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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  1. Anonymous Coward
    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?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        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.

      2. Steve Knox
        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...

      3. Ocular Sinister
        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?

      4. Anonymous Coward
        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.

      5. pj-mckay

        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???

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It would be good

      If you could actually get hold of one.

    3. Marcelo Rodrigues
      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

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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... :)

    4. Anonymous Coward
      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...

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Really dumb idea

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

    6. N13L5
      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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.

  2. Piloti
    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.....

    1. TRT Silver badge

      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.

    2. VinceH Silver badge
      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.

  3. Richard Jones 1
    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.

  4. 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

    1. 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?

      1. Brian Morrison
        Joke

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

        Broken?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. Test Man
        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.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        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.

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge
      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.

    4. Stoneshop Silver badge
      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.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. fridaynightsmoke
      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.

      1. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit
        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.

        1. fridaynightsmoke

          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?

    2. Stoneshop 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.

    3. Eddie Edwards
      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 :)

    4. Richard Jones 1
      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.

      1. Eddie Edwards
        Thumb Up

        Re: Erm...

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

  6. Richard 51
    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.

    1. Concrete Cowboy
      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!"

  7. Hayden Clark Silver badge
    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.

  8. cookieMonster
    Unhappy

    Blue US Robotics Sportster....

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

    1. Badvok
      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.

      1. Richard Jones 1
        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.

      2. mt_head

        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!

      3. Alan Newbury
        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...)

      4. P. Lee Silver badge
        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!

        1. Peter Simpson 1
          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!

    2. Mayday Silver badge
      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.

  9. Aidan242

    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?

    1. NumptyScrub

      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.

    2. Eddie Edwards

      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.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      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.

  10. A J Stiles

    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.

    1. handle

      Remember, it is a Subscriber Information Module.

      No it's not - it's a Subscriber Identity Module.

      And unfortunately the phone is more often than not locked to a particular network, so the SIM does not give you quite the level the freedom you describe.

      1. A J Stiles

        Re: Remember, it is a Subscriber Information Module.

        Knew it was one or the other. Either made sense. Sometimes you take a punt, and get unlucky. *shrug*

        Anyway, in most of Mainland Europe, phones must be unlocked by law. In the UK, they only need to be capable of being unlocked -- thus creating a business opportunity for third parties to unlock phones, charging such a price as the market can bear, and that way everyone gets a slice of the pie. (That the pie ends up sliced so finely that nobody's slice is very satisfying, is a separate problem ..... )

      2. Piro

        Re: Remember, it is a Subscriber Information Module.

        Nonsense, 20 minutes on XDA-dev later and you're all ready to take any SIM..

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Remember, it is a Subscriber Information Module.

        "phone is more often than not locked to a particular network"

        Might be in your country. T'ain't in mine.

        Further to the arguments about transferring SIMs to alternative hardware, I have found that having a SIM for each country I visit also works well with a single hardware device. Saves a hell of a lot on roaming charges, and as the phone is a convenience for ME to contact other people not the other way around (necessarily) this idea works fine for me.

        I know that others who want to be able to be contacted at any time, day or night, in any country will disagree.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The SIM is the whole point!

      Isn't everyone getting worked up about nothing? There are a lot of wild assumptions that if you lose the physical SIM, you can only transfer your number via the carrier or a single piece of software (i.e. iTunes). All of this is pure speculation, as none of that has been said to be part of the plan. Given how other things have moved on, I'm sure it's not beyond the wit of man to have a system where you can transfer your "SIM ID" between phones through a web interface, a USB cable, NFC, iTunes, a text message, bluetooth, or a million-and-one alternatives. All of those would be preferable to a bit of plastic which is has to be cut up to swap between phones, is easy to lose if you swap regularly, and requires taking the phone apart or the use of a fiddly little tool each time you want to change it.

      1. frankgobbo
        WTF?

        Re: The SIM is the whole point!

        quote: I'm sure it's not beyond the wit of man to have a system where you can transfer your "SIM ID" between phones through a web interface, a USB cable, NFC, iTunes, a text message, bluetooth, or a million-and-one alternatives

        And so when Im at the pub and my battery has gone flat and I need to call somebody whos number is on my sim, how does your suggestion help me? Right now i could borrow a friends phone, throw in my sim, call away. Your suggestion means we'd, what, go online, transfer ownership of his phone to me so I can access my cloudy-based phonebook, and then have to transfer it back? That's just crap

        There's a million good reasons for keeping the sim and as far as i can tell none for scrapping it. Hopefully apple don't get their way

      2. A J Stiles

        Re: The SIM is the whole point!

