The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) announced today that it has selected a design for the new fourth form factor (4FF/nano-SIM) standard. The 4FF card will measure 12.3mm wide by 8.8mm high, and 0.67mm thick, and can be packaged and distributed in such a way that it will be backwards-compatible with existing SIM designs. The adoption of a nano-SIM will reduce the amount of space needed on a device for the SIM card, as space has become a precious commodity when it comes to smartphones. Manufacturers will now have a bit of extra space in devices to add bigger batteries and the like.
The selected design looks an awful lot like Apple’s originally proposed design, but we don’t know for certain as ETSI has not yet unveiled the final standard. As The Verge reports, Apple’s design is essentially the same technology in today’s existing SIM cards, but shaves off nearly all of the plastic around the edges.
This implementation of the nano-SIM is markedly different from what RIM and Nokia were originally proposing. It was so different that RIM, Nokia, and Motorola all opposed Apple’s original design, stating that Apple’s design would likely result in chips being damaged while being put into devices.
To counter Apple’s proposal, RIM and Motorola submitted a compromised design a few weeks ago aimed at meeting Apple halfway. According to The Verge, this compromise was about 80% Apple, 20% RIM. It featured the same chip dimensions, but added an additional catch in the card which helps lock the card in place and mitigates the need for a tray.
ETSI will be publishing the final nano-SIM design standard “in due course in ETSI’s TS 102 221 specification, freely available like all ETSI standards from the ETSI website.” Once the final design is unveiled by ETSI, we’ll have a better picture as to which design was finally accepted. Though we now have a standard, it’ll be at least a year before we see the new technology make its way into consumer devices.
Update: The Verge is now reporting that Nokia has indicated that they believe the Apple design was chosen for the 4FF standard. No confirmation has yet been given by ETSI.