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Apple Proposes Smaller SIM Card Design

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the microchip-limbo dept.

Cellphones 198

An anonymous reader writes with word that Apple, as reported by Reuters, has proposed a smaller SIM card standard. Says the Orange executive quoted, "We were quite happy to see last week that Apple has submitted a new requirement to (European telecoms standards body) ETSI for a smaller SIM form factor -- smaller than the one that goes in iPhone 4 and iPad." Hard to believe that any phone designed for the human hand could be much limited by the size of the current micro-SIMs, but this is one race to the bottom I'm pleased with.

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Of course, it's for those implantable iPhones (2)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 3 years ago | (#36172800)

as seen on Futurama....

I wonder if they'll sport the "As Seen On TV" on them?

Re:Of course, it's for those implantable iPhones (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 3 years ago | (#36173102)

No, no, no. As seen in your dreams.

Re:Of course, it's for those implantable iPhones (1)

dmbasso (1052166) | more than 3 years ago | (#36173152)

I bet it is because you can't lock operators anymore, after the newer x-sim's (e.g.: http://www.super-xsim.com/ [super-xsim.com] )

Re:Of course, it's for those implantable iPhones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36173464)

Wow these people could really use some "feetback" on their orthography.

Re:Of course, it's for those implantable iPhones (1)

AmigaMMC (1103025) | more than 3 years ago | (#36174704)

I bet it is because you can't lock operators anymore, after the newer x-sim's (e.g.: http://www.super-xsim.com/ [super-xsim.com] )

I don't trust Apple. I bet it's a way to stop people from cutting their regular SIMs to micro size.

Nooo, don't do this! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36172806)

If you do, I won't be able to punch the big SIMs into smaller versions and make a saving! Thinner devices are tempting however.

Re:Nooo, don't do this! (-1)

naz404 (1282810) | more than 3 years ago | (#36172924)

It's a lock-in strategy to make sure you only buy Apple mobile devices because the simcards will be compatible only with them. When the iPhone first came out over here in SEAsia via the grey market (it was only available with 1 US telco at the time), we had to "shave" the standard sim cards to make them fit in iPhones. Thus you couldn't use them in iPhones without mutilating them. Sounds like the same banana.

Re:Nooo, don't do this! (1, Troll)

dloose (900754) | more than 3 years ago | (#36173058)

Please. A SIM card is not a major investment. Your provider will give you a replacement your SIM (in any form factor they support) for a nominal fee. That's not lock-in. Lock-in is what Apple originally did with iTunes DRM. They made a proprietary format that could only be played with Apple hardware and software. as a result, people could not switch to another manufacturer's portable media player without having to repurchase all of their music. Hence, they were locked in.

Re:Nooo, don't do this! (0)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 3 years ago | (#36173736)

When the only carrier who offers this new smaller factor SIM card is the only carrier licensed/authorized by Apple, then you have service lock-in.

Re:Nooo, don't do this! (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 3 years ago | (#36173090)

If it's a lock-in strategy, then why doesn't Apple just hardwire the SIM/ID mechanisms using chips of their own design? They can be as slim as they wanna be and also get the lock-in they want. That or doing it in the firmware*, are the only feasible options for a class of devices that will only become smaller and more disposable.

* Which will probably never be allowed due to its ease of hackability

Re:Nooo, don't do this! (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#36173904)

If it's a lock-in strategy, then why doesn't Apple just hardwire the SIM/ID mechanisms using chips of their own design?

Because that would also lock in Apple.

The idea is to lock in the customer, not the corporation.

A sim card is currently about the size of a fingernail, isn't it? Does anyone buy the line that they want to make it smaller so they can make smaller handsets?

Re:Nooo, don't do this! (1)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | more than 3 years ago | (#36173992)

No, they want it smaller so they can add some other chip/feature/part to the phone in the space its taking up now.

Re:Nooo, don't do this! (2)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 3 years ago | (#36174106)

A sim card is currently about the size of a fingernail, isn't it? Does anyone buy the line that they want to make it smaller so they can make smaller handsets?

Have you ever considered that the same company that makes their iDevices smaller/thinner every year, won't want to make the SIM card smaller?

Re:Nooo, don't do this! (1)

milkmage (795746) | more than 3 years ago | (#36173260)

maybe your "shaving" is a SEAsia thing because here in the US, I took the SIM from my US Blackberry (same carrier) and put it in my 1st gen iphone w/o shaving anything, then I jailbroke it and put another SIM from another carrier to test the jailbreak... again - didn't shave anything.

Re:Nooo, don't do this! (1)

mellon (7048) | more than 3 years ago | (#36173654)

I think he means "when the iPhone 4 originally came out," not "when the original iPhone came out." As you say, the original iPhone takes a standard SIM.

