Apple-revised nano-SIM design to address Nokia objections ahead of standards vote

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
SIM card maker Giesecke & Devrient is showing off Apple's new nano-SIM design, which has been modified to resolve Nokia's objections to it, at the CTIA tradeshow in New Orleans, La.

Handset makers have been lobbying for their preferred fourth form factor (4FF) SIM card standards as a vote by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute nears. The ETSI was scheduled to decide on the standard in March, but it postponed the vote because of continued disagreement between Apple and Nokia.

Nokia voiced strong objection to Apple's proposed nano-SIM design, accusing it of not meeting the ETSI's requirements. The Finnish company claimed the design violates a "no jamming" rule because its length is too similar to the width of current-generation micro-SIMs.

Apple now appears to have responded by slightly adjusting the dimensions of its proposed nano-SIM. The Verge viewed the new design at G&D's booth at the CTIA wireless show.

"A small amount of plastic has been added around the edges of the electrical contacts, making the new nano-SIM just long enough so that it can't be forced lengthwise into an incompatible socket," the report read.

Apple's nano-SIM design
Apple's revised nano-SIM design | Source: The Verge


As a voting member of the ETSI, G&D declined to say whether it is backing Apple's design and instead told the publication, "We work with everybody."

G&D did hint, however, that Apple is likely to quickly implement the new standard if it is ratified. "We'll see a product very soon after ratification," the company was reported as saying. As such, The Verge noted that it's a "very safe bet" that the 2013 iPhone will feature Apple's nano-SIM design if the vote goes in the company's favor.

Apple has promised to grant royalty-free licenses for any of its patents related to the standard if its design is chosen and competitors reciprocate with their own standards-essential IP. However, Nokia has dismissed the gesture as "no more than an attempt to devalue the intellectual property of others" because it doesn't believe Apple holds any patents essential to the proposal.

In light of its objections, Nokia has said it will not license its own patents for Apple's proposal if it is selected. It's not yet clear whether the small changes Apple has made to its nano-SIM design will appease Nokia.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 48
    That's not much smaller than current micro-SIM. The obvious difference is the edge is much more even on all sides rather than one thicker edge at the bottom. The metal contact in the middle also more rectangular rather than ovally but that's it.
  • Reply 2 of 48
    kotatsukotatsu Posts: 1,010member


    I cannot for the life of me see how this can be justified. It's barely any smaller than a micro-sim, and it will mean every telco having to issue new sims to everyone AGAIN. It's not only pointless, but also an obscene waste of time and resources. 

  • Reply 3 of 48
    waybacmacwaybacmac Posts: 309member


    I think the real issue here is fear. A blind fear that Apple will somehow, someway parley this new standard to their own advantage and to the disadvantage of other handset makers (or of Nokia, at least, as they seem to be making all the noise).

  • Reply 4 of 48
    umrk_labumrk_lab Posts: 550member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by kotatsu View Post


    <....>, but also an obscene waste of time and resources. 



     


    No sex, please, we are British.

  • Reply 5 of 48
    irnchrizirnchriz Posts: 1,560member


    I think that the backwards compatibility is far more important than a total overhaul which provides nothing new to the functionality and is only there to make Nokia and RIM money from licensing their design.

  • Reply 6 of 48
    slang4artslang4art Posts: 376member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by kotatsu View Post


    I cannot for the life of me see how this can be justified. It's barely any smaller than a micro-sim, and it will mean every telco having to issue new sims to everyone AGAIN. It's not only pointless, but also an obscene waste of time and resources. 



    Bitch to the carriers. The fact that we still have to deal with removable SIMs is ridiculous in and of itself.

  • Reply 7 of 48

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Slang4Art View Post


    Bitch to the carriers. The fact that we still have to deal with removable SIMs is ridiculous in and of itself.



     


    Well, yes and no!


     


    What you certainly don't want is a situation where you need your carrier assistance/permission/control over which device you use with their mobile service. And/or need their control to swap which device you use. You certainly don't want the CDMA style of system where the device is paired by its device ID to the network service.


     


    What you do want, is something more like a 'login system', where you enter your credentials into your device, and it presents them to the network.


     


    Such a step, removing the physical token that carries them would also make it easier to end the 1-to-1 paring of a device to service. Therefore make it easier for users to use multiple service providers simultaneously and/or interchangably without sim swapping.


     


    I certainly would not trust EITHER the mobile network (who make their money from selling the services, not providing the local link bit) OR Apple to develop this necessarily in the consumers best interest. They are engaged in a power game for control of the consumer and access to revenue share against each other. Not empowering the consumer.

  • Reply 8 of 48
    drdoppiodrdoppio Posts: 1,132member
    Thanks to Apple for indirectly shedding light on this has brouhaha. By tweaking their "design" to be compatible with the guidelines, they also made the card big enough to make the previously negligible space savings to practically vanish now. In this way, it becomes rather obvious that the real motivation in redesigning the SIM card has nothing to do with functionality and everything to do with licensing.




