European mobile operators are reportedly stocking up on nano-SIMs, the smaller Sim card design set to be used in Apple’s next iPhone.

The Financial Times reports that Apple’s European operator partners have begun placing orders with chipmakers for the nano-SIM. In June, Apple won the battle with Nokia, Research In Motion and Motorola Mobility over the design for nano-SIM standard.

The new SIM card is 40 per cent smaller than the current smallest SIM card, leaving more room for other components in future iPhone designs. Other mobile manufacturers will be able to use the nano-SIM in their devices too.

The FT believes that the stockpiling mobile operators indicate that the launch of the sixth-generation is nearing closer, calling it “one of the clearest signals yet of an impending launch.”

The report claims that “two sources with knowledge of the situation,” have said that operators expect to see a thinner iPhone that implements the new SIM design, and therefore have begun storing millions of the cards in warehouses ahead of the iPhone 5’s launch.

Major networks are keen to ensure that they don’t get caught off guard like they did with the introduction of the micro SIM in the iPhone 4 and original iPad, says the FT’s article.

It is expected that the next iPhone, dubbed the iPhone 5, will arrive this autumn alongside iOS 6. The iPhone 5 could have a thinner profile, a 4in display, and a metal back, according to the latest rumours and leaked engineering samples from China.

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