Re:Nooo, don't do this! (4, Insightful)

mellon (7048) | more than 3 years ago | (#36173636)

Strictly speaking, it's a lock-out strategy. Whenever I travel abroad, I have to talk the local cell provider into selling me a standard SIM, which I then have to cut down to fit in the tiny slot in my giant iPad (most providers claim to sell Micro-SIMs, but they never seem to have them in stock). Whereas I can put a standard SIM in my Nexus S. Guess why I bought a Nexus S instead of an iPhone 4? (Well, okay, partly it was because it was unlocked, but the non-hassle-factor is pretty major too.) If Apple comes up with a SIM that can't even be cut down, that'll be a *really* strong reason not to buy whatever device depends on it.

Honestly, "too large" hasn't been a factor in my cell phone purchases in a *long* time. I don't want a screen the size of my thumbnail anyway. Sometimes standard is more important than small.

Re:Nooo, don't do this! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36174742)

Sometimes standard is more important than small.

That's what she said

Thinner devices? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36172814)

That is the justification for the need for smaller sim cards. Frankly, the sim card is thin enough (I'm sure it could be thinner, but it is still much thinner than the device). And all that is used is a bunch of contacts from the sim. I fail to see how a smaller sim card would do away with much of the thickness.

Re:Thinner devices? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36172860)

It's the area not the thinness.

Re:Thinner devices? (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 3 years ago | (#36172912)

Exactly, it's what I tell all my girlfriends:

It's not the size that counts but how you use it.

Re:Thinner devices? (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 3 years ago | (#36172964)

Look at SD cards, compared to say, usb flash drives or even floppies. I'm sure they were scoffed at for being inconveniently small at the time.

Now look at the Micro SD cards. They took something that some already thought was too small, and made it a LOT smaller. ok, THAT is getting into my area of "inconveniently small", but yet here we have them and they're popular in small devices like cell phones. A smaller sim card is just the same way, it's just the next step, not the last.

Re:Thinner devices? (1, Insightful)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 3 years ago | (#36173088)

If SIM's get down to the size of MicroSD (or smaller) they will be out of the range of sizes that average users will be able to handle themselves. To me this sounds a lot like Apple trying to create some kind of lock-in, where users are completely free to replace their SIM but not realistically able to.

Re:Thinner devices? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36173278)

Duh. That's my theory why they really went to MicroSIM to begin with. Other phones, no larger or thicker than the iPhone, have normal sized SIM cards.

It's lock-in; copuled with Apple brainwashing hipsters into thinking that different means better. Nothing more.

Re:Thinner devices? (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 3 years ago | (#36173928)

Afaict microsims are already as small as microSD, making them even smaller will make them very awkward to handle.

Not a big deal for those who live in one country and use one SIM all the time but a very big deal for those who travel and want to swap sims to get a deal that is decent locally.

Re:Thinner devices? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36173718)

Wait, you think devices are miniaturized by identifying and exchanging one giant oversized component at a time?

That's it, we need to remove the display panel!

Dare I say it? (4, Insightful)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 3 years ago | (#36172822)

This has less to do with practical concerns about footprint and more about making sim-swapping even harder. Are they really saying a ~1cm^2 SIM is too big, even in an iPad?

Karma be damned, Apple only need that bulky SIM holder because there isn't a user-replaceable battery and its associated cover. I've had enough other brand phones to see that there are better (i.e. smaller) ways to hold a SIM.

Re:Dare I say it? (3, Interesting)

ModernGeek (601932) | more than 3 years ago | (#36172862)

I'd rather have a phone that has a software-swappable identifier that handshakes with the tower, but I suppose that is just dreaming.

Re:Dare I say it? (3, Informative)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 3 years ago | (#36172908)

Apple have patented something along those lines and the carriers weren't happy about it.

Re:Dare I say it? (2)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#36173614)

I'd rather have a phone that has a software-swappable identifier that handshakes with the tower, but I suppose that is just dreaming.

The security implications make this less then desirable.

Yes it is securable enough to work, in theory (using PKI)...

But in reality, where telco's won't even enforce security on voicemail (I call my voicemail from overseas all the time, I only need to enter my Australian phone number) and the average person doesn't give a crap about keeping their private key secure. When an attacker only needs 2 minutes to grab a phone, copy the private key and return it the average person wont even notice it's missing in that time and few people actually use the security features on their phone.

What I'd like is a mix between the two. The private key needs to be an installable ROM module (SIM card). The SIM is mine, I assign it to an IMEI and I give both to the telco who registers that on their system. If I want to register the same IMEI and SIM on a different network, I should be able to do that too. But because of the security implications, the SIM needs to be unique and hardware based.

