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Apple at odds with Motorola, Nokia, RIM over 'nano-SIM' design

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
Apple is said to be competing with rivals Motorola Mobility, Research in Motion and Nokia in pushing for a new, smaller SIM card standard.

Apple's desire for a so-called "nano-SIM" would allow the company to potentially design even smaller products, with a SIM card that would require less space inside of a smartphone. The MicroSIM card, with a design smaller than traditional SIM cards, was originally pushed by Apple in 2010 with the launch of the iPhone 4.

But the nano-SIM would go even smaller, with a size about a third smaller than MicroSIM. That's prompted Apple to lead the charge for adopting the new standard, though other companies oppose Apple's design proposals, according to the Financial Times.

Rivals Nokia, RIM and Motorola are reportedly concerned that Apple could own the patents related to design of the nano-SIM. Use of the smaller SIM card would require a special "drawer" in a smartphone to protect the card, which one person said would require companies to re-engineer their smartphone designs.

Though Apple's push has been met with resistance from three of its biggest rivals, the iPhone maker does have the support of most European carriers. Together, they have made proposals for adoption to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute.


iPhone 4S SIM card removal, via iFixit.


In 2010, it was reported that Apple was working on an embedded SIM design that would allow users to select a carrier and service plan directly from their iPhone. But those plans allegedly upset carriers, who felt they could be marginalized by such a move.

Instead, Apple compromised and began talking with carriers about designing a smaller SIM card that it would use instead of an e-SIM. The CEO of France Telecom said the dialogue with Apple about a smaller SIM card was a "constructive exchange," and that the iPhone maker "understood" why carriers were so concerned about the proposed SIM-less design.

[ View article on AppleInsider ]
post #2 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

...
Apple's desire for a so-called "nano-SIM" would allow the company to potentially design even smaller products, with a SIM card that would require less space inside of a smartphone...

What's the volume of a micro SIM, and what would the savings in size (as fraction of the whole device) be with a nano-SIM?
post #3 of 27
I wouldn't like that. The microsim is already so small, and I have small hands. Having a tray on the iPhone for an even smaller card would be ridiculous. Let the sim card disappear altogether. Maybe that's what apple is trying to do, shrinking it until it's invisible and everyone forgets about it.
post #4 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrDoppio View Post

What's the volume of a micro SIM, and what would the savings in size (as fraction of the whole device) be with a nano-SIM?

The size of the SIM is only part of the savings - the size of the reader for it is the big volume savings.
post #5 of 27
Quote:
which one person said would require companies to re-engineer their smartphone designs

create new designs???? really????

I wonder where such a statement came from.... I would love to award that person with a prize for discovering what the industry has been needing for a quarter of a century.
post #6 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by cameronj View Post

The size of the SIM is only part of the savings - the size of the reader for it is the big volume savings.

Some numbers would have been useful...

EDIT: Well, I found them myself (Wikipedia source)

Mini-SIM 25:15:0.76 (length:width:thickness, mm)
Micro-SIM 15:12:0.76
Nano-SIM 12:9:0.76

Clearly the advantages are negligible. It also seems that there is already a Nano-SIM standard (ETSI TS 102 221 V9.0.0, Mini-UICC). What is the fuss about, then?
post #7 of 27
Apple wants a smaller or better designed SIM CARD, to save space for better engineering, but then wants to retain the APP DRAW that will take more space?

Maybe I am reading or understanding that worng...

Then again, if apple is really wanting this so bad, should they agree to NOT Patent this so that it will be an industry/Carrier standard?

Not critizing just trying to understand it here...\


Side note, just wish apple put as much care into the macs as they do the phones... I cant believe of the crap that is called "MacBook Pro" that i have many of compared to the way they USED to produce laptops pre/iphone...
post #8 of 27
I feel like the micro SIM should be small enough at this point, it's pretty tiny as is. I can't imagine going any smaller then needing a special drawer would grant any significant overall space savings.

While different, kind of ironic CDMA has been SIM-less forever.
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post #9 of 27
I'm sure Apple will offer Motorola the right to use that patent on the same sort of FRAND terms that Moto offers for standards-essential patents.
post #10 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClemyNX View Post

I wouldn't like that. The microsim is already so small, and I have small hands. Having a tray on the iPhone for an even smaller card would be ridiculous. Let the sim card disappear altogether. Maybe that's what apple is trying to do, shrinking it until it's invisible and everyone forgets about it.

The logical reason why they can't get rid of the SIM card is because being able to change the contents of the SIM card would allow people to clone them (see Jailbroken phones.) I doubt we'll get a promise from the blackhat community to not do this.


Quote:
Originally Posted by thataveragejoe View Post

I feel like the micro SIM should be small enough at this point, it's pretty tiny as is. I can't imagine going any smaller then needing a special drawer would grant any significant overall space savings.

While different, kind of ironic CDMA has been SIM-less forever.

