Micro SIM, Mini SIM, Nano SIM, eSIM, iSIM: What are the Differences?

We all know the SIM card, an essential component of our phones that allows us to access telephone networks as well as to navigate in 3G, 4G, or even 5G. But do you know the difference between Micro SIM, Mini SIM, Nano SIM, eSIM, or even iSIM? To help you understand them better, we explain everything in this article.

The different models of current SIM cardstypes of SIM cards

The Mini SIM

First significant reduction of the “large format” SIM card, the mini-SIM is the chip that we know best. Democratized at the time of the rise of 3G, this 2.5 x 1.5 cm card in the emblematic format is still extremely widespread today and is compatible with most smartphones on the market. It remains the standard generally provided by operators.

The Micro SIM

With the arrival of the iPhone and the development of smartphones with a more impressive performance, it became necessary to miniaturize the SIM card further to make room for other components. The Micro-SIM is, therefore, smaller than the Mini-SIM, with 10 millimeters less in length and 3 millimeters in width. But significantly more memory, which climbs between 32 and 128 KB, to store more data and allow you to save more settings. A necessary change with the evolution of mobile networks.

The Nano SIM card

The Nano SIM format is an even greater miniaturization of the SIM chip, with dimensions of 1.23 cm x 0.88 cm and a thickness of only 0.67 mm. A parameter appreciated by manufacturers at a time when phones are getting thinner and thinner. Long favored by Apple, the Nano SIM standard is now very common on many phones and tablets on the market.

eSIM, iSIM: virtual SIM cards

In addition to these ever smaller SIM cards, a less common alternative is beginning to gain popularity among manufacturers and telephone operators: the virtual SIM card! Here, no more physical chips. The SIM is integrated as a component of the phone, hence the name of embedded SIM (eSIM). The subscriber and the operator data are therefore stored directly in this dedicated component. It is no longer necessary to insert a physical chip.

A direct evolution of the eSIM, the iSIM is a new generation of integrated virtual cards. This time, the SIM is soldered directly into the phone’s processor! Therefore, there is no longer a need to provide a dedicated compartment for the virtual SIM. It becomes an integral part of one of the essential components of the smartphone. An even greater space saver for phone manufacturers.eSIM

Virtual SIM card: advantages and disadvantages

Although not all devices are yet compatible with the virtual SIM card (eSIM or iSIM), more and more operators are offering this option. It is generally sufficient to request it when creating the line. (or during the subscription).

There are many logistical advantages on both the operator and subscriber side. There is no longer any need to produce and send a physical object. You can activate or deactivate the line more easily and quickly. The change of operator is also simplified, as well as the possibility of having a double line on the same telephone. In addition, the eSIM option is necessary for accessories, such as certain tablets or smartwatches that have no port for a physical SIM card.

On the other hand, some operators now charge for the virtual card option, which can be a hindrance for some subscribers.

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