Re:Dare I say it? (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 3 years ago | (#36174352)

I'd rather have a phone that has a software-swappable identifier that handshakes with the tower,

Sounds spoofable.

Re:Dare I say it? (1)

Aeternitas827 (1256210) | more than 3 years ago | (#36174872)

I'd rather have a phone that has a software-swappable identifier that handshakes with the tower, but I suppose that is just dreaming.

Similar to the good old days of the ESN (think Analog, TDMA, CDMA)? Granted, the ESN was printed right in the back of the thing, and all someone needed was a few minutes to get that (at most) and cloning isn't far behind--not that the GSM method is unclonable, but really, it's more often going to be easier to just yoink someone's SIM and use it while you can.

You also lose the benefit of being able to just switch to a different phone on your own if the identifier is a value stored in the phone--every phone would have to have it's own identifier on the network (letting multiple phones share the same would make it hard to claim cloning with your provider, should it happen--it's built in for multiple phones to say they're the same person at that point), so if you wanted or needed to change handsets, it's another call to your provider.

Re:Dare I say it? (2, Interesting)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 3 years ago | (#36172948)

Apple only need that bulky SIM holder because there isn't a user-replaceable battery and its associated cover.

User-replaceable batteries take up more space. They need extra casing and catches that are otherwise unnecessary.

Hardware SIMs are an annoyance. They should be replaced by software, in which case they would take up no room at all.

Re:Dare I say it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36173170)

Yes, and if you have user replaceable batteries then the users might just replace their own batteries! Just think of it, they could do things like replace old batteries that don't hold a charge properly or carry an extra battery if they're going to be away from an external power source for a long time! In the former case, the manufacturer could loose all kinds of income replacing batteries for you and selling customers only the overpriced batteries they want you to have at ridiculous repair cost. In the latter it might just make the device more useful to some consumers, and we know how much some (looking DIRECTLY at you apple) companies hate it when you start thinking that you own hardware that you bought from them.

Re:Dare I say it? (3, Insightful)

Microlith (54737) | more than 3 years ago | (#36173092)

Are they really saying a ~1cm^2 SIM is too big, even in an iPad?

A physically smaller, but otherwise identical, SIM card would be easy for most vendors to get behind. Reduced z-height and board area would be welcomed, considering that the average SIM card is mostly plastic and larger in all 3 dimensions than the average microSD card. And yes, all manufacturers take those parameters into consideration.

I've had enough other brand phones to see that there are better (i.e. smaller) ways to hold a SIM.

  But no way to reduce the physical, internal footprint of the SIM card itself, short of eliminating all the plastic and soldering it in entirely or redesigning the packaging (which is mostly plastic and huge contacts.)

Re:Dare I say it? (-1, Troll)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#36173542)

This has less to do with practical concerns about footprint and more about making sim-swapping even harder.

Lets not forget the royalty fees to Apple.

Karma be damned, Apple want to make it harder for competitors to enter the marketplace seeing as they have trouble competing as it is. Not that I expect this to work, SIM's are very well entrenched GSM equipment manufacturers. Also, Apple do not want Apple devices on networks that Apple does not have an agreement with.

Less about practicality, more about locking in your own customers. Not that it would work here in Oz, if your telco refuses to swap your MicroSIM for a normal SIM you just take them to the TIO until they do. However I imagine in places without consumer protection it would be a serious hurdle to changing handsets.

Re:Dare I say it? (3, Interesting)

taharvey (625577) | more than 3 years ago | (#36173720)

Snore.... Slashdot is paranoid about Apple, like teabaggers are about taxes.

Nothing about Apples motives here have anything to do with exclusivity. That is why Apple is leading the way with a standards body. Apple is not the conspiracy that Slashdot makes it out to be. Apple is easy to understand, and their motive is always been clear:

1. Sure they are insanely profitable and have a somewhat walled garden. But to see this as greed is to totally misunderstand Apple culture and Steve Jobs. It is all about Idealism and designing the "one perfect thing". In fact, Steve Jobs idealism for making "beautiful devices" that will "change the world" far outstrips any profit motive he has.

2. Sealed batteries, smaller sim cards and the like are critical paths to Apple's future product plans. Just like technological advances enables product development, Apple sees industrial design and packaging on a equal footing with technology. They have conceptual products they are laying the groundwork for years in advance. Don't look at the current need look at the possible needs down the road.

Re:Dare I say it? (2)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#36173956)

Consider the simple fact that the standard Sim card is larger that the A4 processor in the iphone I would say yes.

Think of all that wasted space since the SIM usually only has a couple of Megs of storage too. A Mini SIM that the current iPhone uses is nearly 30% the size of of the A4 processor. and the same size as my 4GB microSD.