        "I'm sure it's not beyond the wit of man to have a system where you can transfer your "SIM ID" between phones through a web interface, a USB cable, NFC, iTunes, a text message, bluetooth, or a million-and-one alternatives."

        But why bother with such a faff, when there is already a low-tech, universally-comprehensible way of doing it? When you swap a SIM card between two phones, you aren't dependent on yet another piece of proprietary technology (which always ends up being used to enforce what you can and cannot do with something). Of course the SIM itself is proprietary technology, but at least it has to conform to a published standard. You don't require power (which is nice if the device in which the SIM was located has a flat battery), let alone an Internet connection (and you might conceivably want to swap the SIM to a phone with a better antenna, in order to get a voice or even text message connection).

        Let's look at your perceived disadvantages of the SIM card:

        "has to be cut up to swap between phones" -- only if manufacturers try to define their own standards rather than just, you know, working with them the way they always used to.

        "is easy to lose if you swap regularly" -- sorry, you're just careless.

        "requires taking the phone apart or the use of a fiddly little tool each time you want to change it" -- again, that depends on the manufacturer. Some phones are designed to make SIM-swapping easy.

        I see two counts of "blame the manufacturer" and one of "blame the user"; none of which are as bad as some of the potential failure modes of your million-odd alternative suggestions.

  11. Jerry
    Boffin

    To be technical

    The SIM is not the card you put in your phone. It is a computer program run by a very simple microprocessor running on the Integrated circuit device hosted by the plastic card or part card. the SIM program is ultimately owned by a Telco.

    There has been a famous battlte between SIM card manufacturers and phone manufacturers over ownership. SIM card manufacturers wanted all applications to run off beefed up 'SIM cards' so the Telcos would maintain ownership of the composite entity'. Phone manufacturers won this battle

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Mushroom

    NanoSIM is already a nightmare...

    ... If and when hardware manufacturers go to virtual SIMs or SoC SIMs, I will switch hardware. The primary reason why the GSM standard is preferable is because of the SIM. It is removable, you can push your contacts onto it if necessary and then plug it into a new phone without losing everything.

    V-SIMs or SoC would take us to the old US model where they lost their contacts every time they changed phones. How daft.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: NanoSIM is already a nightmare...

      > where they lost their contacts every time they changed phones

      Shirley that's what that cloud thing is for?

  13. Baudwalk

    I'll have you know...

    ... some of us are old enough to know the "credit-card-sized monster" as the traditional SIM.

    1. Mako

      Re: I'll have you know...

      Yep - My first Nokia had one. My second Nokia also had one, but it was sort of "perforated" so you could punch it out and put it in a micro-SIM slot. So I presume it was about that time that the industry started making the switch. Around 1997 or so, I think?

      Oh look - Under the Baudwalk!

      1. KeMa

        Re: I'll have you know...

        You mean mini SIM?

        I think that switch was quite a bit earlier - the Ericsson GH 197 from 1993 had a "normal (mini) SIM". I worked for an operator rolling out one of the first GSM networks so we had all the early phones from Orbitel & Co - I noted that the large SIM became rare quite fast.

        Though some, like Motorola managed to cram the large SIM into surprisingly small phones for some years after that.

    2. Test Man
      Thumb Up

      Re: I'll have you know...

      Hell yeah! Remember those huge flip-phones Motorola made for Mercury one2one? I had one, full credit-card-sized SIM card.

      I signed up for my next phone and was again given a credit-card-sized SIM card, but this one had perforations so I could punch it out and stick the now-smaller SIM card into the Nokia I got (1998).

  14. pctechxp
    Thumb Down

    Back to the future

    The old TACS and ETACS phones (analogue 1G phones used in the UK) did not have a SIM, they were programmed with the associated number, if you lost it your number went too as far as I'm aware and number portability was writing it down in your diary and putting that in your pocket.

    Now this would rely on the operator releasing control of the phone so you could switch, bit of a retrograde step methinks which is why Apple likes it.

    Apple will tie you to an operator that pays them the most money.

  15. Red Devil

    Chop Chop

    So how easy is it gonna be to cut these things down - I can see Nano SIM cutters are now available on e-bay..

