To connect to a mobile network, mobile broadband devices, including any tablets that allow mobile connectivity, as well as all smartphones and other types of mobile phones, require a SIM card. This includes feature phones and other types of mobile phones.
But despite the fact that you almost certainly own at least one piece of technology that requires a SIM card, you should know that not all SIM cards are the same. SIM cards are available in three distinct sizes and four primary varieties.
In the following paragraphs, we will explain what those three various sizes are, which one you are most likely to require, how to adapt a SIM card to a different size, if you need a new SIM card for 5G, and what an eSIM is, and basically teach you everything else you need to know about SIM cards.
Table of Contents
There are a variety of various sizes of SIM cards because it is becoming increasingly desirable to have smaller SIM cards. This is due to the fact that having smaller SIM cards frees up more space in a phone (or other devices) for other technology without causing the phone to become larger.
Yet, this does mean that the most frequent SIM cards are a lot smaller than a conventional SIM card; however, the previous, larger SIM card sizes are still in use as well, particularly in some older devices as well as in some devices that don't need to make the most of their space.
There are four primary varieties of SIM cards, which can be broken down as follows:
The smallest size of SIM card is called a nano SIM, and it was first released in 2012. This makes nano SIMs the most up-to-date SIM card format (other than eSIMs, which we'll discuss later down). This is really little more than a tiny integrated circuit with nearly nothing else around it, and the type of this component can be found in the overwhelming majority of current gadgets.
The most common size today is the micro SIM card. These are encased in a larger amount of plastic than a nano-SIM but less amount than a regular SIM. In addition to that, the chip that they use is significantly bigger. In the world of smartphones, you may require one of these if your device is older than six years; nevertheless, their use has become increasingly uncommon in recent times. In point of fact, they didn't make their debut until 2003, which means they're already quite old.
Even though it's considered to be the "standard," the standard SIM card size is really the largest SIM card size that's now in use; nevertheless, it's also the size that's utilized the least. It has a significant quantity of plastic surrounding the chip, and it is typically only found in older models of mobile devices (and some other devices).
It was initially released in 1996, and because it is the oldest of them, it served as the standard for quite some time, hence the name.
It's important to note that standard SIM cards are also sometimes called as ordinary SIM cards or mini SIM cards. The latter name comes from the fact that there was an even larger SIM card available that was the size of a credit card when these began, but it's no longer utilized.
A combi SIM, also known as a multi-SIM or trio SIM, is a SIM card that combines all three standard sizes of SIM cards onto a single card, making it simple to remove whatever size is required.
Because a cell network would most likely send you a SIM card of this sort, you won't need to bother about making sure you request the appropriate size for your SIM card. Note, however, that once you pop out a SIM card of a particular size, you will no longer be able to make it any larger. If you ever need to move up a size, you will either require an adapter, which will be discussed further down in this section, or you will need to obtain a new SIM card.
The dimensions of each SIM card type are laid out in more detail in the chart that can be found below. You'll notice that combi SIMs are not included, and the reason for this is that when they are at their full size, they are the same size as a conventional SIM card. However, if you pop out a smaller piece of the card, it will match the size of the applicable SIM card size shown below.
A comparison of the different sizes of SIM cards. Please be aware that standard SIMs and micro SIMs are both 0.09 millimeters thicker than nano SIMs.
The only difference between these several sorts of SIM cards is their size; there is no other distinction between them. In the event that there were other distinctions, the use of combi SIMs would not be feasible.
There are many factors that will determine the type of SIM card that you have. If you have recently acquired a SIM card, there is a good chance that it is a combi SIM because that is the type that most networks distribute.
If it doesn't work, it's probably a nano SIM because those have been the most prevalent type for over six years now. The exception to this is if you've had the SIM card for a very long time.
However, if you want to know for sure, all you have to do is look at the photo that is located near the top of this post and compare the SIM card kinds to the ones that are on your phone. Keep in mind that a normal SIM is also referred to as a micro SIM.
The type of SIM card that you require will be determined by the device you are using; nonetheless, the same line of reasoning holds true for most contemporary mobile phones: you will need a nano SIM. However, because networks offer combi SIMs, you shouldn't have to specify which size you need; simply place an order for one of those, and after it arrives, you can remove the SIM card that is the appropriate size for your phone.
If the SIM card that you have is the wrong size for your phone, the best thing to do is to simply request a new one from your network and get your number changed to it. This is the simplest course of action to take whenever it is available.
Having said that, there are other choices available. You can get a SIM card cutting tool in the event that your existing SIM card is too big for your phone. These have a design that is reminiscent of a stapler, but what they actually do is trim your card to the appropriate dimensions and contours.
If, on the other hand, the size of your SIM card does not match the requirements of your phone, you can purchase a SIM converter. You can insert your SIM card into this plastic frame and by doing so, effectively increase the size of your SIM card to either the micro or normal size.
Both of these tools are available for purchase, and some independent phone accessories stores and other establishments of a similar nature also provide cutting services for SIM cards. Cutting the card, on the other hand, always presents the possibility of causing damage to it, which is why we do not recommend doing so.
There is a third type of SIM card, which differs from the ones described above in more ways than size alone, despite the fact that the majority of smartphones and other related devices now use the SIM card types listed above.
An embedded SIM card, also known as an eSIM (the "e" stands for "embedded"), cannot be removed from a phone or other electronic device once it has been installed. This effectively makes them even more compact, as there is no longer a requirement for the detachable container that houses the SIM card slot.
As a result, there is more room for other forms of technology. However, the primary benefits of eSIMs include the fact that they make it theoretically much simpler to switch between networks and plans. Since you can't change the SIM card that's already in your device, it would need to be possible to switch networks while keeping the same card so that there would be no need to switch to a new one. This is where eSIMs come in handy.
In addition, it is possible to store various networks and numbers on an eSIM; hence, it is possible, in theory, to have many numbers saved on a single SIM card. In addition, you won't have to bother about sorting through all of the various SIM card sizes that were described above.
Already, certain devices make use of electronic SIM cards. These include the iPhone 12 and 11 series, the Samsung Galaxy S21 series, the Google Pixel 5, and the Google Pixel 4 series, along with a few more phone models, as well as wearables like the Apple Watch 6 and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3. However, the vast majority of phones that have a slot for an eSIM card also have a slot for a traditional SIM card, as eSIMs are not yet supported by all networks, and traditional SIM cards are still widely used.
If you already have a 5G phone and a 5G plan, then your existing SIM card should be able to connect to 5G networks without any problems. In most circumstances, you will not be required to get a new SIM card in order to access 5G networks. When your network recognizes that you are attempting to connect to 5G, it may send a software update to your SIM card. However, this is the only action that will take place.
Having said that, O2 asserts that in order to use its network at the time this article was written, you will require a new 5G SIM card. This won't always be the case because the network now routinely offers 5G SIM cards, but if, for instance, you purchased a 5G phone from the network before October 17th, 2019, then you'll need to convert to a new 5G card.
However, it appears like O2 is an oddity in this regard because Three, EE, and Vodafone have all stated that your existing SIM card will be compatible with 5G. There are mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) that, like Tesco Mobile and Virgin Mobile, state that you won't need to switch your SIM card, while there are other MVNOs that, at the time of this writing, don't specify either way. Check with your network if you have any concerns about this.
It is important to note, while we are discussing this topic, that even if you upgrade to a 5G SIM card or plan, you will still be able to connect to both 4G and 3G networks. This means that you will not lose access to previous technologies even if you will be using more recent ones.
If you are interested in more articles like this, here’s one about what types of batteries we use in our mobile phone.