It's not the size, it's the thickness (4, Interesting)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#36172824)

The real issue is not the 2D dimensions, but rather the thickness of the card. You can only make a set of pressure contacts so thin. At some point, I suspect we'll see SIM cards that are thicker, but have their contacts running down the edge of the card instead of across the face, thus reducing the plausible device thickness from about a quarter inch to about a millimeter (if you ignore all the other components that are thicker than a SIM card tray...).

Re:It's not the size, it's the thickness (2, Interesting)

Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) | more than 3 years ago | (#36172978)

Dear Apple,

Shrink things that an everyday user will never handle.

Sincerely, Users
PS: That is, unless you somehow plan on profiting from the number that will be lost, dropped, damaged because of our fat sausage fingers

Re:It's not the size, it's the thickness (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36173440)


Dear Apple,

Ignore previous letter. It doesn't speak for me. I want my iPhones even thinner lighter and with a longer battery life.

Sincerely, Actual User

Re:It's not the size, it's the thickness (1)

Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) | more than 3 years ago | (#36173892)

We're talking about SIM cards, dear Anonymous Coward, not iPhones.

Re:It's not the size, it's the thickness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36174038)

SIM cards are inside iPhones. Smaller SIM card = smaller lighter iPhone with bigger battery.

Re:It's not the size, it's the thickness (1)

Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) | more than 3 years ago | (#36174166)

My point being...shrink other internal bits rather than the universal item that is handled by users often.

Re:It's not the size, it's the thickness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36174294)

His point is probably that any reduction in thickness of the card could also lead to reduction in thickness of the phone eventually. Don't let logic get in the way of being a smartass dumbfuck, though.

Re:It's not the size, it's the thickness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36174912)

I am still using iphone 3gs solely because it has standard SIM. Can not get iphone 4 because i often buy a local prepaid SIM when abroad, several times a year. And i dare you to find a prepaid data SIM in microsim format - say - in Turkey. Or Malaysia.
Have been using Apple products for 20 years but my next phone will probably be an android because of the SIM issue. Once they get TomTom.

Re:It's not the size, it's the thickness (1)

Identita (1256932) | more than 3 years ago | (#36173362)

1mm? The simcard is based on a standard ISO 7816 card format which is .79mm in thickness. Our company can make sim cards that are .3mm in thickness. That's not the issue. Its the volume requirements to tool enough equipment if all the carriers suddenly did want them that thin. Whose going to make them all?

Re:It's not the size, it's the thickness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36173834)

Do you not even read what you're replying to?! (I know, I know, IMBNH...)
He was talking about the thickness of a cellphone, or at least a hypothetical SIM-bearing device, since cellphone screens currently are nearly 1mm themselves.

He's saying move the contacts to the edge so you can save the thickness of the contact fingers from the SIM holder, which currently contributes significantly more thickness than the SIM itself.

Re:It's not the size, it's the thickness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36174050)

It's not the size, it's the thickness

You know, that's the same argument I've been making for years, but the ladies ain't buyin' it.

Smaller and smaller SIM cards... (1)

Azadre (632442) | more than 3 years ago | (#36172832)

Seems the new CDMA iPhone got Apple thinking about a Sim-less design. Imagine all the goodies that could fit in that .1 cm^3 saved.

Why smaller? (2)

youn (1516637) | more than 3 years ago | (#36172870)

There is already extra space in most phones today. There is a point with phones where they are getting too small; I actually expect the desire for smarter phones bring phone sizes bigger actually

Re:Why smaller? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36173084)

You suspect something that is already happening to come true? where are my insightful mod points when i need them?

http://www.droidforums.net/forum/android-forum/125036-list-top-best-2011-android-phones.html

Re:Why smaller? (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 3 years ago | (#36173154)

Is there extra space? Every teardown I see of the newest smartphone or tablet seems like it's 99% battery, with some electronics squeeze in around the edges.

Which is not to say that shrinking the SIM card will make a noticeable difference in battery life. I'm pretty sure this is the Apple-equivalent of OOXML.

Re:Why smaller? (1)

NoobixCube (1133473) | more than 3 years ago | (#36173186)

*looks at my Dell Streak* Yeah... I could really do with a few more inches of screen space...

Re:Why smaller? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36173236)

There is already extra space in most phones today.

Not in the iPhone 4 there isn't. Plus any space saved from components can be used by the battery instead.

Re:Why smaller? (1)

Whomp-Ass (135351) | more than 3 years ago | (#36174256)

Bullshit.

Plenty of space is wasted in not using lightweight, high-strength, low deforming materials on the back (non-touch-screen side.)