    Wonder if they really will work..

    As I live in a country where iPhone 5 is not released and nano SIM's are not available, looks like I may have to buy a SIM cutter - or sharpen my axe...

  16. Schultz
    Go

    Take my SIM

    I like the concept of a SIM-free phone. It should allow me to register with multiple carriers and the phone should pick out the cheapest tariff for any given call or data connection. I'd especially like to travel abroad with a phone that can remember my local provider, so I don't have to dig out that old SIM card (or more common, go buy a new one).

    Dual SIM phone? Pah, I want all my SIMs in a single smart phone!

    1. kiwimuso
      Meh

      Re: Take my SIM

      Dear Mr Schultz,

      What you want and what we, as your telco provider wants, I'm afraid, do not coincide very much.

      We want you tied (permanently) into our networks for OUR convenience for maximum extraction of money.

      Sincerely,

      Your Telco

      P.S. Without my Telco hat on, I like your concept, especially the bit about my phone automatically recognising another country's network for which I have previously signed up for.

      Yes indeed, not having to worry about swapping SIMs and perhaps losing them when not in use, has great appeal.

      Sadly, I don;t think it will ever happen, certainly while Apple has any say over it.

  17. This post has been deleted by its author

  18. mickey mouse the fith

    Dear Apple, Please, just go away....

    Where I live, having 2 sims is a must as network coverage is so poor. At work I use an Orange sim, no other network is available at that location, but at home 02 is the only one that works. Does the softsim approach allow for duel networks?, I bet it doesnt (or if it does, the network operators will knobble it in some way), thus its a complete non-starter for me.

    Also, If my handset dies, I can just pop the sim into another one and continue. I imagine trying to swap handsets without a sim will be a nightmare of Indian callcenteres and premium rate helplines all gouging as much money out of my wallet as they think they can get away with (want to swap, theres a £20 swapping fee for that).

    So no, Apple can just fuck off with their shit, consumer unfreindly ideas.

    1. Alain

      Dual-SIM phones are very common in Asia. Cheap no-name chinese (not too)smartphones such as iPhone look-alikes are almost all dual-SIM. Even real brand phones (I've seen several Samsung Android dual-SIM models sold).

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. mickey mouse the fith

        I did condsider a duel sim handset, but all the ones I looked at seemed a bit subpar in the os and performance stakes and I really dont trust those Chinese knock off things not to pinch my data and transmit it back to the motherland.

        I did find a few duel sim adaptors, but they all involved rebooting the phone, so I might as well save a few quid and swap them manually.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "duel sim"

          At high noon, the different SIM card standards took twenty paces in opposite directions before turning and drawing their shooting irons as one in a smooth, deft movement. Time seemed to almost stand still as the barrels rose and the chambers were emptied. When the smoke cleared only one remained, surrounded by the collapsed and bloody corpses of his former rivals. After a short pause to drink in his victory, he strode purposefully toward his steed. The eyes of the town watched him from behind closed shutters as he left in a cloud of dust. Little did they know that this day would soon have deep implications for mobile phone users worldwide.

    2. dajames Silver badge
      Trollface

      Where I live, having 2 sims is a must as network coverage is so poor ...

      I believe the official Apple solution to this problem is to have two iPhones.

      (Just make sure that they don't resemble on another in any way, or they'll spend all their time in court trying to work out who copied whom!)

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is why there's no NFC in the iPhone 5

    Because of the size of the market Apple commands, and the cult that follow it, if the iPhone 5 had included NFC, then it would really have started to take off as a technology.

    The problem is that the mobile operators are pushing NFC on the SIM, e.g.

    http://www.engadget.com/2012/01/24/sita-and-orange-develop-proof-of-concept-nfc-based-airport-check/

    And while all phones have to have a SIM, NFC on the SIM falls neatly into the operators hands as a potentially ubiquitous solution.

    Apple wants to run NFC on the device, not the SIM (as, I suspect, do Google) - that way they can control the revenue stream that NFC will generate for either device manufacturers OR mobile operators (by charging banks, airlines, etc for transmitting tokens to, and managing tokens on phones). By not releasing the iPhone 5 with NFC, but instead waiting for the first SIM-free iPhone, Apple are going to drive the NFC VHS-vs-Betamax war firmly in the direction of NFC on the device, and more money in their pockets.

    I fucking hate Apple.