CDMA/TDMA/AMPS phones are sent a one-time crypto key when they are activated. They are stupidly easy to clone, just leave the old device on, and activate a new phone. After it receives the OTA, both phones will have the keys, and if you call the new phone, the old phone will ring as well. The ESN system is old, unreliable and easy to hack.
post #11 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Misa View Post




CDMA/TDMA/AMPS phones are sent a one-time crypto key when they are activated. They are stupidly easy to clone, just leave the old device on, and activate a new phone. After it receives the OTA, both phones will have the keys, and if you call the new phone, the old phone will ring as well. The ESN system is old, unreliable and easy to hack.

Which is why it happens all the time with major security breeches left and right??
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post #12 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by cameronj View Post

The size of the SIM is only part of the savings - the size of the reader for it is the big volume savings.

But the savings get smaller with each size reduction. The real savings come from getting rid of the SIM altogether.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Misa View Post

The logical reason why they can't get rid of the SIM card is because being able to change the contents of the SIM card would allow people to clone them (see Jailbroken phones.) I doubt we'll get a promise from the blackhat community to not do this.

CDMA/TDMA/AMPS phones are sent a one-time crypto key when they are activated. They are stupidly easy to clone, just leave the old device on, and activate a new phone. After it receives the OTA, both phones will have the keys, and if you call the new phone, the old phone will ring as well. The ESN system is old, unreliable and easy to hack.

So? The old system was easy to hack. Big deal. It's not that hard to set up a secure system. Use the serial number of the device to make it secure and uncloneable. Incompetent programmers isn't an excuse for keeping an archaic system that takes up space, weight, and battery power.
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post #13 of 27
I don't know why the carrier can't just give you a login/password to their network, same way you log in to a WiFi network. Why do they have to give you a physical SIM?
post #14 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

I don't know why the carrier can't just give you a login/password to their network, same way you log in to a WiFi network. Why do they have to give you a physical SIM?

Imagine how easy it would be to steal someone's phone...

Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

...Use the serial number of the device to make it secure and uncloneable...

I wouldn't like that. I want to be able to change my phone at will, while keeping the subscription for carrier services.
post #15 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrDoppio View Post

Imagine how easy it would be to steal someone's phone...

Presumably it wouldn't let two people log in with the same username at the same time. Or if you log in with a new phone for the first time you have to provide additional personal details.

I just think that ultimately the sim card contains only information, and requiring you to insert something physical to get that information in to the phone is kind of old fashioned, like the use of optical drives.
post #16 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

... In 2010, it was reported that Apple was working on an embedded SIM design that would allow users to select a carrier and service plan directly from their iPhone. But those plans allegedly upset carriers, who felt they could be marginalized by such a move. ...

IMO this is the only sensible direction for SIM technology and the best way forward. Whether or not the physical SIMS we use now are a few millimetres smaller is irrelevant in comparison.

I must admit I find it disappointing how quickly and how easily Apple caves to the carriers on virtually everything. Remember when the iPhone first came out and people said that Apple was going to disrupt the business and change the way the carriers worked? Break the stranglehold the carriers have on the consumer etc.?

None of that has happened.

They've disrupted the industry to the point that they have destroyed some of their manufacturing rivals and forced the rest to copy what Apple is doing design wise, but in terms of changing the basic model of the cell phone industry where we are all tortured and raped by the monopolistic carriers? ... nothing.
post #17 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

Presumably it wouldn't let two people log in with the same username at the same time. Or if you log in with a new phone for the first time you have to provide additional personal details.

Sure, additional security measures can be taken, and also circumvented.

Quote:
I just think that ultimately the sim card contains only information, and requiring you to insert something physical to get that information in to the phone is kind of old fashioned, like the use of optical drives.

...and, like the house keys.
post #18 of 27
I don't like the idea of that at all. What happens when you want to quickly change phones? I travel in Europe and I use different SIM cards all the time, depending on which country I am in.

I can't think of simpler way to move from one to the other without a SIM. Calling your carrier and waiting for activation? Changing a card takes five seconds and gives me total freedom to get the cheapest Data plan wherever I am. I stopped using an iPhone because of this - pissing about with adapters became a hassle, and it broke a Nokia N8 I was using, as it got stuck due to being slightly thicker than a normal card.

It should be a universal standard and no-one should have controlling patents.
post #19 of 27
You probably want to reengineer your phones anyway. Oh, and design something consumers want too.
post #20 of 27
You guys don't realize how brilliant SIM cards are - they un-bundle the carrier from your phone so that you have the freedom to use your SIM in any phone, and multiple SIMs from different carriers, or just different numbers, in the same phone.
Well, unless you live in the USA, that is, where there is pretty much no choice. You only have T-Mob and ATT to choose from, and neither offer attractive pre-paid options. In Europe and Asia there's usually at least 3 or 4 real networks, and on top of that a handful of MVNOs reselling the network in different (cheap) packages, and plenty of pre-paid options so switching SIMs makes sense.

