Apple and Samsung are reportedly preparing a new SIM standard that would make it easier for consumers to switch between mobile carriers, according to The Financial Times. The Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA) is close to announcing an agreement for implementing the new SIM standard, known as the embedded SIM (e-SIM).
Essentially, the e-SIM would ship inside of Apple and Samsung smartphones and allow consumers to switch mobile carriers without having to activate a new SIM card. Switching carriers could be as easy as making a few adjustments within the settings of the smartphone. However, it will take at least a year before Apple or Samsung adopts the new e-SIM standard because a formal agreement has not been made yet.
“With the majority of operators on board, the plan is to finalize the technical architecture that will be used in the development of an end-to-end remote SIM solution for consumer devices, with delivery anticipated by 2016,” said the GSMA via The Financial Times. The GSMA pointed out that talks with Apple are still taking place and a formal agreement is still “in progress.” What makes the e-SIM standard even more compelling is that Apple and Samsung would be able to make its devices thinner and lighter because SIM card tray components would no longer be required.
In October, Apple launched a new SIM card within the cellular versions of the Apple iPad Air 2 and Apple iPad mini 3 — which is called the Apple SIM. The Apple SIM lets customers switch their short term carrier plans between AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, GigSky and EE.
The idea behind the e-SIM existed for several years, but several mobile carriers have been resistant to the idea of an embedded SIM card. For example, MacRumors reported that AT&T locked the Apple SIM to its own data plans and required users to get a new Apple SIM if they wanted to change carriers in the future. Why does AT&T lock the Apple SIM? At the time, an AT&T spokesperson told Re/code: “It’s just simply the way we’ve chosen to do it.”
Most likely, the Apple SIM will make several more appearances before the e-SIM arrives. The Financial Times pointed out that the Apple SIM could even be ”included in the next generation of iPhones.” Mobile carriers that are currently supporting the GSMA’s e-SIM card initiative includes AT&T, Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Etisalat, Hutchison Whampoa and Telefónica.