Apple (s aapl) has submitted a proposal to make SIM cards even smaller than the micro-SIM it currently uses in the iPhone 4 and iPad, according to Reuters. The new smaller SIM standard is also backed by French carrier Orange, and was submitted to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) last week. The proposal isn’t in the ETSI database yet, but it might take some time for it to appear.
If the standard gains additional sponsorship through other carriers and hardware manufacturers, and if the ETSI proves amenable to the idea, devices using the tiny new SIM (nano-SIM?) could be in consumer hands as early as next year.
Smaller SIM cards will allow for smaller SIM card enclosures, which should make it possible for Apple to save space within its iOS devices. That could allow for even thinner cases, or leave more room for larger batteries or other new components such as additional antennas and sensors.
Another possibility is that Apple wants to make it easier for SIM cards to become unobtrusive embeddable parts of a mobile device’s internal structure. Apple is thought to be working on embeddable SIM cards, though it’s a controversial subject among carriers, some of which appear to support the idea, while others reportedly threatened to take punitive action if Apple went ahead with the plan.
Even if it doesn’t pursue the embedded SIM route, nano-SIM cards will at least allow Apple to pack more into ever-smaller packages in future mobile device designs. But who else besides me thinks they’re inevitably going to lose a bunch of these things during the install process? As if micro-SIMs weren’t small enough already.