "...Not really a problem for me, as I would never buy an iWhatever anyway..."

      They all say that. But you'll end up owning something by Apple soon enough. Everyone does.

      Paris, because she doesn't need a special tool to fill her slot either.


  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    To those saying there's space for a full size SIM I refer you to the iFixit iPhone 4 teardown:

    and tell us where is this space you talk about. Normal SIMs are frankly a waste of space and plastic. The standards bodies came up with the micro sized version 8 years ago, why keep clinging to the old stuff.

    As others said if your operator is still giving away legacy SIMs (not the new ones with detachable microsim) get a cutter, there's even a small version that's perfect for travelling.

    Many models of the cutter also come with plastic adapters that transforms microSIM back into normal SIM if you ever need it for another phone. Or just do like I do, keep the cutout part and reattach the cut SIM back into it if you need it.

  10. RMartin

    re: to be fair to Apple

    I have no problem Bluetoothing files such as photos from my Blackberry to my laptop or other phones, so it ca be done, However RIM enables enterprises to define security policies which may explain why it is sometimes blocked on security grounds. As opposed to Apple who merely oppose it on profit grounds.

    Micro SIMs are identical to normal SIMs sans some plastic, which is fine. If you look closely at a normal SIM and ever wondered why it comes as a cut-out on a credit card-sized piece of plastic, well that's because SIMs themselves are a smaller version of the original credit card-sized spec. Thankfully that phase did not last very long, but just goes to show that sometimes smaller can be better. Most of the space is the metal contacts, the actual chip is about 1mm square so could get very small indeed before it disappears altogether.

    1. JaitcH

      The top cover fell off my SIM and it revealed ....

      not one but two chips each covered by some sort of glue.

      The cellco provides GSM with 3G.

  11. Paul 135
    Jobs Horns

    get lost Jobs

    I wish Apple would keep their alternative non-standards to themselves and not pollute the rest of us with them. I don't want ANOTHER size of SIM card. The original SIM standard is already small enough as it is - the microSIM that only Apple really uses is too small to handle and means destroying my existing SIM and preventing it to be moved between phones. As someone who travels a lot this is important.

    I suppose this is what happens when you let big American companies come along and try to destroy European-defined standards.

    (for similar reasons I hate the MicroSD standard. Much too small and fiddly to handle and lose - would have been better if they'd stuck to standard SD - maybe phones might be a wee bit thicker because of it, but I'm not someone who cares much for form-over-function and over time the tech could still be packed in)

  12. Steve Evans

    "Plans for them to eventually disappear entirely"

    So leaving you completely screwed if you want to use your phone abroad and want to use a local sim to avoid the roaming.

    And what if you happen to shatter the oh so easy to shatter gorilla glass? You can't take the sim out and use another phone, they have to send the phone and whole phone back to their mobile company and sit twiddling your thumbs.

    Being able to port your number by having a simple sim which is standard and user swappable between handsets is essential, and something that already exists (for everyone bar iphone 4 owners) thanks you Apple!

  13. Richard Cartledge
    Jobs Halo

    Call yourselves IT specialists?

    Here is an MTN Iran SIM cut freehand with scissors into a microSIM, then popped into a £10 MOTOROLA. If that's to hard, get a SIM adaptor.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Aand my idea is:-

    Fit the SIM into an 11 pin microSD with the remaining nine pins used for memory and power.

    This also means that the not only can the same socket can be used for both memory and SIM, but the SD memory only can be read back in a normal reader or standard phone.

    Shouldn't be that hard, and means that the Iphone's memory can be easily upgraded by any Apple dealer.


  15. Chris 171
    Jobs Horns

    Next step...

    Will be the implant identiSIM, every apple device you pick up will 'know' you. Genius.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dual Sim?

    Why go to the hassle of trying to create a new smaller SIM standard? You would be creating a SIM that was too small and fiddly for many people to use and you don't get much usable extra space.

    One possibility I can think of, is you could fit a 2nd tiny SIM in the extra space. So is Apple planning on rolling out a dual SIM phone? Are they, for example, going after the Indian market where that is seen as vital?

  17. JaitcH

    Customer access to SIM's is key to ...

    having the ability to use post or pre-paid services and to make the change without resorting to a fee-based service.

    I travel frequently internationally and frequently see fellow passengers switching their SIMs for their destination carrier. Unless there was provision for multiple carriers, software SIMs, as used by the rapidly declining CDMA, the physical SIM will have it's advantages.

    There is a limit to Apples stupidity in seeking Thin and that is SIMs need holders and contacts.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Software SIM

      There are no software SIMs in CDMA, it uses something similar to a Ethernet MAC address (called the MIN) in this case. That implies the network must have a record of what to do with this MIN and it's even illegal to change it yourself.

      A software SIM is a very different beast, and it will - no doubt - be able to replicate the existing physical SIM's functionality.

      Of course Apple would then have to get carriers on board and offer a good choice of prepaid (maybe even using iTunes credit, think sbout that) and postpaid plans, but there is no evidence that they would do otherwise so calling it stupidity is premature.

  18. Jess

    Loved this comment

    > That's always annoyed Apple, who consider the user to be its customer and would be much happier with some form of iTunes-managed network selection rather than a hardware token beyond its control.

  19. Alan Edwards

    Apple lock-down

    > I'd have thought just selecting the SIM on your phone rather than having to physically carry

    > all those SIMs around would be easier for you.

    Yes it would. Until Apple decides to pull your carrier for some obscure nonsense reason, most likely that the required kick-backs weren't paid. Or decides that they aren't making enough money off a cheap pre-paid plan, and pulls it. Then you're screwed.

    My iPad spends 95% of it's life on wifi, so has a pre-pay SIM that costs me 50p a day when I need it, and the SIM that came with the iPad lives in a mobile router. That wouldn't be allowed with software SIMs.

    Apple just wants to dictate what you do with your hardware.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      How exactly do you know

      That wouldn't be allowed with software SIMs? Do you have inside information into this or is there some reference I can look up?

      As I said it software SIMs could even enable a model of pay per use via iTunes credit.

      "Apple just wants to dictate what you do with your hardware."

      Wrong, they just want to fuck the mobile companies over for failing to give users what they wanted for many years.

      Seeing that Google has caved in and is now starting to fulfil the mobile's companies every whim, and Microsoft can bite with Skype but doesn't have the userbase I'm very pleased there's still a company that's in a position to accomplish this.

      1. Wayland Sothcott 1

        Learn to be more cynical....

        if you want to understand the world..

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          If you understood the world you wouldn't be posting comments in here, so clearly your teachings have failed you.

  20. Anonymous Coward


    the iPad is huge , there is no need for a small factor SIM - it could easily take a normal size. maybe

    theres a small excuse for micro-SIM for a mobile phone - but this has the stench of vendor lockin.

    mines the device that takes SIMs from any operator...right now thats an HTC mobile and

    Samsung tablet.

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