For the cost, a wafer thin sliver of titanium would work, perform the same function, and reduce the 'problem' of size/thickness/what-have-you. On the other hand, it would raise the cost of the device by about a nickel...Can't have that.

If you were to go ahead and disassemble the iPhone4 you will find enough voids in the sub-and-super-structure that could house a standard-sized sim card...hell, a couple of screws on the above mentioned back and you could change the battery yourself too.

Re:Why smaller? (1)

Ixokai (443555) | more than 3 years ago | (#36174304)

Uhh, not really, no. http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/iPhone-4-Teardown/3130/1 [ifixit.com]

Apple devices are very densely packed: they're the ones who are pushing for this, so other "phones" don't matter -- its not like they're pushing to mandate everyone use these.

Yeah, the Micro SIM is pretty small: its getting small enough that it might be a pain for some people to handle if it gets smaller. But Apple doesn't care -- and not for absurd paranoid rantings about this being a lock-in attempt (seriously? This would be the lamest and most pointless strategy to go about that) -- but because MOST people don't really care about the hot-swapability of a SIM card-- it won't stop people from buying the phones for the most part. If they could reduce that tiny space by 20%, or even 50%, they could maybe fit in a whole new sensor -- or another chip, or more battery room. Who knows what? But it'd open the possibility for them to grow the features and capability even more... which WILL sell phones.

They want EVERYTHING to get smaller. The iPhone will never get any bigger, and I doubt it'll get much smaller, but the stuff inside will continue to shrink -- except for the battery -- until the laws of physics put a stop to it, and Apple will keep cramming the shell as absolutely full as they can figure out how.

Every little bit counts.

Re:Why smaller? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36174904)

length/width won't get smaller, but thickness might, remember, these are the people who built the MacBook Air, thinner and lighter weight than any competitor for a given screen size. While micro SIM is not exactly thick, even thin things add up when they are layered together.

Funny you should say "desire" (1)

LongearedBat (1665481) | more than 3 years ago | (#36174656)

The HTC Desire HD is almost a little too big. But yes, you are quite right: it's very nice having such a big screen on a PDA phone. :)

POINTLESS (1)

johnjones (14274) | more than 3 years ago | (#36172916)

what do you gain from having a smaller package ?

incompatibility with other phones and thats about it...

the package size does not impact significantly on phone design at all this is simply a case of laziness.. design around it

operators simply have no say it seems any more...

have fun and watch your bottom line disappear operators...

regards

John Jones

Re:POINTLESS (1)

srodden (949473) | more than 3 years ago | (#36172980)

Agreed. It seems to me that the micro SIM is already small enough AND thin enough. The size of a battery of decent duration is a bigger limitation on the thickness of phones.

And what's a deltic in this context? Google is trying to tell me you're a combustion engine with a triangular piston arrangement and frankly that makes as much sense as sticking a rubber glove on an eel.

Deja Vu (2)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#36172928)

I remember something like this in the past.

We have sim cards which work with pretty much everything, EXCEPT the iPhone. So the solution was either to buy a smaller sim or just grab a pair of scissors and remove some of the plastic yourself, while the career that had exclusivity was heavily advertising that it has these new high-tech simcards.

I'm sure its not because we're running out of space. At all. Its for exclusivity.

MicroSIM? (2, Insightful)

WiiVault (1039946) | more than 3 years ago | (#36173270)

I assume your not trying to call the standardized MicroSIM an evil plot by Apple. Sometimes I wonder why some folks can't just be happy criticizing Apple for all the real crap they do and must instead make up absurd new conspiracy theories that have no basis in fact.

Re:MicroSIM? (1)

mellon (7048) | more than 3 years ago | (#36173694)

I don't really care whether it's an evil plot or not. I don't care whether it's a "standard" or not. The only cell phone manufacturer that I know of that uses MicroSIMs is Apple. This means that when you go to buy a MicroSIM, they don't have it. This is a royal PITA. It's not a question of criticizing Apple; it's a question of convenience. When I'm traveling, I want to be able to buy a SIM and put it in my phone, not buy a SIM, spent 20 minutes with my swiss army knife cutting it down and shaving it to a final fit, and then maybe discover that it doesn't work anyway and not be able to return it.

Re:MicroSIM? (1)

WiiVault (1039946) | more than 3 years ago | (#36173760)

I don't really care whether it's an evil plot or not. I don't care whether it's a "standard" or not. The only cell phone manufacturer that I know of that uses MicroSIMs is Apple. This means that when you go to buy a MicroSIM, they don't have it. This is a royal PITA.

