New Apple Patent Details Virtual SIM Card


A new patent application from Apple details how a future iPhone could utilize a virtual SIM card that also integrates Near Field Communication (NFC).

There are a few advantages of utilizing near field technology. For one, it would allow consumers to bypass carriers when purchasing an iPhone, According to 9to5Mac, a costumer could instead utilize a carrier-chooser app, for instance, to select the network of their choosing. This would allow Apple to sell the iPhone through their retail stores, cutting carriers out of the sales.

Another benefit that Apple highlights in their application is the ability to produce an even “thinner, astoundingly beautiful, next generation iPhone”, thanks to the lack of a SIM card slot.

PatentlyApple explains:

Apple’s solution is very complex and unless you’re grounded in this particular field you’re going to get lost. However, while the patent discusses the use of Universal Subscriber Identity Module (USIM)) cards, the real discovery here is that Apple is considering a model of iPhone that may use a next generation Virtual SIM card that includes a NFC Router and tamper-proof security. It’s only in this mode that Apple’s background description of creating a thinner device makes any sense.

In Apple’s patent FIGS. 5a and 5b shown below we see two exemplary embodiments of a hardware architecture (502, 504) for a “virtual” Subscriber Identity Modules (SIMs) according to the invention. Unlike prior art solutions, the exemplary embodiments of FIGS. 5a and 5bstore a USIM 506 within an embedded Secure Element (SE) 508, which isn’t a removable card. The first illustrated embodiment 502 of the present invention (FIG. 5a) additionally includes a Near Field Communication (NFC) router 510.

[9to5Mac via PatentlyApple]


  • Frazer

    I’m for it. A virtual SIM could allow carriers to disable lost/stolen phones like the old CDMA days. In some cases, if you loose your iPhone… you’re screwed! 

  • Anonymous

    But of course you can use find my iPhone to do the same thing

  • Fraser

    Still ways of getting around it to wipe it and use it yourself. This could actually disable it from carrier

  • Anonymous

    This isn’t new is it?  I’m sure I remember reading about this months ago.

  • Ari

    I am completely against this. If I wanted crap like that, I’d get a CDMA phone. Removable SIM cards give end users freedom to do the following:
    – purchase an unlocked phone and choose your carrier
    – swap out your sim on an unlocked phone for a local SIM while travelling.
    – keep your phone number easily when upgrading phones. 

  • Anonymous

    I’ve heard rumblings of this since the 3GS.

  • Anonymous

    CDMA Is already integrated. Virtual SIM is blank and can be programmed at user level. yes, there is an app for that 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Seriously! The sim card is too thick! Lol!