How do I cut a SIM Card so it fits into a new Nano-SIM card slot used by the iPhone 5/5s or iPad Air is a question some keen Apple hackers like to ask.

While most mobile phones use the huge SIM cards, the iPhone and iPad use a newer Nano-SIM. This Nano-SIM is much smaller than a regular SIM. The Nano-SIM slot the same chip, the Nano-SIM is simply surrounded by less card. While most people shell out for a brand new Nano-SIM card possible to trim down a SIM card to turn it into a Nano-SIM. This homemade Nano-SIM card can be used in an iPhone 5 or iPhone 5s.

Cutting down a SIM-card and turning it into a Nano-SIM is a good trick to know because it enables you to use your current SIM inside a new iPhone model without ordering a new SIM. You may also get a better deal on a regular SIM card than on an iPhone 5 Nano-SIM.

This tutorial shows you how to cut a SIM card down to size.

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Warning! Cut your SIM card down at your own risk

We have performed this trick a few times, and cut down a SIM card on a few occasions now, and it has worked in all but two instances. That’s not actually great odds. And one instance was a bit of a headache because the SIM card could no longer be used at all (not even in the original phone). Please remember that there are always risks involved with home modifications and don’t cut up your SIM card unless you’re happy for it not to work (in this case you’ll need to get a replacement from your phone manufacturers, or order a new SIM card). Proceed at your own risk.

To create a Nano-SIM you need

To cut your SIM Card down to Nano-SIM size you need the following equipment:

  • iPhone 5 or iPhone 5s (unlocked)
  • Standard or Micro SIM card
  • Nano SIM card (for measurement)
  • Pencil
  • SIM Ejector Tool (or Paperclip)
  • Small pair of straight scissors
  • Nail file

Once you have all these to hand it’s time to get started.

Removing the Nano-SIM

Use the SIM card ejector tool (or a straightened paper clip) to open the SIM-Card slot on your iPhone 5/5S. Inside you might find a stock Nano-SIM. You’ll need this. If you do not have a Nano-SIM inside your iPhone you should borrow one from a friend’s iPhone to help you size up your regular SIM.

Regular SIM vs nano-SIM

Here we can see a regular SIM card (right) compared to a nano-SIM (left):

A Nano-SIM compared to a SIM card

It appears much smaller, and the whole of the Nano-SIM can fit inside of the metal on the regular SIM card. Because of this you might think the SIM cards use different technology. But they aren’t, the Nano-SIM is the same type of SIM card as the regular SIM, it’s just had all the excess trimmed off. Most of that excess is card but some of it is also the silicon.

Spotting SIM card guidelines

You may see some reports online that suggest you measure the SIM card with a ruler. This used to work with the old-style Micro-SIM cards, but it doesn’t work when creating a new Nano-SIM. For this you need to place a Nano-SIM over the metal of the old SIM and line it up by eye.

Some SIM cards, handily, have guide marks on the metal of the sim. These help you line up the Nano SIM on the regular SIM card and provide you with an area to cut out.

Sim card guide marks

How to measure up your SIM card

Place the Nano-SIM on top of the regular SIM with the cut-corner on both SIM cards in the top-right (as shown in the picture). Use the guide lines to line up the metal of the SIM card in the same central position on your SIM card. Make sure you line up the central metal part of the SIM card and not the surrounding plastic. Different SIM cards have different metal vs card dimensions, so be sure to measure aging just the metal area. You should be looking to line up the central part of the metal on your full sized SIM card.

With the Nano-SIM lined up against the regular SIM draw around the Nano-SIM (and on to the regular SIM) with a sharp pencil. This create a guideline for you to cut around. Do not worry about marking the corner, pay attention to marking the sides of the Nano-SIM accurately.

Measure up SIM card

Cutting your SIM

Softly, softly catchy monkey is the phrase you want to use here. It is better to trim back your SIM card a little bit at a time and not too much. Then use a file to filed down the edges. We usually start with the top piece of card and the sides before carefully clipping the bottom (you can also just file down the bottom).

We are using a pair of small nail scissors to cut through the SIM card. It is typically as easy to cut through the metal of the SIM card as it is the plastic card surrounding it. You can also use regular scissors but the smaller pair offer more accuracy. If you are using nail scissors be sure to use a pair that is straight and not with a slight curve. It’s better to trim it slightly large and squeezed it in, rather than cut off too much and it be wiggling around inside the SIM card slot. Trim off the corner manually.

Cutting SIM Card

Measure into the Nano-SIM tray

Now place the cut up SIM card on top of the Nail-SIM tray from the iPhone 5/5s. It should be too large to fit into the Nano-SIM tray. This is a good thing. Now you need to trim the SIM card down bit by bit until it fits snugly into the tray. Now slide the Nano-SIM card into the iPhone.

That should be it. Turn the iPhone on and iOS should say Searching in the top-left, followed by the name of your service provider.

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