SIM wars – what does the future form factor hold?

Last updated: 20 March 2014

Everybody knows there is an ongoing battle of the devices. While various incarnations of the smartphone have existed for years, it can be argued that once Apple launched the first iPhone, it ignited the current market we see, with other handset manufacturers beginning to compete and develop their own versions.

Now, fan groups abound for different devices, operating systems and apps, with many an enthusiast asking their peers: “Are you Apple or Android?”

There is far more to a smart device than the outside case (handset) or the operating system, however, with a large part of the power coming from the SIM – the Subscriber Identity Module. The smart card which features in every GSM mobile device is often compared to a mini computer and, as with all technologies of this century, is being evolved into the tiniest and yet most powerful computer yet.

As with the variety the battle of the devices showcases – from handset to operating system to mobile network operator and more – there is also a huge variety in the form factor. Depending on size, shape, thickness and more, the different SIM cards vary from 2FF (MiniSIM), 3FF (MicroSIM) and there is also a new form factor on the market, called 4FF (NANOSIM). Smaller and more convenient, it gives manufacturer brands the opportunity to include a bigger battery or create a slimmer device, offering a better end-user experience.

Many handset manufacturers have already started adopting MicroSIMs, but the next evolution in form factor (4FF) is set to introduce a new type of complexity. While combination cards have been designed, in addition to adaptors, to help different SIM cards interoperate with different handsets, the multiple form factors create ever increasing headaches for device manufacturers, mobile network operators and retailers as they have to grapple with huge inventories, complex logistics operations and more.

As we anticipate a new wave of smartphones that will no doubt feature 4FF, mobile operators and handset manufacturers need a simple way of ensuring they can deliver the latest technology to their customers. They also need to ensure they are ETSI (the European Telecommunications Standards Institute) compliant.

Well, there is a solution to this complex conundrum which will allow handset manufacturers and mobile operators to offer customers what they want, whether the old favorites or the sparkly new form factors (4FF) – with SIMTrio. An innovative product that will simplify logistics, we have developed the ‘Rolex’ of form factors. All handset manufacturers and mobile network operators need to do now is focus on what the customer wants.

The form factor debate, as with the handset or operating system preference, is unlikely to go away. Time to face up to it with a simplifying management system. Come and find out more at CARTES in Hall 3.

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