back to article All you need to know about nano SIMs - before they are EXTERMINATED

Apple's iPhone 5 uses a nano SIM, the smallest SIM ever designed and, quite possibly, the last SIM we'll see in any mobile telephone. The nano SIM used in the new smartphone is tiny and its pattern of electrical contacts are about two thirds the size of the original SIM. It's almost too small to hold and certainly small enough …

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FAIL

Really dumb idea

One only has to look at the mess in the US to see why removing the SIM form the GSM spec is a dumb idea. As it is now, I can take the SIM from one phone and use it on another (unless it is a nano SIM, which only apple uses), if needed with an adapter to fit a micro SIM in a "regular" mini SIM slot. I can just buy a phone on the shop, without contract and without paying the extortion interest rates of a "subsidised" phone.

Without a SIM I would be stuck like those poor suckers using the inferior tech over the Atlantic, as I would have to ask one operator very nicely to accept recognizing my new phone as being the replacement for the old one. That might even be impossible if I bought the phone from another operator, who wouldn't release the phone without paying a fee or even at all.

So thanks, but no thanks. SIM "free" phones have already been tried. In Brasil they were dropped, replaced by GSM phones. In the USA, they are still used, as the carriers prefer to have their customers tied to their service. Lets keep this ridiculous idea away from phones on the rest of the world, ok?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Really dumb idea

SIM-less works fine if the consumer is in control. But if the operators are in control then it's a bad idea.

Apple's idea was to let the consumer sign up for network access via iTunes as easily as just buying a song or downloading a movie.

But obviously there should be some standard and I imagine such a standard would get knobbled by operator interference.

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FAIL

Re: Really dumb idea

SIM-less works fine if the consumer is in control.

In Africa it is quite common not to own a phone. People own a SIM, which can be inserted into any available phone as needed.

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Paris Hilton

Re: Really dumb idea

SIM-less works fine if the consumer is in control. But if the operators are in control then it's a bad idea.

Apple's idea was to let the consumer sign up for network access via iTunes as easily as just buying a song or downloading a movie.

So, that would be moving from the operators being in control to Apple being in control... more of a lateral move than an improvement, methinks...

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Anonymous Coward

It would be good

If you could actually get hold of one.

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FAIL

Re: Really dumb idea

> SIM-less works fine if the consumer is in control

...

> Apple's idea was to let the consumer sign up for network access via iTunes

That, right there, is your problem. Can you even access iTunes on Android or Windows Phone (I honestly have no idea as I don't own a smart phone)? Even if you can, why would they allow you to transfer your virtual SIM to a non-Apple branded phone?

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Happy

Re: Really dumb idea

Yes, don't you get me started on non-SIM phones! I hate the concept more than I can say. I got sold to GSM BECAUSE of the SIM. :D

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Anonymous Coward

@Marcelo Re: Really dumb idea

Having been in Brasil for the first time when non-SIM phones were still dominant but after GSM already ruled in Europe, I couldn't even understand the concept of having to go to an operator shop to get a new phone "programmed" with your phone number. I can understand why you immediately switched to GSM phones as soon as they had coverage... :)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Really dumb idea

First they came for the removable batteries, I did nothing, because I was not one of those who removed their phone battery...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Really dumb idea

Inferior tech, eh? Last I checked we have more LTE these days than you do!

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Coffee/keyboard

Apple designing the next Orwellian nightmare...

I am not well disposed toward Telcos, but at least, there are many of them, and most of them are competing with each other. Phone manufacturers are very few. So giving them SIM control through a SoC type deal would make things far worse than they are now. You'd have to search for hours and read tutorials for days on how to jailbreak your phone without bricking it, just to 'swap sims' between phones. It would also create a widespread need to break the encryption of the system, leading to a massive increase in phone related crime.

With Apple's mass hypnosis thing going on, at least in the U.S., McDonalds gulping idiots would be standing in line for new Apple phones that take the last bit of control over their own lives from them.

