The SIM card, which comes in various sizes, is a tool that has grown to become a part of everyday life. Not only is the SIM card used for the mobile phone such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, but also in smartwatches, tablets, and more.
However, as I've already mentioned, the SIM card comes in one of three sizes, which can be confusing. After all, what SIM card fits your phone? How large is your SIM card slot?
In this guide to SIM card sizes, you'll find not only a brief definition of the SIM card but also the details on the available SIM card sizes, a chart on handset SIM card slot sizes, and more information on the growth of SIM cards.
Table of Contents
What is a SIM Card?
What is a SIM card, you might first ask? Well, a SIM, or subscriber identification module, card - embedded within the SIM card tray typically located near to the phone battery in a GSM phone - contains your unique profile and other additional information, such as your phone contacts.
With the SIM card, you'll be able to use your phone with the necessary tower. To put it simply, the SIM card tells the tower and your carrier network that you are authorized to use the cell phone tower.
SIM Card Size by Phone
The above table is just a smattering of some of the more popular devices across carriers and what SIM card they need. For more devices, check out our SIM card guides for iPhones, Samsung Galaxy, and Android phones.
SIM Card Sizes
Alright, now for the meat of the guide. What are the various SIM card sizes? What are the differences between the sizes?
Some phones are compatible with one size, while others only take a different size. As you'll find below and as our example, the Apple iPhone 6S and Samsung Galaxy Note 5 take a nano SIM card, whereas the Android phone, the HTC Desire, accepts a Standard SIM card.
Fortunately for many, quite a few carriers will distribute universal SIM card kits, meaning that you can pop out a SIM card of any size from the kit that will fit your phone.
Some carriers may offer what is known as a dual cut SIM, or dual SIM. A dual SIM is when two SIM cards - like the Micro SIM card and the standard SIM - are sold together in one card. So if your mobile device needs a Micro SIM card, then you'll be able to pop the smaller Micro SIM card out of the larger Standard SIM card and insert the card into the SIM card tray.
However, you may want to keep your SIM card for future phone models. If that is the case, then you can always purchase a SIM card cutter if you want to convert your SIM card in order to fit with a different model.
A SIM card cutter will downsize the SIM card so that it will fit into your new phone's SIM card slot. Unfortunately, the SIM card cutter only works if you're changing from a Standard to a Micro SIM card, not from a Standard or Micro SIM card to a Nano SIM card, due to the difference in thickness between the Nano SIM card and the other two SIM cards.
Of course, you could always purchase a SIM card adapter, but if you do choose to buy a SIM card adapter, you need to be careful. While they are cheap, they can absolutely destroy your phone. And - to put it bluntly - phones are expensive. If anything, see if you can back-up your contacts, messages, etc. using a third party app or an official app from your carrier. More than likely, the carrier will also feature a step-by-step guide to backing up your data.
Standard SIM Card
The Standard phone SIM card, otherwise known as the Mini SIM card, belongs to the "second generation" of SIM cards - this is why it is also referred to as 2FF, or second form factor. The reason why it is referred to as the standard size is due to the fact that the full-sized first-generation SIM card, which was introduced in 1996, has died out.
The measurements of the Standard phone SIM card are 25mm x 15mm x 0.76mm.
Most new smartphones today do not require the standard SIM card.
Micro SIM Card
The Micro SIM card is known as 3FF or third form factor. It is the "third-generation" of SIM card types, measuring at 15mm x 12mm x 0.76mm. Micro SIM cards were introduced with the following purpose: fitting into devices that are too small for the previous generation of SIM cards.
Better yet, the Micro SIM is backward-compatible, featuring the same assets and design as the Standard SIM. Again, the only difference is the amount of plastic surrounding the chip.
Nano SIM Card
Finally, we have the most current and smallest SIM card type available on the market: the Nano SIM card. The Nano SIM card is today's standard, acting as the SIM card for many flagship models.
The Nano SIM acts as the "fourth generation" (4FF) of SIM cards, measuring at 12.3mm x 8.8mm x 0.67mm. Furthermore, this smart card was released during early 2012.
Reading Your Profile
It should be noted that with a SIM card reader, you'll be able to access the information on the SIM card from a PC, allowing you to copy information like contacts, text messages and more from the mobile phone to your computer.
So why would you want a SIM card reader? For one, it's just another way to back up your data - and it's always a good idea to keep as many backups as possible. Two, for travelers who find themselves in other countries quite often, the SIM card reader is a fantastic tool to help them migrate messages and contacts to a SIM card that works in the area.
If you want to learn more about SIM card readers, then you should refer to this step-by-step guide from eBay on "How to Use a SIM Card Reader."
The Growth of SIM Cards
Nowadays, SIM cards are being used in a variety of devices, bringing data plans straight to them. GPS trackers, tablets like the iPad Air, mobile phones, and more all may require a SIM card nowadays. Thanks to the SIM card, your devices - and your life - is now that much more connected.
Overall, SIM cards come in three different sizes though they aren't all that different from each other. The only differences lie in the amount of plastic surrounding the chip. However, be sure to refer to our table above to find what SIM card you'll need for your phone. Of course, if you desire to keep your SIM card for the long haul, you'll probably want to look into a SIM card adapter or a cutter.
Need a helping hand to find a SIM card plan perfect for you? Use our prepaid SIM comparison guide!