Future iPhones to Have Built in Unified SIM Cards?


A recent report from GigaOM reports that according to European carriers, Apple is planning on having a built in SIM card with next generation iPhones. What does this accomplish? It will allow consumers to select their mobile provider at an Apple retail store, and bypass carrier stores or calling in.

Wait a minute…hasn’t this been the case in Canada since the launch of the iPhone 4? We were lucky enough to have the iPhone 4 available from all three major carriers: Rogers (Fido), Telus, and Bell. Consumers were able to do hardware upgrades (HUP) within Apple Stores and even buy factory unlocked units outright. With this new “built in SIM” system, the process of activating an iPhone will be even easier as the rumour is that an app via the App Store will activate your iPhone.

GigaOM reports:

Sources inside European carriers have reported that Apple has been working with SIM-card manufacturer Gemalto to create a special SIM card that would allow consumers in Europe to buy a phone via the web or at the Apple Store and get the phones working using Apple’s App Store.

It’s rumored that Apple and Gemalto have created a SIM card, which is typically a chip that carries subscriber identification information for the carriers, that will be integrated into the iPhone itself. Then customers will then be able to choose their carrier at time of purchase at the Apple web site or retail store, or buy the phone and get their handset up and running through a download at the App Store as opposed to visiting a carrier store or calling the carrier.

I’m surprised this hasn’t happened yet, as the amalgamation of individual carrier SIM cards would be a blessing. Gone would be the days of fumbling with your carrier’s SIM and traveling overseas could be a lot easier too. By pushing out carrier stores, it will eliminate one extra step to acquire your iPhone.

What do you think? Are built in unified SIMs the way of the future? If it is, we can expect a company like Apple to ‘introduce’ it to the world.



  • I wonder if people aren’t getting their rumours all mixed up.
    CDMA iPhone == built-in identity chip begets rumour for built-in SIM?

    As for activating a generic SIM with an app, as anyone who has tried to activate their iPads cross border between US/Canada knows quite well, that is a disaster waiting to happen.
    Of course the rumour indicates Europe, not the 3rd world mobile backwaters we live in.

  • Cotter

    I don’t think this is a blessing at all. All phones being unlocked (at a minimum once contracts expire) is what we should be pushing for. With my unlocked iPhone 4, I can have SIMs for several countries with some being postpaid and some prepaid. This gives me the most flexibility.

    Going back to a non-removeable SIM is a terrible idea for the frequent traveller.

  • Anonymous

    i think its a terrible idea, because the one thing that has made GSM soar over CDMA/TDMA the last 10 years is the flexibility of being able to remove your sim and sticking it in another phone. even CDMA carriers had to start implementing GSM-like architecture just to keep up with the growing demand (e.g. Bells MAJOR consumer loss/Rogers MAJOR consumer gain)….if people didnt care about a “unified non-removable sim” they would ahve never chosen GSM over CDMA…..having that in the iphone will not change that…..furthermore, a large chunk of iPhone 4 sales were unlocked models….i wonder why people would want an unlocked model (sans the no contract)…its to be able to enjoy sticking in any sim from any carrier at any given time 🙂

  • Wuju

    I hate that cause that mean one can’t change to local pay-as-you go sim card while traveling aborad. This sucks.

  • Wuju

    Agree completely.

  • iParsa

    I love this idea… Why? here it is: Imagin you have an app that activates your phone!!!! in that case the jailbreak community would come up with apps to do this not once, but as many times as you want, therefore you don’t need to to buy/swap to the pay-as-you-go SIM, you just go to the jailbreak app, restore to factory setting (no-activation-yet status) and then you go to apple’s app and choose a pay-as-you-go provider and activate with them 😀

    That would be nice, wouldn’t it??? 😀

  • Anonymous

    Bang on.

  • Anonymous

    How will I avoid Rogers’ rapacious overseas rates if I can’t swap sims? Ack!

  • Any chance this magic app would allow us to activate on carriers that don’t actually sell the iPhone (SaskTel). I doubt it. Boo…two thumbs way down on this idea.

  • Don

    Keep dreaming I’m sure Apple will have something up their sleeve to combat that. Let alone the carriers will cry foul for Apple to implement a permanent security feature……….But you never know with the JB community though.

  • W3STC04ST

    Abso – effing – lutly – NOT a good idea!

    Do you think its a good idea? Do you think any soft or after market unlocks will work with if there were to be a unified sim integrated into the iPhone?

    All I can see apple doing is keeping it internally locked to a carrier, so there inst even the possibility to put in another country/provider’s SIM into the phone.

    This will allow apple to stop having to worry about unlocking software, as it wouldn’t be provisioned to take anything but your own carrier as a provider.

    If I you think I am out to lunch, or understand the “unified sim” idea wrong, Id love to have a couple responses to this post.

    Less jailbreaks and unlocks = more profit from hardware for apple and its stock-holders.

    Totally makes sense and is indefinitely worth it!….. For Apple.

    Remember, Apple as a company is a sneaky SOB.

  • this sounds like one step away from Branded phones. I wouldnt want to see a Rogers logo on the back or bottom of my future iPhones lol

  • Jd2157

    Supposedly a French carrier (Orange) is very upset with Apple’s plans to do this built-in SIM thing. With any luck that means it’ll make it harder (or impossible) for carrier’s to lock phones to their networks indefinitely.

    The big question is why exactly is the carrier upset /w Apple? It’s revenue loss of course, but is that revenue being lost to Apple (e.g. resulting from activation no longer happening at the carrier point-of-sale) or to their competitors (e.g. resulting from increased phone portability)?

  • This would be a disaster and a non-starter for me. I love mu unlocked iPhone 4 that gives me the freedom to use my iPhone even in countries that don’t have it. Let’s say, you are going to east european countries – let’s say Moldova, and you want to use your iPhone there… There would be NO way to use it there, although they do have a few 3G carriers there…

    We need to be able to put in OUR OWN SIM card — if this happens, I will not buy another iPhone — hello unlocked Android !!

  • Good idea for Apple to “rape” the carriers in a brand new way, BAD idea for consumer, being locked in to carriers that Apple favors.. I am really starting to dislike the apple lock-in more and more if this comes to pass..