A SIM card is proof that something small can still provide an irreplaceable functionality to your life. After all, most of us cannot live without modern technology of having wireless Internet on-the-go or to call and text our friends and family. SIM (Subscriber Identification Module) is a small chip surrounded by a rim of insulating material, typically plastic, that you either insert into the designated spot, or your service provider already does it for you. But what happens when you buy a new smartphone, and the slot has changed from Micro-Sim to Mini-Sim or even Nano-SIM? Here’s how you can successfully make a change.
Quick Summary of Mini SIM
|Mini-SIM Card Size
|25 mm x 15 mm x 0.76 mm or 0.98 in x 0.59 in x 0.030 in
|Usage of Mini-SIM Cards
|Early Apple iPhones, some early Android devices, low-end models, knock-offs
|Differences in Mini-SIM Cards
|Size reduction (height and width), insulating material around the chip, technical capabilities (number of contacts, SMS and MMS storage)
|Compatibility with Other SIMs
|Can be inserted into slots meant for Micro-SIM or Nano-SIM cards with the right adaptations (store visit, DIY process, pre-made SIM cutter)
|Dual Mini-SIM Cards
|Possible to use two Mini-SIM cards in one phone, but usually only one card can be active at a time, requiring a reboot to switch between the two
|Upgrading from Mini-SIM
|Upgrading may be necessary depending on the phone being used; exporting/importing contacts or using pen and paper for manual transfer of contacts may be required
Mini-SIM card size
Mini-SIM cards, also known as 2FF (2nd form factor) cards, have also been called “standard SIM” cards as they were the first majorly downsized model after the Full Size-SIM, which was around the size of a regular credit card. Precisely, from 85.60 mm × 53.98 mm × 0.76 mm or 3.37 in x 2.125 in x 0.030 in (Full-Size SIM) to 25 mm x 15 mm x 0.76 mm or 0.98 in x 0.59 in x 0.030 in. It’s evident that the thickness remained the same, but it was the height and width reduction that allowed the concept of modern smartphones to exist.
Where are Mini-SIM cards used?
In the late 2010s, not widely. The first 3 models of Apple iPhone used it, but those have been deemed obsolete and are only traded in, or bought second-hand. In addition, some of the earliest Android devices, as well as the low-end models and knock-off typically from China also used this standard of SIM cards. So, if you are specifically looking to find a model that does, you’ll have a hard time doing so. This means that you’ll have to settle for a basic feature phone most likely.
What makes Mini-SIM cards different?
In truth, besides size, not a lot. The base chip that provides all the functionality you seek remains pretty much the same. The technical capabilities of a mini-SIM card might be slightly outdated when it comes to the number of contacts, SMS and MMS drafts you can store, but that’s also your older mobile phone’s fault. Luckily, you’ll still be able to save upward of 500 contacts at the very least, which is more than enough. We’ve also mentioned the size, but the size of the SIM chip itself remains the same, it’s only the insulating material around it that’s different. It’s also the second-biggest SIM card, right after a Full-size SIM, and bigger than Micro-Sim, Nano-SIM, and Embedded-SIM.
Can I insert a Mini-SIM card into the slot meant for another type of SIM?
The answer is – depends where. Full-size SIM is no longer in use in today’s smartphones, so you will not encounter this problem. When it comes to newer models such as Micro-SiM and Nano-Sim, there 3 options at your disposal. The easiest one, but the most time consuming is physically going to the store of a mobile service provider. After informing them of the model of the smartphone you’ve bought, they’ll provide a smaller SIM card.
In most cases, it will be the size of a full-size SIM card with your PIN and PUK numbers, but will already have pre-cut shapes of the other types, requiring you to “punch” out the one you require. You’ll still get to keep your number, so there’s no hassle attached to it – waiting for that is the only thing you’ll have to endure.
The lesser popular but nearly instant option is a DIY process. We do not recommend or condone this behavior – but it does exist. Remember how we’ve mentioned that the chip remains the same, it’s only the plastic around it that’s bigger. Well, with the help of a well-written tutorial on the Internet, a ruler, and a pair of scissors or a sharp blade, you can make your own Nano-SiM or Micro-SIM card.
If you are not handy, there is also an option of ordering a pre-made SIM cutter that will ensure the exact size is achieved. It works by lining up the lines, and just pressing down – similar to a hand-held embosser. Technically, you’d also have to sand it down as well, since a mini-SIM card has a thickness of 0.76 mm, while a Nano-SIM card has a thickness of 0.67 mm. In reality, that would not be necessary, and would only increase the risk. Finally, an embedded SIM is out of the question, since that type of card is already present in a smartphone you buy, and soldered onto the board – hence you wouldn’t be doing this in the first place.
Dual Mini-SIM cards
It is entirely possible to use two Mini-SIM cards inside one mobile phone. This option has been extremely popular with people that are businessmen, as it reduces the cost of usage. However, in a majority of phones, even though you can switch between 2 SIM cards, you can only use one card at once, since they typically share the same radio antenna. This is inconvenient since you won’t be able to receive calls, use the Internet, or text on the second SIM while using the first. However, a quick reboot lets you regain access to that ability.
Should I upgrade from a Mini-SIM card?
As mentioned above, if you’re still using a basic feature mobile phone that is used for calling and texting, there’s really no need to. But whether you’re trying to keep up with technology, or only use the basic features of the low-end smartphone, you’ll simply have to. Even a reboot phone, such as Nokia 3310 (2017) uses a Micro-SIM card, which goes to show outdated this one is. If you fear the change – don’t.
Depending on the phone you have, and the one you’re getting, it might be possible to export/import contacts. If not, the old pen and paper might have to do. After all, who needs hundreds of contacts that you no longer regularly call or text? A little minimalism might just be the thing you need to keep your new phone organized.
Mini-SIM Card FAQs
The usage of mini SIM card slots has significantly reduced since the arrival of the smaller SIM card sizes, such as the Micro and Nano SIM card slots. So while purchasing a device, make sure that it is not so old that it comes with a mini SIM card slot. But even if it is, there will not be any significant issues as most of the SIM cards come in different sizes by default.
You cannot use a mini SIM card on a device that requires an embedded SIM card. The reason is self-explanatory. Mini sim cards are physical SIM cards that need to be inserted into devices in order to work. eSIM cards, on the other hand, are not physical SIM cards but are embedded in the mobile devices themselves.
Mini SIM cards are as secure as any other SIM card type. There are no special security features implemented specifically for mini Sim cards. Also, there are no specific security threats that are only possible on a mini SIM card. You can learn more about SIM card security.
Because newer tablets are coming with a nano SIM card slot by default, you might find it difficult to find a tablet that supports Mini-Sim cards. If you still want to use a mini SIM card on a tablet, you might have to go for an older model. You may also purchase adapters that make this possible.