Apple’s next iPhone announcement is just a month away and like every year many will be scrambling to their friends in the US to get one before it hits their country. But we suggest they hold on till Apple officially launches the iPhone 5 in their country (and on your carrier) before you get one. For all we know, the iPhone 5 (or whatever Apple might eventually call it) might not work even if it is factory unlocked. Read on to find out why…
The iPhone 5 will use a nano-SIM, which was approved by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) earlier this year. Like the micro-SIM, which was first introduced with Apple’s iPad in 2010, the nano-SIM is smaller than its predecessor and enables device manufacturers to save space in order to make thinner phones or use the reclaimed space for bigger batteries or extra components.
However, unlike the micro-SIM, which could be converted from a regular SIM card by using a SIM cutter, the same might not be possible with a nano-SIM. The nano-SIM is backwards compatible and carriers are likely to provide adapters with their nano-SIM to convert it to bigger SIM cards, Unfortunately, the reverse does not seem possible as the nano-SIM is 15 percent thinner than the older ones (0.67mm Vs 0.76mm). Unless someone comes with an innovative nano-SIM cutter-cum-shaver that does not harm the connectors, users will have to rely on their carriers to provide nano-SIM cards.
With the iPhone 5 being the only smartphone using the miniature SIM, it’s unlikely that nano-SIM cards from carriers that don’t offer the iPhone would be widely available. Considering how difficult it is to get hold of a micro-SIM from Indian carriers even after two years of its existence, we are not sure how many of them would offer a nano-SIM.
At the moment Apple has Aircel and Airtel as its carrier partners in India but that did not matter as all iPhones sold in India since the iPhone 4 were factory unlocked and SIM cutters were good enough to convert a SIM card into a micro-SIM card. With the nano-SIM the carrier becomes a critical participant on whether one would be able to use even a factory unlocked iPhone 5 or not. That is unless Apple ties up with every compatible carrier in the world or carriers that do not sell the iPhone start stocking up on nano-SIM cards. Both situations look unlikely at the moment. Another possible way would be that Apple gives a non-carrier branded nano-SIM inside every factory unlocked iPhone 5. Users then reach out to their carrier to provision their existing number on the new SIM card or get a new number mapped.
However, any of these methods are likely to be cumbersome for users. We just hope that either Apple comes up with an innovative solution or someone in a nondescript sweatshop in China is manufacturing nano-SIM cutter-cum-shaver by the millions.