Seems fair to me, I've personally never used a microsim, but I can see the issue presented by you. Obviously adapters only work one way too which makes your scenario a pain indeed. My post wasn't addressing the potential benefits or issues with SIM vs. MicroSIM, I just wanted to dispel any conspiracy conceptions that microSIM was some sort of Apple controlled walled-garden style lock-in.

Re:MicroSIM? (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 3 years ago | (#36173832)

Yes, we mustn't have progress and should all be using credit card sized sims like in the good old days.

Re:MicroSIM? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36174230)

There is point past which miniaturisation becomes bad not good. Have a look at your fingers, have you noticed them getting any smaller any time recently? You may not, but I want a SIM card I can swap between phones without having to use a special tool for the purpose.

Re:MicroSIM? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36174942)

But, this isn't the old days, and most handset manufacturers seem to be able to handle the regular SIMs just fine, you know the ones that approximately the same size as an SD card. So, going to micro SD might plausibly have some benefit, but at this point there's no legitimate reason for going any smaller since the real thing taking up all the space is electronics and battery, eliminating the SIM entirely just isn't going to save enough space to make creating a new format worthwhile.

Re:MicroSIM? (2)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 3 years ago | (#36174330)

The only cell phone manufacturer that I know of that uses MicroSIMs is Apple.

Back in the day, the only computer manufacturer that I knew of that used USB ports was Apple.

Are you still using a serial mouse with a DB-25 connector?

Re:MicroSIM? (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 3 years ago | (#36173796)

Hardly accusing apple of a conspiracy. You're right MicroSIM is a standard. But it's also a standard that is almost exclusively used by Apple. There are many smaller lighter and equally powerful smartphones on the market, yet only apple has a problem with the size of it's already smaller than everyone else's SIMcard?

Please.

Apple are bitchy because they don't allow removable covers on their phones which would allow them to place the SIM slot on the motherboard which would dramatically cut the footprint of the socket. Seriously have a look at the teardown of the iPhone4 vs any other phone to see how much more space Apple's already smaller MicroSIM implementation takes than a normal SIM.

But really let them do what they want. As long as I can call up my carrier and ask for a new SIM when needed it doesn't concern me.

Re:MicroSIM? (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 3 years ago | (#36175078)

I thought microSIMs were Apple-only, until I ran into a Chinese smartphone that used it (and ran Android - AOSP).

We had to do some development work on it that involved actually having to solder wires to the phone to a standard SIM socket so our SIM tester could use it.

And why are people complaining about handling these SIM cards? The average user may really only handle their phone twice - the first time to install it after buying the phone, and second to remove it for their new phone. Are people really handling it like a daily use item like the microSD cards?

And interestingly, it seems the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 are one of the very few phones to implement "SIM Hot Swap" - if you notice most phones, the SIM is only accessible if you remove the battery. The reason for this is so the phone will be off when the SIM is removed. ETSI actually has a hot-swap spec so you could remove the SIM while the phone is on, and insert a new one and have it automatically reattach as the new SIM. It's a pile of tests for a very minimal feature, so 99.999% of cellphones don't implement it. The iPhone/iPhone 3G don't (they have a switch that hard-powers off the phone).

It's a difficult problem because it requires reinitializing the telephony stack - not easy.

Re:Deja Vu (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36173468)

You're a retard.

We need our own standard (1)

Der Huhn Teufel (688813) | more than 3 years ago | (#36172976)

So we can make more money off of it.

Re:We need our own standard (1)

meist3r (1061628) | more than 3 years ago | (#36173038)

Sign up now for the iSIM 4GB, store more contacts than ever. Access 4G networks. Only 99.99$/month on top of your old plan.

Maybe they can fit more SIMs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36172988)

Just a thought, maybe for someone who travels internationally, I'd like to be able to use multiple sim cards than have to swap them every time I get off the airport. It's a pain in the ass when you're flying between 2 different countries for business on a almost bi weekly basis and have to remove the damn battery cover to get at the sim cards on most phones.

Re:Maybe they can fit more SIMs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36173146)

Go to deal extreme and buy a dual SIM card phone?

Re:Maybe they can fit more SIMs (1)

mspohr (589790) | more than 3 years ago | (#36173248)

There are lots of phones which can hold 2 SIMs. You won't find them at the telecom carrier stores but they are readily available at most third party stores (and, of course, online).

I bought one of these for travel. Works great. You can have either (or both) SIM card(s) active so you can make and receive calls on both lines.

Anyone else think they just want in on the design? (1)

meist3r (1061628) | more than 3 years ago | (#36173022)

To me that kinda sounds like they're just pushing for a new SIM form factor so they can have a say in designing the internals of the new card. The first thing I thought was "hey brilliant now we can store user location data on an encrypted part of the SIM card that no user has access to". I'd also think they would probably introduce some kind of proprietary technology or design dogma that no other manufacturer can live up to or integrate without actually asking Apple for permission or license (think ultra-flat SIM holder). Creating in turn an Apple specific type of SIM-card to further lock down market segments. Maybe I'm just paranoid but then again that is why I don't own any of their products.

