ETSI Set To Decide On Apple’s Controversial Nano-SIM Standard This Month

ETSI Set To Decide On Apple’s Controversial Nano-SIM Standard This Month

Apple’s effort to make the future iPhone smaller and thinner has caused it to focus once again on making SIM cards even smaller. The Cupertino company has designed a new “nano-SIM” that is even smaller than the micro-SIM that was introduced with the iPhone 4 back in 2010.

However, rival smartphone vendors like Nokia have publicly voiced their concerns over the new standard, calling it an attempt to devalue its rivals’ intellectual property. Apple has now amended its design slightly to quash some of those concerns, and ETSI is set to case its vote on the design this month.

The Verge caught up with SIM card maker Giesecke & Devrient at CTIA, which has already produced nano-SIM cards using Apple’s design. As you can see from the picture above, it appears to be a slightly smaller version of the existing nano-SIM.

Giesecke & Devrient explained that Apple’s design has actually been modified slightly to appease rival smartphone vendors, who were concerned that users might get a nano-SIM jammed into devices that use a micro-SD card slot. The company has added small plastic edges to the sides of the electrical contacts, making it nearly impossible for the card to be jammed lengthwise into an incompatible slot.

However, as The Verge notes, this modification has its downsides:

The tradeoff, of course, is that the revised design is even less different than the micro-SIM it’s designed to replace, saving relatively little room inside the phone for other components.

Giesecke & Devrient revealed that while a decision on the nano-SIM was delayed back in March, voting is now under way, and ETSI is set to rule on the design around mid-May. While Apple’s design has been controversial, it does have one thing in its favor, and that is that the nano-SIM is backwards compatible with micro-SIM and mini-SIM slots on existing devices because it uses the same electrical contacts.

Nokia’s more radical SIM standard, which Giesecke & Devrient did not have made up, is not backwards compatible.

Giesecke & Devrient also claims that if Apple’s standard is approved, “we’ll see a product [that uses a nano-SIM] very soon after ratification.” While it took years for vendors to adopt the micro-SIM, “adoption is being driven by a supplier” this time around.

Giesecke & Devrient is a voting member of ETSI, and although it would not reveal which design it is backing, The Verge believes the company is behind Apple’s design:

G&D is a voting member, though it wouldn’t tell us which way it’s leaning — needless to say, the presence of Apple’s design here signals that they’ll almost certainly put their votes in that direction and away from Nokia’s.

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About the author

Killian BellKillian Bell is a staff writer based in the U.K. He has an interest in all things tech and also covers Android over at CultofAndroid.com. You can follow him on Twitter via @killianbell.

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