SIM cards get smaller (again) with nanoSIM

As smartphones get thinner, lighter and increasingly powerful, manufacturers somehow find new ways to make the technology in our mobile devices ever more compact. The bits of tech that we slot in to our devices keep getting smaller too; users across the globe routinely insert microUSB chargers, microSD storage cards and microSIM cards into their handsets, to unleash the capabilities of the technology within.

While microSIM has been around for a couple of years now, it hasn’t been implemented much beyond Apple’s newer iPhones and its iPad tablets. Just as other manufacturers seem poised to widen the scale of microSIM adoption – Nokia’s Lumia 800 Windows Phone, due for release this week, has a microSIM slot, for example – a new format has been announced that’s set to reduce the size of the humble SIM once again.


Image via Ars Technica

The nanoSIM has been designed by German firm Giesecke & Devrient, specialists in developing smart cards and banknote production systems. The new card is 30% smaller than the microSIM, and a whopping 60% smaller than the cards currently used in the majority of mobile devices. Pocket-lint notes that compatibility of the nanoSIM with current and older devices is provided through an adapter caddy into which it can be placed.


Image via Pocketnow

G&D is actively working with manufacturers and network operators on finalising standards for nanoSIM implementation, and believes that the first mobile devices with nanoSIM slots will be on the market in early 2012. SlashGear suspects that the first such device could be Apple’s next-generation iPhone, but that seems to be little more than speculation and supposition at this stage.

SIM card technology has certainly advanced since the early days of mobile telephony. Neowin's youngest readers may not recall some of the early mobile phones that came with a SIM-chip embedded in something the size of a credit card, the entirety of which had to be inserted into the handset.


Image via greatmobile.net

Things have come a long way since then, although perhaps the technological leaps for SIM are getting a little smaller these days. Still, just imagine: by this time next year, your phone could be a fraction of a gram lighter thanks to the switch from microSIM to cutting edge nanoSIM technology.

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28 Comments

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I like my SIM card and the ability to change the phone stupidly easily whenever I need to.
Not that it happens often, but boy, the peace of mind is what I like and I'll gladly invest that OH SO TOUGH "fiddling" (seriously, guys...) with a card for a few moments.

Go away, CDMA concept... yuck!

GS:mac

I know phones have tried to become more compact (remember the Razer?) but it seems they're starting to revert back into bulk. These smart devices are becoming heavier and hotter, so what's the point of a Nano SIM? Resources to make a normal SIM are a drop in the ocean compared to the stuff we need to make the actual phones xD

thommcg said,
Here's a thought, innovate a way to eliminate the chip altogether.

Agreed. There's no reason we can't have a software solution now. SIM cards are a relic of the 1990s.

if you compare a SD card to a microSD card, they reduced the size of the contact point as well making it tiny. with regular SIM card and microSim card, the contact chip is the same size. all they did was cut the extra plastic to make it smaller. I think its time to reduce the size of the sim chip. I for one welcomes this new nano SIM. They would be a period of time where people will have to get a replacement SIM card if they buy newer phone with the nanoSIM but in a 3-4 years period, everyone would have switched over and we dont have to look back.

Lol, actually if the only thing that's needed is the gold contacts, why not remove the 'card' area and just leave the gold contacts behind..

The Dark Knight said,
Another classic example of unnecessary "innovation".

1. smaller sim size means you have some room to spare in the casing of the mobile
2. smaller sim size means less resources needed for production; you got any idea how many simcards get produced each year?

Morden said,

1. smaller sim size means you have some room to spare in the casing of the mobile
2. smaller sim size means less resources needed for production; you got any idea how many simcards get produced each year?

The size of the adapter is similar if not bigger than a standard full sized SIM so your #1 point is BS.

These SIM card will still come in their card sized enclosure so your #2 point is also BS

Morden said,

1. smaller sim size means you have some room to spare in the casing of the mobile
2. smaller sim size means less resources needed for production; you got any idea how many simcards get produced each year?