  20. Kernel

    RE: 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. "

    Power feeding for submarine cables is still done this way - DC positive fed from one landing station, negative DC from the other end of the cable and the cct completed via earth.

  21. DougS Silver badge

    You Apple haters don't get it

    This isn't some evil Apple plot, all they want to do is take SIMs from being physical to being virtual. Instead of physically pulling out a SIM you'd transfer it electronically (download from the cloud, transfer via NFC, whatever)

    They want to get this approved as a standard so carriers would be forced to support it. That won't force other phones to use it, so as with physical keyboards and removable batteries, some would stick with the old physical SIMs for those customers who prefer them.

    Just because Apple does something doesn't mean everyone else who doesn't use Apple is being forced to follow. But Apple haters love to complain about Apple doing things like nano-SIMs or a new dock connector even though it doesn't affect them in any way whatsoever. I don't complain about the Lumia 920 having wireless charging even though I think it's a useless gimmick, so why should a Lumia or Samsung owner care what Apple does? If you think they're doing something stupid you should applaud them, as it would mean fewer Apple customers, which I think any Apple hater would be happy to see.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You Apple haters don't get it

      It does seem like a rather short-term idea from apple. If I can't swap the sim out of my wife's work iphone (which has a large data allowance) and pop it in my android (which has far better wifi) then there's no chance of us going Apple next time.

      Nice though they are, Apple don't really have that much lock-in power. Of course, if the US legal system keeps blundering on, they might end up with that power in the US, but I'll won't be even dangling my toes over the garden wall.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: You Apple haters don't get it

        Why does it have to be a physical SIM? If there was a "SIM management" app on iPhone and Android that let you transfer it locally (bluetooth, NFC, wifi, whatever was available on both ends to communicate) or let you connect to the carrier to do it (deactivate on one and activate on the other) how would that be any more difficult than popping it out physically? Especially if you have one of the phones that locates the SIM under the battery, meaning you have to power cycle the phone to swap in a SIM.

        If you had an iPhone that supports only a software SIM and an Android that supports only a hardware SIM it might be more of a pain, but it could probably still be made to work - your carrier would just have to supply a matching hardware and software SIM. You'd have some way of activating the hardware one with the carrier after it verifies the software one had been deactivated, and so on in reverse.

        However, assuming software SIMs were made a standard (which may never happen) I'll bet it would quickly become the norm in Android and Windows phones, not just iPhone. In fact, given Apple's once a year product cycles, it would be a virtual certainty that Apple wouldn't have the first phone on the market implementing it.

        Having a SIM management app that could hold multiple SIMs would be great for the markets where having dual SIM phones is the norm (even more so for certain of those customers wishing they could have >2 SIMs installed in their phone at once) For people like you who typically only want one SIM at a time but want to swap them around frequently, being able to use an app to zap SIMs instantly from phone to phone makes it no different from having a hardware SIM. Better, in fact, because you never have to worry about breaking or losing it.

        It is only because it is Apple proposing this idea that people don't like it. If it was Nokia or Google proposing this as a standard I don't think there would be as many people like you resisting it. I would think it is a no brainer to take something that can be lost or damaged and replace it with indestructible bits. Though I suppose there are some people who still prefer the printed page over PDF files...

        1. Davidoff

          Re: You Apple haters don't get it

          "Why does it have to be a physical SIM? If there was a "SIM management" app on iPhone and Android that let you transfer it locally (bluetooth, NFC, wifi, whatever was available on both ends to communicate) or let you connect to the carrier to do it (deactivate on one and activate on the other) how would that be any more difficult than popping it out physically? "

          Yeah, well, that most certainly works great if the phone with the virtual SIM on it has died, doesn't it?

          1. DougS Silver badge

            Re: You Apple haters don't get it

            Yeah, well, that most certainly works great if the phone with the virtual SIM on it has died, doesn't it?

            Do you not understand that a software SIM is just bits? How can bits die? Your carrier issued your that SIM, it will ALWAYS have a copy. When you first install/activate it on a phone, it would mark it as "copy number 1". You happily use that phone and then one day it decides to catch fire while charging and is toast. So you get another phone, use its SIM management app to connect to your carrier (presumably with some type of password) and download a new copy of the SIM, marked "copy number 2". When activated, the carrier will automatically deactivate copy number 1 - so if your old phone was like the guy in Monty Python who was not quite dead, if it tried to connect using that SIM the carrier would reject the attempt as copy number 1 was no longer the active copy of your SIM.

