ETSI chooses Apple's 'nano-SIM' design as new standard

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
The European Telecommunications Standards Institute on Friday selected Apple's contested "nano-SIM" design as the official fourth form factor for the SIM card standard.

The decision was made in a meeting held over the last two days in Osaka, Japan, where ETSI's Smart Card Platform Technical Committee agreed to the new form factor. The fourth form factor (4FF) card will be 40 percent smaller than the current smallest SIM card design, just 12.3 millimeters wide, 8.8 millimeters high, and 0.67 millimeters thick.

The new design will offer the same functionality found in all current SIM cards, and can be packaged and distributed in a way that is backwards compatible with existing SIM card designs.

The press release issued by ETSI on Friday did not name Apple as the backer of the chosen standard, but the dimensions listed by the institute match those of Apple's proposal. Nokia and RIM originally pushed SIM cards of different dimensions.

But earlier this month, RIM teamed up with Motorola to propose a new design that slightly tweaked Apple's original proposal by adding a notch on one edge that would secure the card in place when inserted. It's unknown whether the ETSI's chosen design includes RIM and Nokia's compromise notch added to Apple's original design.

nano-SIM
Oberthur Technologies' nano-SIM prototype. | Source: The Verge


This week's vote came a few months later than originally planned, as a decision was initially scheduled to take place in late March. However, ETSI postponed that vote as two competing camps led by Apple and Nokia were not able to come to terms on the so-called "nano-SIM" standard.

The nano-SIM battle ratcheted up after Nokia said that month that it would refuse to license its SIM patents if the ETSI chose Apple's design. As many as 50 patent families owned by Nokia could be relevant to Apple's proposed nano-SIM design.

Apple pledged royalty-free licensing of its own, now official nano-SIM design, but Nokia dismissed Apple's offering as "an attempt to devalue the intellectual property of others." Nokia was joined by Motorola Mobility and Research in Motion, who expressed concern that Apple could own the patents related to the nano-SIM design, and also argued that Apple's smaller SIM card could require a special "drawer" to protect the card.

The new nano-SIM standard will replace the MicroSIM card, which was originally pushed by Apple in 2010 with the launch of the iPhone 4. Apple's nano-SIM design is about a third smaller than MicroSIM, allowing smartphone makers to potentially build even smaller devices.

Apple was said to have initially pursued an embedded SIM design that would have allowed users to select a carrier and service plan directly from their iPhone. But those plans were reported to have greatly upset Apple's carrier partners, who felt they would be marginalized by an embedded SIM.

The lack of interest from carriers prompted Apple to abandon those plans, and instead push forward with a design for a much smaller SIM card. While Nokia, RIM and Motorola stood in opposition, most European carriers were in Apple's corner on the ETSI nano-SIM vote.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 59
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    Boom. Good. Now 6th gen iPhone production can start.

  • Reply 2 of 59


    Nokia is screaming like a baby about patents because Apple made the format free to use and RIM and Moto are complaining about............... a notch.


     


    1. Nokia, shut up. You get it for free.


    2. A notch... I can't get over that, especially when these things are placed in a tray.


     


    Congrats, Apple. You look the least like a spoiled, bratty child in this line up.

  • Reply 3 of 59
    drdoppiodrdoppio Posts: 1,132member


    LOL, how is it Apple's design if the ETSI didn't say that? Anyway, good to know that they are moving on.

  • Reply 4 of 59
    mauszmausz Posts: 242member


    "Design" as in, we cut all the extra plastic away... that's not a design ;)


     


    And Apple's design was only free if all other parties made all other current sim card patents free as well, and again which part of the 'patent' would be free if they just cut away the extra plastic.

  • Reply 5 of 59
    constable odoconstable odo Posts: 1,041member


    I suppose this change only has a real benefit to Apple since most of the Android smartphones are larger in size and should have much more room inside to place components than the iPhone does.  Apple also needs to shrink their dock connector to get additional space.

  • Reply 6 of 59
    waybacmacwaybacmac Posts: 309member


    It ain't over 'til the Finnish lady sings. The article is not clear whether Nokia is going along with this or are they going to cause trouble. Just what the industry needs--another court case. 

