We taught you to destroy a SIM card when you no longer plan to use it. This will protect data that’s on it and prevents anyone from playing around with it. But intentional destruction isn’t the only method to get the same result. Accidental damage is even more common. And, unfortunately, so is malicious intent, whether by those close to you or strangers on the prowl. This typically results in you having to suffer a glitch here and there or having to buy a new SIM card. So, to help you know what to look for, here’s how SIM card gets damaged.
1. Improper insertion
Perhaps the most common reason SIM card gets damaged is inexperience when inserting the SIM card. The result can be any of the next 3 types of damage. Scratching and cutting are common if you’re trying to slide a SIM card in despite its inability to go in smoothly. Even if you somehow stuff it in, further damage can come from other phone components that rub against it. And, if you cut it too small while trying to reduce its SIM card size, the SIM card will move around in its slot. This not only risks physical damage but also electrical if the MOS chip touches or gets close to other electrical components.
We mentioned scratching that comes from plastic or metal parts of the device itself. But what if you’re an individual who needs to carry 2 or more SIM cards for swapping between personal or business use? If unprotected, they are prone to scratching by other SIM cards, credit cards, keys, bottle openers, pocket knives, and all kinds of debris and items in people’s wallets, bags, backpacks, or compartments. Even a simple zipper can scratch the SIM card to the point of failure.
As we said already, shoving it into the SIM card tray can cause it to break. Additionally, it can be dropped or crushed/snapped by heavier items, even you. Just imagine it’s in your back pocket while you’re sitting down – this will put a dent or crack it. Some people also try to part smaller SIMs from a full-size SIM card with sharp objects or excessive force. Others put a few scratches and try to reduce its size by bending, which is also a disaster waiting to happen.
Speaking of SIM card size reduction, cutting it with scissors or lancet into standard dimensions is the most popular DIY method. Simultaneously, it’s a frequent reason SIM card gets damaged irreparably. Even though the plastic rim is there to insulate the MOS chip, cutting too much, too rough, or at a weird angle can be hard to glue together. Also, manually repairing or tweaking a damaged MOS chip is extremely hard without a microscope.
5. Water damage
SIM cards are often marketed as waterproof. But in reality, they’re mainly splash-proof, which means a short dip into water and at a certain depth with a complete dry-out won’t cause damage. But what if it spent more time submerged in it? Also, because the MOS chip is an electrical component, it is vulnerable to seawater and other water minerals, which can cause corrosion. And while you can clean a SIM card from corrosion, you might end up marring its surface further.
SIM cards are pretty forgiving when it comes to temperatures because they need to be mass-produced to work around the world. And while this limit is typically between -35°C to +85°C, long exposure to either extreme heat or cold still wreak havoc or shorten its lifespan considerably.
7. SIM swapping
We discussed ways to know if a SIM card is hacked and mentioned 3 techniques they use. Well, the second technique, in particular, can cause physical, electrical, or digital damage. Low-quality SIM card read/write devices can scratch or electrocute the card, and the reading and/or cloning process can corrupt its contents or alter its daily operation.
8. Static electricity or faulty charger and battery
MOS chips can be vulnerable to static electricity. However, the surge of electricity from a faulty phone charger, power outlet, or power network presents a bigger danger. Another way the SIM card gets damaged is from a physically damaged (scratched, bloated, perforated) battery. The electrical charge can damage the chip with or without visible signs, while a battery leak can leave scorch marks or toxic waste.
9. Memory operation failure
Failure of the memory operation in SIM cards can happen naturally. Even long-life SIM cards use EEPROM non-volatile memory that supports approximately 100,000 read/write cycles. After that, individual memory cells begin to fail one by one. Additionally, when we demonstrated how to protect it from hackers, we mentioned malicious SMS that can force your device to transfer data in the background. Well, this puts a massive strain on the SIM card. As such, it can emulate long-term usage, shortening its lifespan by years.