At its 55th meeting held on 31 May and 1 June 2012 in Osaka, Japan, ETSI's Smart Card Platform Technical Committee agreed a new form factor for the UICC, popularly known as the SIM card. Today's SIM card designs take up a significant amount of space inside a mobile device. This space is more and more valuable in today's handsets which deliver an ever increasing number of features. The fourth form factor (4FF) card, also called nano-SIM, will be 40 % smaller than the current smallest SIM card design (micro-SIM aka 3FF), at 12.3 mm wide by 8.8 mm high and 0.67 mm thick. It can be packaged and distributed in a way that is backwards compatible with existing SIM card designs.
Nano-SIM card proposal by German G&D as shown during the recent Mobile World Congress and and favored by Apple.
As the ETSI mentioned in its press release, the new design will offer the same functionality as all current SIM cards but this also means that Apple has won the fight over Nokia and Motorola, which suggested a different, more microSD card looking SIM card design.
Today's mobile phones and tablets are using SIM cards to securely associate the mobile device with a customer account, preventing fraud and ensuring that calls are correctly routed to customers. It is an essential security feature of mobile networks, and is integrated into every GSM, UMTS and LTE device. Over 25 billion SIM card and derivatives have been produced so far, and the industry continues to issue over 4.5 billion SIM cards each year.
The new form factor was adopted by industry with the involvement of major mobile network operators, smart card suppliers and mobile device manufacturers. The new design will be published in due course in ETSI's TS 102 221 specification, freely available like all ETSI standards from the ETSI website.
Cheers ~ Arne