Nokia: Apple’s nano-SIM design is flawed

Mar 22, 2012
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Nokia: Apple’s nano-SIM design is flawed

Nokia has fired back at Apple over nano-SIM suggests, issuing a heated statement about the next-gen cards that accuses the Cupertino-backed standard of being more prone to damage, user confusion and - most damning - not especially elegant a design. Apple supposedly threw the cat among the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) pigeons with its proposal for a tray-borne nano-SIM format, according to reports earlier this week, with concerns that the company was trying to force through its scheme by some less-than-gentlemanly vote juggling.

At the time, Nokia reportedly said that its design had "significant technical advantages" to that of Apples, though the leaks failed to detail what, exactly, they were. In a statement given to The Verge, however, Nokia argues that its new SIM design follows ETSI 4FF nano-SIM standard requirements including being different in dimensions from the existing micro-SIM, which would mean it would not jam in existing micro-SIM ports.

Moreover, as Apple's SIM design would require a tray but Nokia's would not, the argument is that the end result would not be particularly smaller. "We believe that in practice it would mean it was just different from micro SIM, rather than smaller," Nokia says, "which could be a barrier to broad adoption as an alternative to micro SIM, potentially leading to fragmentation." Less expensive cellphones could also have their costs increased, goes the argument, by having to manufacture and accommodate the tray.

Nokia's statement doesn't make any further reference to Apple's strategy of individually registering six European subsidiaries as individual voting bodies, in an apparent attempt to boost its overall sway among ETSI members. The Finnish company previously questioned "whether it is right that one group of companies can obtain a high amount of votes by filing multiple membership applications."

Nokia statement:

"Apple's proposal does not meet all of the pre-agreed requirements for ETSI's planned 4FF standard (the so-called nano SIM). The proposal from Nokia, RIM and Motorola does.

Nokia believes that our proposal has features which would make it easier for consumers to insert and remove the SIM without damage. Additionally, our proposed SIM has different dimensions from a micro SIM, one of ETSI's requirements, which would avoid it getting stuck if inserted by mistake into a phone with a micro SIM slot. Apple's proposed card is the same length as the width of current micro SIMs and so would risk jamming, leading to card and product damage.

We also feel that our proposal allows for more design options for the type of card reader, i.e. how the SIM is inserted into the device, to allow for a wider range of device form factors. Requiring a tray or SIM carrier would reduce design options and increase manufacturing cost, perhaps not significant for high end smartphones but it would be for lower cost devices.

The combination of our proposed card and the associated mechanics are smaller than those for a current micro SIM, allowing further miniaturization in devices. Though Apple's proposed card is smaller than current micro SIMs, when combined with the associated mechanics needed in the phone, we don't believe it represents a significant reduction in size. We believe that in practice it would mean it was just different from micro SIM, rather than smaller, which could be a barrier to broad adoption as an alternative to micro SIM, potentially leading to fragmentation.

In summary, Nokia believes that our proposed nano SIM would be easier for consumers to handle, enable a wider range of device designs and offer a true difference from the existing options with micro SIM. We look forward to continuing the discussions in more detail with our counterparts in ETSI."


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