  • Reply 7 of 59
    hudson1hudson1 Posts: 800member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by benanderson89 View Post


    Nokia is screaming like a baby about patents because Apple made the format free to use and RIM and Moto are complaining about............... a notch.


     


    1. Nokia, shut up. You get it for free.


    2. A notch... I can't get over that, especially when these things are placed in a tray.


     


    Congrats, Apple. You look the least like a spoiled, bratty child in this line up.





    That notch is critical (so they say) to tray-free designs.  Motorola and RIM didn't throw that proposed small change out there just for the heck of it.

  • Reply 8 of 59
    gtrgtr Posts: 3,231member


    Oh, I'm really, really concerned about that missing notch.


     


    I can definitely see myself accidentally sticking it in my eye without that.


     


    The sky is falling!

  • Reply 9 of 59
    rot'napplerot'napple Posts: 1,839member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    Boom. Good. Now 6th gen iPhone production can start.



     


    Which if "speculated" leaked photos of it are true, will be named iPhone 4T, because the photo shows no real design difference from the overall design of iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S and if Apple sticks to the MO of letters defining iPhone like "S" is for 'Speed' in iPhone 3GS and "S" is for 'Siri' in iPhone4S, then next iPhone will be iPhone4T whereas the 4 represents no change of overall design (meh, small dock connector and center of face time camera aside) and the "T" is for 'Tall'...


     


    Apple can call it iPhone5 all it wants, but we know!  We know!!!


    /


    /


    /

  • Reply 10 of 59
    boogabooga Posts: 1,076member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by benanderson89 View Post


    Nokia is screaming like a baby about patents because Apple made the format free to use and RIM and Moto are complaining about............... a notch.


     


    1. Nokia, shut up. You get it for free.


    2. A notch... I can't get over that, especially when these things are placed in a tray.


     


    Congrats, Apple. You look the least like a spoiled, bratty child in this line up.



     


    2. I think Nokia's point is that they don't want to have to have a tray.  In Europe SIMs can get swapped out often enough that a push-in-push-eject mechanism makes some sense.  Still, I'm sure they'll figure something out.

  • Reply 11 of 59
    tokenusertokenuser Posts: 69member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by benanderson89 View Post


    Nokia is screaming like a baby about patents because Apple made the format free to use and RIM and Moto are complaining about............... a notch.



     


    Actually, there is a little more to it than "a notch". The current design needs to slip into a tray that gets inserted into a device.

    The "notch" would allow it to slip into a slot, and lock into place until released. That notch is an elegant solution that would have allowed either a tray or a slot loaded SIM solution to be implemented. I hope that Apple conceded the point, and the notch based design won out.


     


    If nothing else it would build good will and greater acceptance of the new standard among the other manufacturers. Lets face it, while Apple might dominate the US smartphone market (and before the fandroids pipe in - we are talking manufacturer of devices, not operating systems) - they are NOT the global leader in cell phone manufacturing. Sometimes you have to play nice with others in the sandbox. Nokia is no longer the big kid in the box, they need to learn to play nicely as well.

  • Reply 12 of 59
    drdoppiodrdoppio Posts: 1,132member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by GTR View Post


    Oh, I'm really, really concerned about that missing notch.


     


    I can definitely see myself accidentally sticking it in my eye without that.


     


    The sky is falling!



     


    I think that the notch will be there though. Most likely the ETSI went with Moto/RIMs design. It has the same dimensions as Apple's, and dimensions is the only published info so far.

  • Reply 13 of 59
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rot'nApple View Post

    Which if "speculated" leaked photos of it are true, will be named… …iPhone4T whereas the 4 represents no change of overall design (meh, small dock connector and center of face time camera aside) and the "T" is for 'Tall'…


     


    You know… that's just crazy enough to be true. And T comes after S in the alphabet, so it fits the industry standard of "all of our customers are idiots, bigger numbers and later letters mean 'better' products".


     


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by tokenuser View Post

    The current design needs to slip into a tray that gets inserted into a device. I hope that Apple conceded the point, and the notch based design won out.


     


    No, it doesn't… I've seen several non-tray designs. A tray is certainly not required. I hope Apple did not concede the point, for the sake of everyone else's phones. The iPhone is going to use a tray, but everyone else will default to push-push, which is a horrible idea for this sort of thing.