    I would guess that the older players in the SIM business are currently getting royalties from the old SIM design (including not only the shape of the surrounding plastic but also the design of the actual chip), which they don't want to lose. Apple had suggested to offer their "design" royalty free, which would prevent Nokia from gaining any royalties as well, including ones from Apple. Nokia's reaction to that was to claim that Apple was undermining Nokia's IP by offering to give away the "redesigned' (trimmed) chip for free, which sounds fair enough given the resources either company has invested into their respective part of the design.




    Clearly Apple wants to get out of paying royalties for the SIM, while Nokia wants to keep its revenue stream. Clearly also there is no advantage for the consumer from changing the design, no matter which one is chosen, since the added inconvenience in SIM card swapping outweights the "saving" in device weight. However, we do win by getting a cheaper design, even if it's at the expense of the owners of the real IP (meaning here chip design rather than plastic trimming). Ideally, someone will offer to give for free a design that is similar to the current micro SIM design but with 1 micron shaved off from each side of the card.




    Let's see how this plays out.

  • Reply 9 of 48
    gedged Posts: 10member


    as articles go, this one carried less than the bare minimum. examples of information that could have helped us understand the issue better:


    1. how much smaller is the nano sim card in comparison to the micro?


    2. in what other ways are the nano and the micro cards different?


    3. is the nano (or any putative 4ff design) supposed to be better by any objective criteria? 


    4. how much does it cost companies to use the current design?


    5. who would lose out and who would gain from a new design?


    6. why should end users care about this?


     


    i fully realise that it may have been in other recent articles that i have not bothered to read, but a quick recap in such articles couldn't hurt. those who already know this stuff will just skip that paragraph.

  • Reply 10 of 48
    realisticrealistic Posts: 1,117member


    I normally can understand Apple's logic for something but I don't see the need for or the advantage offered by this slightly smaller card.

  • Reply 11 of 48
    chabigchabig Posts: 620member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Splash-reverse View Post



    That's not much smaller than current micro-SIM. The obvious difference is the edge is much more even on all sides rather than one thicker edge at the bottom. The metal contact in the middle also more rectangular rather than ovally but that's it.


    It looks like it's about half the size of the current micro-SIM.


     


    nanosim.jpg

  • Reply 12 of 48
    drdoppiodrdoppio Posts: 1,132member
    ged wrote: »
    as articles go, this one carried less than the bare minimum. examples of information that could have helped us understand the issue better:

    I agree that the article isn't focusing on the most important issues. Here's my take on the questions that you asked:
    1. how much smaller is the nano sim card in comparison to the micro?

    Roughly 62% of the size, or 50 cubic mm smaller. That is about 0.08% of the volume of iPhone 4.
    2. in what other ways are the nano and the micro cards different?
    None that I am aware of.
    3. is the nano (or any putative 4ff design) supposed to be better by any objective criteria? 

    Hardly any. Nokia's and Motorola's designs would not require a tray.
    4. how much does it cost companies to use the current design?
    I don't have the number, and I don't know if they're publicly available. The costs are likely bundled together with other GSM related costs.
    5. who would lose out and who would gain from a new design?
    If Apple gets their design through, Apple wins for not having to pay royalties for the old SIM designs. Any manufacturer who isn't a part of the old SIM standard also wins, because Apple has promised to give the new design royalty free. Nokia and the other old players lose out on lost royalties.

    If somebody else wins, I guess the current status quo will be roughly preserved.
    6. why should end users care about this?

    Mostly because of the inconvenience of changing the standard. It would make it more cumbersome to pop your SIM card into your old phone while the new one is out for repair, for example.
  • Reply 13 of 48
    misamisa Posts: 827member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Bishop of Southwark View Post


     


    Well, yes and no!


     


    What you certainly don't want is a situation where you need your carrier assistance/permission/control over which device you use with their mobile service. And/or need their control to swap which device you use. You certainly don't want the CDMA style of system where the device is paired by its device ID to the network service.


     


    What you do want, is something more like a 'login system', where you enter your credentials into your device, and it presents them to the network.


     


     



     


    The problem here is that the sim cards say which towers to communicate with and have cryptography tokens. If it's was simply a login, it has to query all carriers on all bands, thus wasting power and time in the handoff process. The CDMA system is likewise terrible because the devices are not portable to other carriers and have low to no resale value. More landfill. GSM-family devices that have the USIM can be used until they break. Even stolen ones (if they don't work in the US, sell it to Canada, Europe, Africa, etc.)


     


    They could theoretically solve the need for the SIM if the phone's have NFC, and "activating" the phone with a new carrier is simply a matter of tapping a prepaid or postpaid card to the phone, and then if you want to transfer service to another device you just tap the "transfer service" put the new device on top of the old one and done. This is much less secure than the physical SIM card, but it would remove all the whine about having to put a card in the device.