I don't think that this change will have any effect on the actual production especially not by using less resource. Why? Because they usually make a big ass card with a chip first, then they cut out the silhouette of the SIM card in different sizes. They need to show the information somewhere: activation and unlock codes, then after you break the SIM out of that card you can just throw it away. Like this:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wi...micro_SIM_with_brackets.jpg

JJ_ said,

The size of the adapter is similar if not bigger than a standard full sized SIM so your #1 point is BS.

These SIM card will still come in their card sized enclosure so your #2 point is also BS

The first point is not BS. Your point is only valid on phones not designed for the new SIM card size. New phones that are designed for this card won't need the adapter and will be able to use some of the space that would have gone to the bigger SIM tray on things like battery.

Quigley Guy said,
http://apcmag.com/images/micro-sim.jpg

Same amount of resources needed to produce both cards...

Same to produce a card.
I'd say more resources used from microSIMs because I had to switch my perfectly normal working SIM to a microSIM to use my Nokia N9.
Instead of just cutting it, my carrier killed my old SIM (which they claimed was normal) and took out a brand new microSIM.

This is ridiculous, the change in size takes away the ease of use that makes a SIM card for an insignificant weight advantage.

If SIM card size is such an issue, then SIM cards need to be replaced with an equivalent software solution. It does not need to be a physical hardware device to be able to change carriers, it could just as easily be done with software if the specification would allow it.

Simon- said,
This is ridiculous, the change in size takes away the ease of use that makes a SIM card for an insignificant weight advantage.

If SIM card size is such an issue, then SIM cards need to be replaced with an equivalent software solution. It does not need to be a physical hardware device to be able to change carriers, it could just as easily be done with software if the specification would allow it.

Ease of use? Who actually 'use' their sim? Not too many people fancies the habit of daily sim changing.
Personally i dont really care how big or small is it. Put it in on the phones first day, take it out when got another. Period.

Morden said,

Ease of use? Who actually 'use' their sim? Not too many people fancies the habit of daily sim changing.
Personally i dont really care how big or small is it. Put it in on the phones first day, take it out when got another. Period.


What I mean by ease of use, is the convenience of being able to easily change SIM cards when the time comes to change phones/carriers, without having to take it to the phone shop or performing nano-surgery on their phone.

Simon- said,
This is ridiculous, the change in size takes away the ease of use that makes a SIM card for an insignificant weight advantage.

If SIM card size is such an issue, then SIM cards need to be replaced with an equivalent software solution. It does not need to be a physical hardware device to be able to change carriers, it could just as easily be done with software if the specification would allow it.

damn right! I always thought that microSD cards were too small. painful to take off from a device and handle with big hands.

Simon- said,

What I mean by ease of use, is the convenience of being able to easily change SIM cards when the time comes to change phones/carriers, without having to take it to the phone shop or performing nano-surgery on their phone.

get a clip

Apple reportedly already tried a software-only solution. Apparently the backlash from the carriers that they dropped the idea.

Every bit of space taken up by the SIM card, and probably more significantly the tray system for the card, is space that can't be used for battery capacity.

Simon- said,
This is ridiculous, the change in size takes away the ease of use that makes a SIM card for an insignificant weight advantage.

If SIM card size is such an issue, then SIM cards need to be replaced with an equivalent software solution. It does not need to be a physical hardware device to be able to change carriers, it could just as easily be done with software if the specification would allow it.

This is indeed true, SIMs need to be replaced with a software or hardware based solution, each phone has a serial number or IMEA.... the sims are obsolete now.

Simon- said,
This is ridiculous, the change in size takes away the ease of use that makes a SIM card for an insignificant weight advantage.

If SIM card size is such an issue, then SIM cards need to be replaced with an equivalent software solution. It does not need to be a physical hardware device to be able to change carriers, it could just as easily be done with software if the specification would allow it.

There is an equivalent software solution. It's called CDMA. In Europe, the Zapp network uses CDMA without cards. You buy the phone and it's locked to your number.

Bogdan Calapod said,

There is an equivalent software solution. It's called CDMA. In Europe, the Zapp network uses CDMA without cards. You buy the phone and it's locked to your number.

Enjoy your locked CDMA phone; if I run out of battery I can swap my SIM into a friend's phone and do what I need to do.