Apple's modified nano-SIM revealed

Could this mean Nokia's design is in trouble in nano-SIM standard battle?

Apple has modified its nano-SIM design to eliminate Nokia's arguments against it. The new design was revealed at the CTIA tradeshow in New Orleans, where SIM card maker Giesecke & Devrient was showing the new nano-SIM off.

Apple has been battling with Nokia, Research In Motion and Motorola Mobility over the nano-SIM standard, as the ETSI (European Telecommunications Standard Institue) decided which card future smartphones and tablets will use.

The Verge reports that Giesecke & Devrient were showing off the new 4FF (fourth form factor) standard, dubbed nano-SIM, that Apple has designed. There was no sign of a competing design from Nokia, but G&D told The Verge "we work with everybody," when asked if they were on Apple's side.

Nokia believes that its design, which is backed by RIM and Motorola, is technically superior to Apples, because it has completely different dimensions from today's micro-SIM cards, and so would prevent jamming if users tried to force it into devices.

However, the nano-SIM shown at CTIA has been modified from Apple's original design, G&D told The Verge: "A small amount of plastic has been added around the edges of the electrical contacts, making the new nano-SIM just long enough so that it can't be forced lengthwise into an incompatible socket." Apple's modifications could mean that Nokia's design is in trouble.

G&D say that the ETSI began voting on the 4FF standard in mid-April, and the voting will end mid-May. Voting was originally scheduled to begin in 2011, but was pushed back to 29 March, and then again following further disputes between Apple and Nokia.

On 26 March, Apple sent a letter to ETSI, saying its proposed nano-SIM will be royalty-free. Nokia wasn't impressed by Apple's offer, and said: "We are not aware of any Apple Intellectual Property which considers essential to its nano-SIM proposal. In light of this, Apple's proposal for royalty-free licensing seems no more than an attempt to devalue the intellectual property of others.

Research In Motion was also unhappy with Apple, and fought back by sending its own letter to the standards group complaining about Apple's tactics in the battle.

When the nano-SIM card eventually becomes standardised, its smaller size will free up room for additional memory and larger batteries, helping phone vendors create thinner devices, according to Giesecke & Devrient.

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Ashleigh Allsopp

Macworld U.K.
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