Re:Anyone else think they just want in on the desi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36173064)

You'd be amazed at things ordinary SIM card can hold.

Human CENTiPAD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36173040)

Human CENTiPAD: Bing!

How to design junk (1)

vijayiyer (728590) | more than 3 years ago | (#36173054)

Think about what you would have if you used the standard SIM, a regular (full size) SD card slot (or, for that matter, Compact Flash), removable batteries in a AA form factor, a mini (not micro) USB connector, and you designed a phone.
You would have Junk.
Of course, the right solution is to do away with SIM itself, but the carriers are too scared of that.

Re:How to design junk (1)

_merlin (160982) | more than 3 years ago | (#36173690)

Actually the carriers would be very happy to do away with the SIM. That would make it harder to switch carriers, so they would get the customer lock-in they crave. It's only EU competition laws that force them to allow swappable SIMs.

Re:How to design junk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36173934)

you would have a gameboy with a phone, at least the gameboy used firewire

I'm not too pleased with this (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#36173150)

but this is one race to the bottom I'm pleased with.

More SIM card designs = more times you will have to replace your SIM card = more money spent.

Smaller SIM cards are also easier to lose, hard to keep a handle on, when you use your SIM with multiple phones

Personally, I think the existence of a separate SIM card tech is a bug. SIM cards should be replaced with SD and MMC memory technology, with a standard format, subscriber data protected by the DRM feature of the cards, and digitally signed with the subscriber block and SD card serial number.

Re:I'm not too pleased with this (1)

RussR42 (779993) | more than 3 years ago | (#36173366)

but this is one race to the bottom I'm pleased with.

More SIM card designs = more times you will have to replace your SIM card = more money spent.

Smaller SIM cards are also easier to lose, hard to keep a handle on, when you use your SIM with multiple phones

Don't forget us poor world travelers who will get screwed when suddenly we have to find the correct sim card size to get our phones to work locally.

Re:I'm not too pleased with this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36173446)

Why would you want to go to the expense of of flash memory? SIM cards contain very little in the way of data, the specification allows 100 phone numbers, which network and a network identifier. Its not a memory size issue, Apple are claiming the form factor is too big, there are a number of shrunk SIM card designs (

SIM cards came in to existence because every phone manufacturer set their phone up to work in some unique way, it meant customers couldn't move their phone from one network to another and the network and was having to eat additional costs when they modified each phone to work on their network. So the EU came up with the GSM standard a nice simple standard which is used by most of the world. It's why I'm against a software SIM card, because it defeats the point of a SIM card. Recently I ported my number from O2 to Vodaphone, I was told that on the specified day my O2 connection would die and and Vodaphone SIM would then need restarting to acquire the new number. So I chucked my O2 SIM card in my new phone and when the phone lost its network connection I switch the SIM cards and found myself on the Vodaphone network with my new number. Explain how that will be done as easily with software SIM cards.

Apple already use the microSIM format for the iPad (which is a SIM card without any of the plastic surround) considering the size of the device I think the only reason they did this was to make it hard to go from one network to another and hard to transfer your Apple product SIM in to another product. I'm betting Apple are proposing this to help further lock people in to their devices. It's like the EU requirement that all phones should be chargable by microUSB, all other phone manufacturers now use microUSB for data and charging except Apple who had an extra cable which lets you do that.

Re:I'm not too pleased with this (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 3 years ago | (#36173556)

Personally, I think the existence of a separate SIM card tech is a bug. SIM cards should be replaced with SD and MMC memory technology, with a standard format, subscriber data protected by the DRM feature of the cards, and digitally signed with the subscriber block and SD card serial number.

Well, I'd like the opposite. Give me an open API that allows me to enter my account credentials into any/multiple capable devices so that I can use whatever mobile hardware I want on my plan, including a stationary antenna connected to my computer.

Maybe it's just me, but there's just something offensive about knowing that something nifty would be possible, if not for the Digital Restriction Managers.

Re:I'm not too pleased with this (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 3 years ago | (#36173874)

More SIM card designs = more times you will have to replace your SIM card = more money spent.

Really? Any time I've needed a new SIM for a phone (and even when I haven't) my carrier has always just given me one. A friend upgraded to an iPhone 4 the other day and just popped into one of his providers stores and was simply given a new SIM.