I am wary of the SIM-less design proposal as my feeling was it would give carriers more control. But I find it interesting the carriers were against it - that makes me think the SIM-less design probably kept all the advantages of the SIM card as listed above. That is the virtual SIM could be transferred to a new phone, and multiple different virtual SIMs could be used in one phone.

If the nano SIM just saves a few square mm, I'd rather not have it. Micro is small enough.
post #21 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by orthorim View Post

You guys don't realize how brilliant SIM cards are - they un-bundle the carrier from your phone so that you have the freedom to use your SIM in any phone, and multiple SIMs from different carriers, or just different numbers, in the same phone. .

There are technological solutions besides using a 30 year old technology.

You could accomplish the same thing with online activation.
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post #22 of 27
Why not support both physical and virtual sims? Then once we convince/force enough carriers to use virtual sims, we can drop the physical sim.
post #23 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by orthorim View Post

You guys don't realize how brilliant SIM cards are - they un-bundle the carrier from your phone so that you have the freedom to use your SIM in any phone, and multiple SIMs from different carriers, or just different numbers, in the same phone.

There are ways to have a SIM without having a plastic card you need to install in your device. Not only is the size of the plastic disproportionate to the amount of data it stores and the size of the devices it's placed into, but it's also a weak point in mobile connectivity and hinders engineering.

One solution is to use an eSIM. You get all the same stuff as a SIM card without any of the hassle. Here's an example:

You live in the UK and have just bought an iPhone with eSIM. When you first turn on the phone it says there is no SIM and asks if you'd like to add one. You say yes and input the code and password given to you by your carrier. This can be tied to your phone's IMEI or it can open.

Now your phone can be used in the UK, but let's say you spend time in France, too, you simply go into Settings and add another SIM to your device and select it. Now you have two SIMs in your phone without having to carry little pieces of plastic around in your pocket. You can add more and more SIMs and with a simple access to Cellular in Settings you can switch the SIM. You've now made it more convenient for you and allowed phone vendors to use space more effectively.


Quote:
Originally Posted by NormM View Post

Why not support both physical and virtual sims? Then once we convince/force enough carriers to use virtual sims, we can drop the physical sim.

I'd love an intermediate option but it looks like the vendors are very much caving to MNOs on this.

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post #24 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

One solution is to use an eSIM. You get all the same stuff as a SIM card without any of the hassle. Here's an example:

You live in the UK and have just bought an iPhone with eSIM. When you first turn on the phone it says there is no SIM and asks if you'd like to add one. You say yes and input the code and password given to you by your carrier. This can be tied to your phone's IMEI or it can open.

Now your phone can be used in the UK, but let's say you spend time in France, too, you simply go into Settings and add another SIM to your device and select it. Now you have two SIMs in your phone without having to carry little pieces of plastic around in your pocket. You can add more and more SIMs and with a simple access to Cellular in Settings you can switch the SIM. You've now made it more convenient for you and allowed phone vendors to use space more effectively.


That is a really interesting thing. I think that is what Apple was trying to push with their eSIM proposal. But I guess even with all the numbers sold, they still don't have the clout to get providers to change.

But I am sure other manufacturers will be interested as well in a SIM-less design. I wonder if the providers could be pressurised to adopt it if multiple manufacturers insist on it. But how many manufacturers will want to side with Apple?
post #25 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

There are technological solutions besides using a 30 year old technology.

You could accomplish the same thing with online activation.

Can you please describe how you would see this happening? for example, maybe I fly to The Netherlands tomorrow, normally I land can purchase a SIM from the airport and leave. Apart from the actual purchase of the SIM I don't have to go online, I don' have to do anything other than put it in my phone, I can also purchase a SIM from several providers with no interaction with any of them. How would this compare to your online activation plan?
post #26 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by jfanning View Post

Can you please describe how you would see this happening? for example, maybe I fly to The Netherlands tomorrow, normally I land can purchase a SIM from the airport and leave. Apart from the actual purchase of the SIM I don't have to go online, I don' have to do anything other than put it in my phone, I can also purchase a SIM from several providers with no interaction with any of them. How would this compare to your online activation plan?

Sure. You pick up a card at the airport which gives you a certain amount of cell phone time (or unlimited or whatever terms you want). You choose a setting in your phone that says "enter electronic SIM number" and then enter the number. Essentially the way that most carriers currently handle prepaid minutes.

Anything that can be done with a SIM card can be done by manually entering numbers.
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post #27 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Sure. You pick up a card at the airport which gives you a certain amount of cell phone time (or unlimited or whatever terms you want). You choose a setting in your phone that says "enter electronic SIM number" and then enter the number. Essentially the way that most carriers currently handle prepaid minutes.

Anything that can be done with a SIM card can be done by manually entering numbers.

Sure could work, just as long as they don't implement a forced registration in the process
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