Why the SIM card will disappear soon?

ByJulio Ventura 2019-06-06 1605

It's just a mini processor with a small memory on a piece of plastic. But without a SIM card there would be no mobile calling, no short messages and no data connections. It could become superfluous in the future.

At the beginning of the 90s, the SIM still had the format of a bank card. "But it was quickly replaced by the Mini SIM," explains Henning Gajek of the telecommunications portal "Teltarif.de". Despite its name, the Mini-SIM is the largest variant today. It measures 2.5 x 1.5 centimetres and is mainly used in simple mobile phones.

Then there is the Micro-SIM, with its dimensions (1.5 x 1.2 cm) an intermediate size that Gajek says is being used less and less. "The newer devices actually all work with Nano-SIM." This measures 1.23 x 0.88 cm and consists almost exclusively of the chip, the plastic bezel is wafer-thin. The providers usually deliver all card sizes on one carrier. The required format is pressed out of the pre-punched form or put together again from the pressed out parts.

Small cards should avoid tons of plastic waste

And also the carriers shrink. Many providers have halved their size, they are only as big as half a bank card. In 2019, for example, Telekom wants to save up to 17.5 tons of plastic waste, Telefonica even 30 tons annually.

SIM cards for use in the medium to long term are a phase-out model anyway. The reason for this is called "eSIM". This is a chip already built into the device. Users will then only receive a code with which they can activate their tariff profile. This should also make the change of contract easier.

eSIMs do not only make sense in smartphones or tablets - although only a few top smartphones currently support eSIM, as Gajek says. Wearables such as smartwatches or fitness trackers are also worth using. With an activated profile, for example, you can make phone calls directly with a Smartwatch - without a connected smartphone.

eSIM from the network operators

And what about the network operators? Telefonica offers eSIM to all contract customers as an option. At Telekom, on the other hand, both term and prepaid contracts are eSIM-capable. And with Vodafone, eSIM is an option for contract customers. A spokesman explained, however, that the company is also working on an offer for prepaid customers.

Most eSIM smartphones currently also have a slot for SIM cards and thus offer useful dual SIM functions - as do phones with two SIM card slots. With dual SIM, you can be reached on one phone under two phone numbers and use one for business and the other privately. Or you can buy a local SIM card on holiday to make cheaper calls or surf the Internet.

With Dual SIM you can jump back and forth between the different providers and tariffs. "If you're off work at 6 p.m. and don't want to receive any more business calls, you simply shut down the number until the next morning," says Gajek.

Two card slots available

Most dual SIM-enabled smartphones today have two card slots, one of which is usually a hybrid slot, as Andreas Seeger from the trade magazine "Connect" explains. This means that the second slot can accommodate a SIM or memory card. Seeger advises those who don't want to decide at some point between a memory expansion and a second SIM card when the phone is "full" should buy a device with sufficient internal memory.

Another type of SIM is called Multi-SIM. Behind the term is the possibility of using a contract on several devices, for example on a second or even third mobile phone or also on a tablet or a Smartwatch.

The additional SIM cards required for this are rarely included in contracts and usually cost extra, Henning Gajek knows - per eSIM profile or per SIM card usually around five euros extra. You can then be reached everywhere under the same telephone number and use the contractual services on all devices.

Problems with the Multi-SIM

Correct settings are important for Multi-SIM. "You have to decide which device you want to receive SMS on," says Gajek. If, for example, you are using the "wrong" smartphone and then need an SMS-TAN for a bank transfer, you have a problem.

Which can also be annoying with Multi-SIM: Not all providers are able to change the fact that all devices ring when a call is received, complains Andreas Seeger. The configuration options of Multi-SIM are generally very different.

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