Samsung will switch from eSIM to iSIM

The transformation of standards for SIM cards in smartphones is terribly slow. Apparently, we have eSIM available, but manufacturers still offer slots for nano SIM cards, which are extremely popular. And yet we also have iSIM on the horizon.

Qualcomm on the verge of a revolution?

When it comes to switching from classic SIM cards to eSIM, we are only at the beginning. Although many operators operating in Poland already offer their customers the possibility to use eSIM, it is still more of an exotic than a widespread standard. Google is trying to change that somehow, for example by making it easier to transfer data from one eSIM to another, but eSIM is far from becoming popular. Qualcomm’s plans, which have taken up the topic of newer technology – iSIM – again seem all the more distant.

iSIM differs from eSIM in that although it is also a SIM card built into the smartphone, there is no space for it on the main circuit board of the device. Instead of, it integrates with the processor.

Such a system was already used in a specially modified version Samsung Galaxy ZFlip 3, This was the fruit of Qualcomm’s boisterous iSIM announcements in January last year. Back then, the mobile chip manufacturer conducted a demonstration using the Snapdragon 888 5G mobile processor with an embedded Qualcomm Secure Processing Unit (SPU) and the iSIM operating system provided by Thales.

This year, iSIM went to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor. This version has received GSMA certification, which means that it offers the same level of security as eSIM. However, the iSIM module is much smaller than traditional eSIM – it measures 1mm square (a regular nano SIM card measures 12.3 x 8.8mm).

iSIM (Photo by Thales)

It will be years before iSIM means anything

Qualcomm emphasizes that iSIM is simply better than eSIM – not least because it takes up less space in the smartphone housing that can be used for other purposes. Moving to a newer standard would help maintain good energy efficiency and increase the likelihood of electronic equipment being water and dust resistant.

However, there is a serious problem with iSIM. Unlike eSIM, only Qualcomm is working on it. The company does announce that the first smartphones with iSIM and new Snapdragon processors will hit the market in 2024, but whatever, because not every mobile device will work with a special Qualcomm chip.

While eSIM is currently used in both Apple, Huawei and Samsung devices, iSIM should initially only go to the modified version of Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. Qualcomm reportedly expects iSIM to be present in over 300 million smartphones by 2030, including new members of the Samsung Galaxy family, but this seems to be a very positive estimate.

We will believe when we see.

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