  • Reply 14 of 59

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    The iPhone is going to use a tray, but everyone else will default to push-push, which is a horrible idea for this sort of thing.



     


    Why is push-push a horrible idea?  The tray is not a huge problem, but having to hunt for a paper clip the few times I've needed to swap SIMs between iPhones with my wife is irritating. 

  • Reply 15 of 59
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by GregInPrague View Post

    Why is push-push a horrible idea?


     


    The idea of designing a thing that you remove once every two years around a technology designed to facilitate daily removal is laughable.


     


    Never mind the dirt that will get in there… unless you have a door or stupid little piece of rubber over it. Which then forces you to design your phone around the door and the depth of the SIM area is increased to the same as if you had used a tray in the first place. Not to mention that I don't understand how having the hardware needed for the push-push feature could take up less space than a bare slot with pin contacts ready for a tray to be pushed in.


     


    Never mind also that no inset tab is needed for push-push, as evidenced by any push-push SD card implementation. Their design is an excuse to get new patents and have total control. Apple just made the existing design smaller.

  • Reply 16 of 59
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,085member


    Niiiice. 

  • Reply 17 of 59
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    ... The fourth form factor (4FF) card will be 40 percent smaller than the current smallest SIM card ...... Apple's nano-SIM design is about a third smaller than MicroSIM ...


     


    40% or 33.3%?  Not much savings either way I guess.  


     


    The really interesting part of this story is the politics (Nokia's hissy fit etc.), the technology is kind of a fail.  


    IMO Apple's original proposal was almost the only change worth making. 


     


    Edit: Another mistake in the article is that ETSI has only announced the size of the new nanoSIM, and the competing designs are all the same size, so to say "Apple's design has won" is not necessarily correct.  Also, even if it does turn out to be the modified Apple proposal, it would be more correct to call it the Apple/Motorola/RIM design, not the "Apple design."

  • Reply 18 of 59
    jd_in_sbjd_in_sb Posts: 1,483member
    Apple said that the notch was a bad idea because it toolk away needed space on the card for data
  • Reply 19 of 59
    majjomajjo Posts: 574member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


     


    The idea of designing a thing that you remove once every two years around a technology designed to facilitate daily removal is laughable.


     


    Never mind the dirt that will get in there… unless you have a door or stupid little piece of rubber over it. Which then forces you to design your phone around the door and the depth of the SIM area is increased to the same as if you had used a tray in the first place. Not to mention that I don't understand how having the hardware needed for the push-push feature could take up less space than a bare slot with pin contacts ready for a tray to be pushed in.


     


    Never mind also that no inset tab is needed for push-push, as evidenced by any push-push SD card implementation. Their design is an excuse to get new patents and have total control. Apple just made the existing design smaller.



    while it is true that youll probably never change sim cards in the usa, the same cant be said, nor should it be assumed for the rest of the world.


     


    i still dont understand the argument aganist dust and dirt getting in there. with the card in place, there should be almost no room for anything to get in. . you dont seem to take issue with dirt getting into your uncovered docking port or headphone jack, so why focus on this.


     


    as i understand it, the notch was more about locking it in place in  push pull config than actually being  not able to implemt it.

  • Reply 20 of 59
    emig647emig647 Posts: 2,402member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


     


    The idea of designing a thing that you remove once every two years around a technology designed to facilitate daily removal is laughable.


     


    Never mind the dirt that will get in there… unless you have a door or stupid little piece of rubber over it. Which then forces you to design your phone around the door and the depth of the SIM area is increased to the same as if you had used a tray in the first place. Not to mention that I don't understand how having the hardware needed for the push-push feature could take up less space than a bare slot with pin contacts ready for a tray to be pushed in.


     


    Never mind also that no inset tab is needed for push-push, as evidenced by any push-push SD card implementation. Their design is an excuse to get new patents and have total control. Apple just made the existing design smaller.



    Exactly. 


     


    There are plenty of ways to design around this with it not having a notch. Was just an excuse so they could maintain patents. Now no patents / excuses on something that everyone has to use. Win win imo.

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