     


    It'll never happen that way. If Apple can do away with the SIM card, you can can bet they would make the phone even thinner.

  • Reply 14 of 48
    brutus009brutus009 Posts: 356member



    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Realistic View Post


    I normally can understand Apple's logic for something but I don't see the need for or the advantage offered by this slightly smaller card.



    Seriously?  Look at the blue area removed from the current micro-SIM and tell me, how many thousands (millions?) of transistors do you suppose you could fit inside that removed area?  32nm is pretty damn small...


     


    Every nanometer counts.

  • Reply 15 of 48
    bedouinbedouin Posts: 331member
    Somene buy that guy some nail clippers already.
  • Reply 16 of 48
    drdoppiodrdoppio Posts: 1,132member
    brutus009 wrote: »
    Seriously?  Look at the blue area removed from the current micro-SIM and tell me, how many thousands (millions?) of transistors do you suppose you could fit inside that removed area?  32nm is pretty damn small...

    Every nanometer counts.

    Your example is very unrealistic. It is pointless to compare the saved space with an arbitrarily chosen small component (a chip, in your case). The only relevant comparison is with the size of the entire device (cf. my calculations above).
  • Reply 17 of 48
    brutus009brutus009 Posts: 356member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by DrDoppio View Post



    Your example is very unrealistic. It is pointless to compare the saved space with an arbitrarily chosen small component (a chip, in your case). The only relevant comparison is with the size of the entire device (cf. my calculations above).


     


    I read your post and appreciated the breakdown, but it's rather difficult to attach meaning to a percentage.  The ever-diminishing size of the transistor (not a chip) is a very relevant and simple means to express the value of space within today's electronic devices.  The 0.08% figure does little to impute this sense of value.

  • Reply 18 of 48
    drdoppiodrdoppio Posts: 1,132member
    brutus009 wrote: »
    ...The 0.08% figure does little to impute this sense of value.

    That's because the value is so little that it is practically vanishing.

    99.92 ~= 100
  • Reply 19 of 48
    mechanicmechanic Posts: 805member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post





    Apple has promised to grant royalty-free licenses for any of its patents related to the standard if its design is chosen and competitors reciprocate with their own standards-essential IP. However, Nokia has dismissed the gesture as "no more than an attempt to devalue the intellectual property of others" because it doesn't believe Apple holds any patents essential to the proposal.

     


    This one paragraph is nokia's whole objection.  The rest of the article is filler.   Nokia is pissed that apple will give this away for free, thereby making this one less thing to have to pay royalties for.  Nokia wants the money for there sim  pure and simple and they want every phone on the planet that implements this which is all new phones eventually to pay money to them for the rights to use it.   It is greed on nokia's part pure and simple.   The public quote from nokia "no more than an attempt to devalue the intellectual property of others"  says it all.  Where others is in that sentence it should say Nokia.  So it should read "no more than an attempt to devalue the intellectual property of NOKIA" 

  • Reply 20 of 48
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    irnchriz wrote: »
    I think that the backwards compatibility is far more important than a total overhaul which provides nothing new to the functionality and is only there to make Nokia and RIM money from licensing their design.

    I agree. At least this design allows you to cut down existing SIMs so that you can use them in new phones. It also allows for a tray so that new SIMs can be used in old phones. That seems to be vastly superior to Nokia's entirely new design.
    Well, yes and no!

    What you certainly don't want is a situation where you need your carrier assistance/permission/control over which device you use with their mobile service. And/or need their control to swap which device you use. You certainly don't want the CDMA style of system where the device is paired by its device ID to the network service.

    What you do want, is something more like a 'login system', where you enter your credentials into your device, and it presents them to the network.

    Such a step, removing the physical token that carries them would also make it easier to end the 1-to-1 paring of a device to service. Therefore make it easier for users to use multiple service providers simultaneously and/or interchangably without sim swapping.

    I certainly would not trust EITHER the mobile network (who make their money from selling the services, not providing the local link bit) OR Apple to develop this necessarily in the consumers best interest. They are engaged in a power game for control of the consumer and access to revenue share against each other. Not empowering the consumer.

    I agree 100%. We don't need SIMs at all. If SIMs were eliminated, you'd save not just the volume of the SIM itself, but also the volume and cost of the tray, contacts, and ancillary circuitry.

    drdoppio wrote: »
    If Apple gets their design through, Apple wins for not having to pay royalties for the old SIM designs. Any manufacturer who isn't a part of the old SIM standard also wins, because Apple has promised to give the new design royalty free. Nokia and the other old players lose out on lost royalties.

    Not true. Apple has said that THEY won't charge any royalties, but since the design is based on the old SIM design, there may still be license fees involved. If Motorola, for example, has a patent which covers the existing SIM design, Apple can't simply make that patent go away by cutting off some plastic.
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