And in Europe, you can't trust people's self preservation instincts either. The Britisch/American banking cartel controls the media here for at least a decade now, and people have started to go as soft in the head too.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Really dumb idea

And its all about control isn't it? Remove the SIM and you remove another layer of control that the user has over their device (not that we have much now). The SIM allows you to move between handsets, it's like a personality card for any phone you plug it into, which makes it very attractive for consumers. Change the need for a SIM, remove the ability to easily move your telephone identity between handsets, and you can control the consumer. COntrol the consumer and you can nickle-and-dime them to death with administration fees. A fee to move to a new phone. A Fee to set the new phone up on the network. Oh I'm sorry sir, that model is no longer supported and your data can't be moved to it, you will have to upgrade.

The iTunes angle is the evil cherry on top (shudder).

No Thanks.

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Anonymous Coward

@ n13l5

Please don't spell "British" with a 'c' in it.

Something happened long ago, that we try not to mention, but it means that we didn't have to change the spelling.

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The SIM offers flexibility.

I guess it's the level of control and your experience. I support Blackberries for instance and keep a spare SIM for activating a users replacement... meet them, swap SIM, job done in minutes. No end user hassle. Similarly with swapping devices,,, copy numbers to the SIM and transfer. I do know some carriers are making this easier but haven't experienced that yet; I would say that I would miss the simple SIM card a lot. Doesn't affect my Apple support as they dont allow you to copy data to the SIM, but they are happy to inport. Wonder why??? Surely not to make swapping devices more work that it needs to be???

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Meh

I like the SIM....

..... simply because I can swap the SIM from device to device as and when I need.

SOC is not user friendly, despite what Apple may think.....

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TRT
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Re: I like the SIM....

Here here. Very useful if you bork your phone and want to borrow a friend's in order to make a call.

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Black Helicopters

Re: I like the SIM....

"SOC is not user friendly, despite what Apple may think....."

It's not what Apple thinks. They simply want people to think that's what they think, and to believe it's true.

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Mushroom

Where is The Customer Demand For a Locked Phone Coming From?

I have never met anyone who wanted, needed or demanded a phone that cannot take a SIM. I have several mobile telephone handsets. Currently I can use whichever one I want to use by slipping in a SIM and suddenly I can make telephone calls again.

Can someone rid the world of these useless perverted control freaks in Crapple. Would the Iranians like to test their next device in Crapple's headquarters - no one would mind and the Iranians might be re-habilitated.

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HMB

I can see why Nano, but let's keep the SIM

I don't mind the move to Nano SIMs. It's fiddly, but you can see why an engineer would be pointing at their designs saying "if we made this smaller we could put a bigger battery in".

I think anyone will be hard pressed to sell phones without removable SIM cards to people who've always had removable SIM cards. It'd be a tough sell. The consumer knows they have the power over their phone.

Now... I am not sure if I believe the article personally. How small do you think the new Pico SIM will be when it comes out in the next 2-3 years? :P

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TRT
Silver badge

Re: I can see why Nano, but let's keep the SIM

I wonder what Orange Pekoe are thinking about their SIM-only deals?

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Joke

Re: I can see why Nano, but let's keep the SIM

Broken?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I can see why Nano, but let's keep the SIM

'if we made this smaller we could put a bigger battery in'

Really? A sim is flat and not even a mm thick. Most phones don't even have the old style clip cradle any more which would take up another couple mm of space, instead you just slide it into a slot. The width isn't an issue, open even the slimmest phone and you can see a lot of places were you can fit something a few mm wide as long is it is flat. By removing the sim completely just how much space would you gain? You might, only just, be able to shave a fraction of a mm off the thickness of the whole handset.

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Devil

Re: I can see why Nano, but let's keep the SIM

When micro came out there was a one-way conversion process from mini to micro in the form of a sharp knife. Now we have a divide between full/mini/micro SIM connectors and nano SIM connectors, which throws another spanner in the works, they're not DIY convertible.

The solution proposed by Apple, of course, is SOC.

Funny how it was Apple who originally proposed micro and nano... Throw enough standards and something and eventually you'll break it.

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FAIL

Re: I can see why Nano, but let's keep the SIM

but you can see why an engineer would be pointing at their designs saying "if we made this smaller we could put a bigger battery in".

This is not an engineering decision. This is a marketing decision.

No real engineer would design a non-interchangeable thingamajig where an interchangeable would make even moderate sense. Like batteries (that degrade and fail), SIMs (that people want to be swappable between phones) or storage (that people want to expand as necessary, and/or use as data transfer medium).