Re:I'm not too pleased with this (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#36174144)

Really? Any time I've needed a new SIM for a phone (and even when I haven't) my carrier has always just given me one. A friend upgraded to an iPhone 4 the other day and just popped into one of his providers stores and was simply given a new SIM.

That's very interesting.... I wonder if that means Ma-Bell reversed the policy, of charging an approximate $50 fee if you ever need a new SIM. Or maybe that's just a penalty for people whose SIMs stopped working

Re:I'm not too pleased with this (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 3 years ago | (#36174820)

That's very interesting.... I wonder if that means Ma-Bell reversed the policy, of charging an approximate $50 fee if you ever need a new SIM.

It means I don't live in the US. Sounds like you should be upset at your telcos, not Apple.

Re:I'm not too pleased with this (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36174960)

The one time I needed a new one, which replaced the previously worn out one, AT&T just gave me a new one. The only questions they asked were to make sure I was authorized on that account.

Come on people what about other uses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36173528)

Hello, cant anyone imagine a use for a small sim card in a device other than a phone or tablet?

cellular ubiquity (1)

wfmcwalter (124904) | more than 3 years ago | (#36173570)

They're not thinking about this for what we're currently call a "phone". They're looking at very small form factor devices which keep their data in the cloud, are configured by another (arbitrary) device which talks to the same cloud, and which make either sporadic or continual data connections with whatever available networks they find, to keep up to date. Imagine very small devices (wristwatches, eyeglasses, earplugs) with 802.11/UMTS/WiMAX radios (which use a mini-sim to identify themselves to whichever network they encounter). And they're thinking about these things as universal identifiers and payment tokens.

Right now you go running with an iPod. Instead you'll have a iPlug, a pair of little in-ear headphones, but with no cable and nothing strapped to your arm. You set up your music program on a tablet, and it seamlessly syncs. You run further than you'd expected, so the iPlug connects to the network and downloads more music. Miles from home your knee gives out. You touch the iPlug and say "taxi". A taxi comes (sent by Apple to the location the iPlug knew; Apple gets a dollar from the taxi fare, which you pay using the iPlug).

You have a iSim unit in your iWatch. You're thirsty, so you touch the watch and say "coffee shop". The watch face shows an arrow to a nearby one, and the distance, and walks you there. Apple gets a dollar. You buy a drink with the iSIM as a payment token (Apple gets 30 cents) and sit down at a table. The table's surface is an active display; it talks to your iWatch and opens a connection to your account in the iCloud. Your personal news appears, your emails, your documents. You do some work, browse some stuff, and when you're done you stand up and the table blinks off. Things will be as you left them when you next peer with an active display - at home, in the car, on the train, at the office, on the beach.

All of this stuff has been done, in various disconnected ways, already. You can pay for stuff with your phone, in some places. Most Europeans (well, Brits at least) have smart cards in their credit cards. You could hotdesk 10 years ago with a Sunray (kinda). You can unlock doors with a Dallas button token. Having super-cheap super-light totally ubiquitous networking makes the whole thing join up into a compelling, powerful, system.

You'll never be alone again.

Re:cellular ubiquity (1)

mirix (1649853) | more than 3 years ago | (#36174288)

Some neat, and somewhat scary ideas, but I still don't see it. Anything with a wireless modem sucks down juice, so they'll need a battery much larger than a microSIM, rendering the whole argument rather pointless. At least until we get miracle batteries, or resurrect Tesla and get him working on that wireless power and perpetual motion stuff.

Smaller is better... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36173574)

For small form factor devices, like the iPod nano, jewelry, earpiece, whatever.
And for certain types of embeddable devices.
Also, the device might not be a phone, but e.g. a SIMd add-in to a laptop or iPad which provides interchangeable LTE.
Just don't sneeze :-)

Patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36173646)

And when everyone has one, they pull out their patent on the sim and sue everyone out of business.

I doubt it has anything to do with size ... (1)

giorgist (1208992) | more than 3 years ago | (#36174010)

The current two sizes are identical in wiring.

If Apple can force a new format, they can implement new features, maybe good (ie flash memory, multiple sims in one) or bad ... DRM and I don't know what else

Re:I doubt it has anything to do with size ... (1)

txoof (553270) | more than 3 years ago | (#36175194)

Among other reasons such as wasted space with the sim-tray hardware, I suspect this has something to do with the sim card unlockers [pcworld.com] that slide into the sim card tray along with a standard sim card. A smaller sim foot print would make such devices much harder to engineer.

"smaller"? (1)

JackSpratts (660957) | more than 3 years ago | (#36174334)

sure apple. i lol'd.

It's likely that this is to support multiple SIMs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36174574)

To me this implies the capability for the phone to hold multiple SIMs, which would be a boon to those of us who travel internationally.

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