Apple seeks to shrink size of micro-SIM card

Apple submitted a request to European Telecommunications Standards Institute to standarise a smaller version of the micro-SIM card it already uses in the iPhone 4 and the iPad.

Apple wants to slim down the size of micro-SIM cards.

Apple wants to shrink the size of micro-SIM cards.

Apple's approach to ETSI is being viewed positively by operators according to Reuters and suggests that Apple is looking to play by the rules as it seeks to minimise the impact of the SIM on the design on its devices. Reuters reports that the request has been backed by several operators, including France Telecom Orange.

"We were quite happy to see last week that Apple has submitted a new requirement to ETSI for a smaller SIM form factor --smaller than the one that goes in iPhone 4 and iPad," Anne Bouverot, Orange's head of mobile services, told Reuters.

The micro-SIM specification was agreed by the relevant ETSI Working Group in 2003 but remained largely dormant until Apple used it for its iPhone 4 and iPad devices, primarily to free up more battery space. This micro-SIM performs exactly the same functions, is the same thickness and maintains exactly the same contact configuration as the more commonly used mini-SIM. Its smaller size comes down to, in effect,  the reduction in the size of the mounting.

However, it is difficult to see how the size could be further reduced without changing the contact design--the first change to that since the development of the first credit card sized SIM cards. In essence this would mean that the tie between the operator that issues the new SIM and its associated device will be even stronger, as existing SIMs cannot be switched in. Despite the fact that Apple recently backtracked from its attempt to bypass European operators by offering iPads with remotely activated SIM cards, a change in SIM size might require the kind of embedded SIM card that would allow users to pick their carrier from the device without having to swap cards, which Apple has been rumoured to be working on with Gemalto.  

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this CNET article
- see this separate CNET article

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