A SIM (Subscriber Identification Module), easily recognized as the golden electronic chip surrounded by a rim of plastic varying in size, is the heart of any mobile phone. Other people might call it UICC (Universal Integrated Circuit Card), but regardless of the name, it’s an invaluable asset in today’s technology-driven world. It provides all of the basic functionality, such as keeping all of your precious contacts, and allows you to call, text, and even access the Internet wirelessly, wherever you are. However, in most cases, people only realize that not all SIM cards are made the same once you decided to upgrade your smartphone. It also works the other way – downgrading to a second-hand phone can create an issue as well. Here’s how you know whether the Micro-SIM card is the right choice.
What makes the Micro-SIM cards different than other types of SIM cards?
We’ve already mentioned that the base of a SIM card is comprised of 2 parts. The first, an electronic chip, is what makes it “tick”. It’s where all your contacts are stored, and what makes your phone number unique from any other user on the mobile network. The chip is intentionally kept almost identical throughout all types of SIM cards and only slightly modified by your local mobile network operator. The other part is the rim around the chip made of an insulating material, most commonly plastic or PVC. It provides no technical benefits but prevents the chip from coming into contact with another electronic inside of your smartphone and causing a short-circuit. With that said, it’s obvious that any amount of plastic, as long as it’s present, will do the same job. That is exactly where the difference between different SIM card types lies.
What’s the size of a Micro-SIM card?
Micro-SIM card is the third smallest type of SIM cards and is appropriately called 3FF or 3rd Form Factor. The oldest model, Full-size SIM, also known as 1FF, measures 85.6 mm x 53.98 mm x 0.76 mm or 3.37 in x 2.125 in x 0.030 in, which saw a steep reduction in its improved form factor – Mini-SIM or 2FF. It measures 25 mm x 15 mm x 0.76 mm or 0.98 in x 0.59 in x 0.030 in – evidently, not as big of a change in when compared to Micro-SIM card, which is 15 mm x 12 mm x 0.76 mm or 0.59 in x 0.47 in x 0.030 in in size.
Micro-SIM cards became extremely popular among the growing Internet userbase. Since its prototype introduction in 2003, and the introduction of a slot itself with Apple iPhone 4 in June 2010, a plethora of other manufacturers adopted the same standard. This also brought a huge interest among people that sought to upgrade to a newer smartphone, but still used a Mini-SIM card. Impatient and handy people used a method that we will describe below, which is admittedly not for everyone.
Compatibility of Micro-SIM cards
Micro-SIM card was intentionally designed for backward compatibility since it was smaller, and the electronic chip remained in the same place. In most cases, SIM cards were received as Full-Size SIM cards, with its plastic pre-cut exactly in the shape of a Mini-SIM and Micro-SIM cards. This meant that it could be „punched back in“ to a Full-Size SIM or a Mini-SIM card if you had to downgrade to an older model. While not uncommon by any means, people were primarily interested in purchasing a newer model and keeping up with technology. With that being said, there are 2 other well-known and newer SIM types after it – Nano-SIM and Embedded-SIM cards.
For the latter, there is not much you can do – as the chip itself is soldered onto the motherboard of the smartphone itself, and is not replaceable. However, the Nano-SIM standard has overtaken the world in late 2012. Obviously – you simply cannot fit a Micro-SIM card into a slot that’s much smaller. Here’s where the method we’ve foreshadowed comes in. If it’s smaller, can’t you just grab a pair of scissors or an X-ACTO blade and cut it to size? Yes, you definitely can. While it is risky, since you can damage the chip, there’s nothing stopping you from marking the lines according to sizes above, and just DIY (Do-It-Yourself).
Luckily, for people that aren’t too sure about their abilities, there are 2 more options. The first one is the most obvious one – go to your mobile service operator, and ask them to provide you with a Nano-SIM card. It will look exactly the same as your current full-Size SIM card, only there will be 1 more cut-out to punch out. However, unless you can upload your contacts and text messages to the Internet, you’ll have to re-enter them manually. The second option walks a fine line between these two – there are pre-made SIM cutters that are already measured to size. All you have to do is line up your Micro-SIM card, and press down hard to cut it.
Can I use two Micro-SIM cards at once?
On a model that’s advertised as a dual SIM, you certainly can, and without having to physically switch places every time you need to make a change. A simple reboot of your smartphone will do the trick. However, you might face certain inconvenience, depending on the model of your smartphone. For example, you won’t be able to call, text, or access the Internet on both SIM cards at once, and will have to reboot to pick which one will be used. In addition, some models will limit your Internet speed to 4G/3G on your primary SIM card, and only 3G/2G on the secondary card.
Do I need to upgrade my Micro-SIM card to a newer type?
As mentioned, it is certainly not the newest or smallest type of SIM in use. However, if you don’t have a newer phone, made after 2012, or you have a cheap Chinese re-brand or knock-off, there is no need to risk damaging the chip on your card, or for your operator to provide one. There is nothing to gain in terms of data storage such as contacts or text messages, as rarely any user exceeds the maximum number of couple hundred kilobytes anyway.