HP doesn't employ real engineers anymore.

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Stop

Re: I can see why Nano, but let's keep the SIM

"Really? A sim is flat and not even a mm thick. Most phones don't even have the old style clip cradle any more which would take up another couple mm of space, instead you just slide it into a slot. The width isn't an issue, open even the slimmest phone and you can see a lot of places were you can fit something a few mm wide as long is it is flat. By removing the sim completely just how much space would you gain? You might, only just, be able to shave a fraction of a mm off the thickness of the whole handset."

You forget the bit that holds the SIM in - that would be sizeable. The smaller it is, the more room in the handset for other components. We're not talking about the thickness (depth) here, we're talking about the width and height of the SIM and the holder that the SIM sits in.

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Re: I can see why Nano, but let's keep the SIM

But the SIM goes into a SIM holder, and that takes up much more space. Compare with a surface mounted device. Space is the argument.

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Anonymous Coward

Erm...

"SIMs communicate with the phone over a single wire (C7) using a serial protocol (similar to RS232)"

Every serial protocol I've ever seen need at least two wires.

RS485/422 can use 2 wires.

RS232 needs at least 3 for bi-directional communication.

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FAIL

Re: Erm...

You could have Googled "1 wire serial" and enlightened yourself by reading about the well used protocol called "1 wire", in use for many years; but you didn't.

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Silver badge

Re: Erm...

RS485/422 can use 2 wires.

Yes, data and ground. Because there is one signal wire this is commonly referred to as one wire. And the SIM communication protocol is described as "similar to RS232", in other words "close, but not fully identical" and apparently there are some changes to make it use a single bidirectional signal connection as contact space is expensive.

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FAIL

Re: Erm...

You could have searched on any search engine for "1 wire seral" and found that it requires a ground connection as well as the signal connection and thus requires two wires to function. But you didn't.

The name is either marketing bullshit or correctly representative of the signal wiring depending how well disposed towards marketing wonks you feel.

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Re: Erm...

"You could have searched on any search engine for "1 wire seral" and found that it requires a ground connection as well as the signal connection and thus requires two wires to function. But you didn't."

Which means that a SIM can't communicate with a phone using 1 signal connection (in addition to the ground already mentioned) how?

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Boffin

Re: Erm...

Obviously at least two wires are needed to create a circuit at all. The ground reference pin is logically required, and also provides a current return path. The "single wire" refers to a single signal wire.

USB does fine with "one wire" (although it's a differential pair), as did 10-BASE2. You just need a higher-level protocol to determine who can send at any given time - or if you're clever you can do some fancy processing and subtract what you're sending from what's on the wire to determine what you're receiving, allowing full-duplex point-to-point comms over a single signal wire (analog phone systems do this where they interface with digital phone systems, to prevent echo). You can even transmit power over the same wire (see e.g. the "1-wire" system). Ah, the wonder of electronics :)

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Happy

Re: Erm...

If you really want to terrify yourself look up Single Wire Earth Return for mains power distribution. I lost patience looking up what I am sure is the same technique used for early submarine telegraph cables, which I am sure used one conductor and an earth return. As far as I remember that was used only one way at a time with a synchronisation signal to allow a change of signalling direction.

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Thumb Up

Re: Erm...

Why do you think they call it "Earth"? :)

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Black Helicopters

Or an alternative

Bill's sim on a hand (in the hand?) is not a tattoo but an embedded chip which connects to the hardware through the pads of your fingers wrapped tightly to the phone. The future of mobile me thinks!

I don't care either way, as long as I can separate the service from the hardware and decide on whether I want to pay the extortionate rates for a service provider phone or purchase my own and switch between phones when its convenient for me.

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Facepalm

Re: Or an alternative

"Bill's sim on a hand (in the hand?) is not a tattoo but an embedded chip which connects to the hardware through the pads of your fingers wrapped tightly to the phone. The future of mobile me thinks!"

I can hear tech support now, "You're holding it wrong!"

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Boffin

Modern SIMS communicate faster than 9600 baud

The initial conversation (the ATR) is at 9600 baud. The ATR packet allows the host and card to select a much higher rate. Generally this is 56kBaud or more.