            Again, this is better than a hardware SIM, because with a hardware SIM you're screwed if the phone catches fire, is lost, or is stolen, and you're SOL until you can get a new SIM. If it was a prepaid SIM, you may be out whatever money was left on it when this happens. Just loaded it with $100? Too bad for you, that's money down the drain (literally, if you dropped your phone down a culvert) With a virtual SIM you can issue yourself a new copy immediately, which will deactivate the old one.

            Combined with using the capability in modern smartphones to brick a stolen phone, and stealing a phone would be so pointless thieves would go back to holding you up for your wallet (reportedly, one of the reasons thieves like stealing phones so much even though many owners will immediately brick them is to use the SIM to ring up "free" overseas calls)

            And there's another benefit of a software SIM. If you keep your phone locked, a thief can't run up your bill. With a hardware SIM, a locked phone doesn't stop them from popping that SIM in another phone.

        2. dajames Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: You Apple haters don't get it

          Why does it have to be a physical SIM?

          It has to be a physical SIM because it serves as a (moderately) secure and tamper-resistant location for the storage of encryption keys. Today, it is typically a removable SIM smartcard (which is certainly more convenient for users) but it could be a SIM chip surface-mounted inside the phone (which is what some are discussing here).

          One could, in theory, design a system in which SIM details could be exchanged between handsets ... but to do this securely (and prevent, say, the accidental (or deliberate) duplication of a SIM) one would need to design a secure protocol and to ensure that the encryption keys controlling that protocol were installed on both handsets. You'd also have to make the handsets themselves much more tamper-proof than phones typically are today. The requirements are similar to those for electronic cash.

          It's easier to prevent copying hardware than copying software.

  22. Shanghai Tom
    WTF?

    I need a SIM slot

    I travel a lot, many countries, when I get there I more than often get a pay as you go sim for a week, drop it in and away I go.

    So, Mr Apple, HTF can I drop a sim into a phone that has no sim slot ?

    Will EVERY country have chip re-programming for a simless phone ?

    I'm currently in China, I have with me a China SIm, a Hing Kong Sim ( Which roams worldwide ) , and a UK roamaing sim which works in just about every GSM country , how do you expect to replace that functionality ?

    Also, when my GF phone runs out of battery ( man! can she yackety yack ) then I put her sim in my phone so she can call someone.

    What a joke, give control of the sim to the handset maker ? Get real Apple, I haven't had a contract with a mobile supplier in 10 or more years but I always have an active number.

  23. Trygve

    Well, it sorta nearly works for landlines...

    You can pick and choose who handles the broadband and/or voice down your landline without needing to faff about with any hardware changes. You can even use Carrier Pre-Select to dump your voice calls to a secondary provider if they are cheaper.

    Telecoms engineers are smart people, I'm sure they could sort out all the obstacles to delivering a sim-free, number-portable, customer-friendly telephony future. However that would require full and complete cooperation between all the carriers (currently all in fear of bankruptcy due to the voice->data switch) and all the phone manufacturers (currently al suing the arse off each other).

    So I really don't see it happening anytime soon other than in the most limited way. Unless either the US or EU take it into their heads to force the necessary standards compliance through - which is sort of how the current situation of swappable sim cards and portable numbers came about in the first place, no?

  24. Paul 135

    This is EXACTLY why consumers should demand FULL-SIZED SIMs

    It wouldn't surprise me if crApp£€ forced the microSIM and now the nanoSIM onto the market (with help from the brainless iDrones) and added a pathetic little tray for the sole reason of intentionally making SIM cards more fiddly, less interoperable, and more hassle in general so people will gladly give them up and give more lock-in and extortion deals to crApp£€ (to say this will save masses of board space is nonsense).

    Unfortunately other phone manufacturers have followed suit foolishly, instead of just leaving them alone. Users need to DEMAND standard convenient and FULL-SIZED SIMs from phone manufacturers to try and resist this rot.

    1. dajames Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: This is EXACTLY why consumers should demand FULL-SIZED SIMs

      Agreed (and upvoted) ... but do please note that what you're calling a "FULL-SIZED SIM" is actually a mini-SIM.

      The full sized ones (as was noted upthread) were the size of a credit card (the standard size for a smartcard as defined by ISO7816).

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How many fanbois will be confused by the name and think it's a SIM for an iPod nano™?

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