Categories: MacMobilityWorkspace

Apple’s Design To Become The Nano-SIM Standard

The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) has today agreed to use the design suggested by Apple as the standard for a new generation of SIM-cards.

The new nano-SIM will be 40 percent smaller than the current generation micro-SIM, used in smartphones such as the iPhone 4S and Samsung Galaxy S III. This will free valuable space for other useful components.

The decision was due to be made in March, but was delayed because ETSI was dragged into a war between two competing designs. One was submitted by Apple and supported by the majority of European network operators. The other was created by joint efforts of Nokia, RIM and Motorola. The resulting conflict was quite a spectacle, involving patents and licenses, accusations of cheating and angry letters from Samsung.

We cut plastic

While Apple’s proposition was clearly more popular, its rivals were concerned that the company from Cupertino might eventually own the patents to the nano-SIM. In addition, Apple was accused of manipulating ETSI and trying to obtain an unfair amount of votes through proxies.

To alleviate some of these concerns, Apple had promised to offer its design with a royalty-free license. Yet Nokia held a firm belief that its idea was technologically superior, its SIM being smaller and built according to ETSI guidelines, although not backwards compatible. You can see the schematics for both proposals here.

Last month, RIM and Motorola unsuccessfully tried to achieve a compromise, with an updated design. Apple had also modified its nano-SIM proposal, to avoid it jamming in a micro-SIM slot.

The new standard selected by ETSI is 12.3 millimetres (0.48″) wide, 8.8 millimetres (0.35″ ) high, and 0.67 millimetres (0.026″) thick. It retains the same functionality as all current SIM cards, and will be backwards compatible.

“Today’s SIM card designs take up a significant amount of space inside a mobile device. This space is more and more valuable in today’s handsets which deliver an ever increasing number of features,” said a statement by ETSI.

According to ETSI, over 25 billion SIM card and derivatives have been produced so far, and the industry continues to issue over 4.5 billion SIM cards each year.

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Max Smolaks

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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