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Unhappy

Blue US Robotics Sportster....

I had one of them... wow am I really that old?

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Unhappy

Re: Blue US Robotics Sportster....

Oh you young 'uns. When I was a lad I'd be lucky to get a 300 baud connection.

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Happy

Re: Blue US Robotics Sportster....

Now come on there was nothing wrong with 300 baud comms, compared with driving round collecting fan fold print outs from remote data collection points 300 baud, 'dial in, sit and watch it come straight to a PC was wonderful.

When things went to 9600 it was nearly a disaster, the early 9600 data ports were set up to receive data at the rate generated by a hand typing operator. Use a computer putting out 9600 data at the full 9600 computer output rate and the ports alarmed and we had to put in a delay between each character.

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Re: Blue US Robotics Sportster....

The first modem I ever had was 300 baud... and I still remember that the box loudly proclaimed NEW! HIGH SPEED!

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Megaphone

Re: Blue US Robotics Sportster....

Remember the TI Silent 700? Thermal printing terminal with a 300 baud acoustic coupler.

Did a lot of remote system updates on one of those...

(Icon is close to an acoustic coupler...)

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Childcatcher

Re: Blue US Robotics Sportster....

> Oh you young 'uns. When I was a lad I'd be lucky to get a 300 baud connection.

300 baud?

When I was a lad, we 'ad an 75 baud acoustic coupler - and we 'ad to make the sounds ourselves!

an' we were glad of it!

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Childcatcher

Re: Blue US Robotics Sportster....

Omnitec 701

It didn't have any way to tell if a handset was present, so if you whistled at the correct frequency...it would whisle back (and the attached Teletype would, of course, go nuts).

//matey!

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Thumb Up

Re: Blue US Robotics Sportster....

I remember, back in the day, still learning this stuff, installing some 32k Frame Relay circuit when the old and wise guy (who I thought was super awesome and still do) told me that he knew things were starting to get fast when he could no longer read the text in realtime as it appeared on his Teletype.

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Interesting... Is this Apple's attempt at cornering the NFC payment market?

Currently, the SIM card acts as the secure element in the payment mechanism. If there's no SIM, who provides the secure element? Some devices do have an embedded secure element (IE, built in to the device), but you have to approach the vendor if you want access to it, let alone use it to store stuff. That would tie nicely in with Apple's land grab wouldn't it?

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It's all in the 30%

quote: "Interesting... Is this Apple's attempt at cornering the NFC payment market?"

Nope, I reckon they just want to skim their 30% off the top of the phone contract, the same as anything else sold through iTunes. Next up you'll be hearing about how they are working to integrate NFC payments in iTunes on the handset (again so they can claim their 30%).

As a vendor, if you wish to sell through iTunes, you have to agree to the 30%... AFAIK it is non-negotiable, Apple just refuse to host your product.

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Having NFC payments controlled by either a phone manufacturer or a telecoms company is stupid, but it's hard to say that one is more stupid than the other.

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Anonymous Coward

NFC embedded in a SIM

Indeed, as the upcoming NFC embedded in a SIM that will allow users to choose a payment method (provided by a telco's epayment provider) every time they make a payment would give users far too much choice.

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Silver badge

The SIM is the whole point!

The concept of a removable SIM which can be inserted into any compatible device is the whole point of the GSM specification. Any proposal to eliminate the SIM breaks the subscriber's (crucial) ability to install their SIM into any phone.

Remember, it is a Subscriber Information Module. It carries information about the subscriber (the poor sod who pays the bills) to the phone (which conventionally is also owned by the subscriber, but it doesn't have to be). Whatever phone I put my SIM into, can answer calls dialled to the number associated with the SIM, originate calls appearing from that number and send and receive text messages for that number.

That surely is the only fair way for the system to work: this interchangeability explicitly means that the subscriber, and not the telecommunications network, gets to choose the phone they use -- and the handset manufacturer cannot force the use of a particular network.

There may be other ways of achieving this besides mandating a physical artefact that can be transferred from one phone to another; but the swappable SIM probably is the simplest and most effective safeguard against abuse of the system by either networks or handset manufacturers.

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