iPhone 5 nano-SIM

The new nano-SIMs (Subscriber Identitiy Card) being used first by the iPhone 5 have been delivered to stores and are starting to go on sale.

We managed to pick up our first nano-SIM from the Three Store on Oxford Street, around the corner from the Apple Store. 

Three Network nano-SIM

The nano-SIM is physically smaller than the micro-SIM used in the iPhone 4 and 4S models, which itself was smaller than the mini-SIM card used in iPhone 3GS and earlier phones.  (There is also a full-sized SIM card that’s the size of a credit card, incidentally.) 

The new nano-SIM is much smaller than the original SIM card, but packs the same basic functionality: encryption electronics and communication at 9,600 baud. It measures 12.3 x 8.8 x 0.67 mm, so it’s both smaller and thinner than the card it replaces.

This photograph shows all three SIM cards side-by-side. 

nano-SIM size comparison

Aside from the size difference there isn’t, apparantly, any real technical differences between the three cards. The nano-SIM card is technically the same card stripped down in side. It is, apparantly, possible to cut down a micro-SIM to nano-SIM size and end up with a working card. Although you’ll be cutting into the electronic component, the chip that works is only in the centre of the SIM.

We’d advise some caution with this, however. We have cut mini-SIMs down to micro-SIM size in the past, with hit and miss results (some worked, some didn’t). And with the new nano-SIM being thinner than the card it replaces, it may not fit into the iPhone 5 card tray at all. It’s better to pick up a new SIM from a store and organise a transfer of your account. If you really want to cut down your card there is a size chart here (click at your own risk).

See also: iOS 6 review

In an unusual move, Apple was not offering nano-SIMs alongside the iPhone 5 itself as part of its online pre-ordering scheme, so iPhone customers will need to order or pick up a nano-SIM from their store. It is not currently known whether Apple will be selling nano-SIMs from its stores alongside physical purchases of the iPhone 5.

Contrary to some belief the nano-SIM is not an Apple propriety card, but is an open standard (Apple’s backed the standard to opposition from other mobile file manufacturers, and is the first to implement it).

See also: Apple wins battle over nano-SIM standard

Other manufacturers are free to use the nano-SIM cards in their own phones, and the nano-SIM is compatible with larger SIM card formats if you use an adaptor to ensure a correct fit.