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Apple and Samsung are in talks with mobile standards organization GSMA to introduce electronic SIM cards, according to Financial Times. The talks are happening around the GSMA's impending announcement of the creation of a standardized embedded SIM card for consumer devices, which would involve both Apple and Samsung if the talks go through.

Rumors of Apple creating its own SIM card line began in late 2010, when a report from Gigaom claimed the company was working with digital security firm Gemalto to create the custom built-in SIM. The iPhone 4s was even rumored to be "SIM-less," pointing once again to an electronic SIM card pre-built into the device to save space, and inaccessible to the user.

The e-SIM would essentially allow customers to avoid being locked in to a dedicated mobile carrier, letting them sign up to their network of choice and even switch instantly if they changed their minds.

With today's news, the networks expected to be on board with the new e-SIM standard include: AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Hutchison Whampoa, Orange, Telefónica, and Vodafone. GSMA's chief executive, Anne Bouverot, claims all parties are "heading towards an agreement" regarding the standardized e-SIM card. But, as the Financial Times points out, thanks to the technical specifications of the e-SIM, it will be "at least a year" before any devices supporting the new card reach the market.
The GSMA said: "With the majority of operators on board, the plan is to finalise 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."

"We have got everyone back on one point, with Apple and Samsung agreeing to be part of that specification," said Ms Bouverot. "We have been working with them and others to create an industry solution for machines and will agree a solution for consumer electronics."
The deal with Apple is yet to be finalized, however, with the GSMA noting it is "continuing to work with Apple to secure their support for the initiative" and an actual agreement with Apple "is still in progress."

Last year, Apple took its first steps toward opening up carrier access on some of its devices, introducing an Apple SIM card for cellular versions of both the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3, allowing users -- particularly in the United States -- to switch easily between AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, taking advantage of each carrier's short-term data plans as they saw fit. EE in the UK was also included in the Apple SIM program, and just weeks ago a partnership with GigSky expanded Apple SIM service to over 90 countries.

The e-SIM standard has been under consideration for several years, but many carriers have resisted the concept over concerns it will be too easy for customers to switch. Even with Apple's physical Apple SIM card, AT&T moved to locking cards to the carrier's service. The company gave no reason why it decided to prevent the Apple SIM from functioning properly beyond "it's just simply the way we've chosen to do it." With only a handful of carriers currently on board and a 2016 launch date for the new e-SIM cards, it remains to be seen how quickly they will be able to gain momentum in the industry.

Article Link: Apple in 'Advanced Talks' With Mobile Telecom Groups for Standardized 'e-SIM' Cards
 
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gpat

macrumors 65816
Mar 1, 2011
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People defending this have no idea what they're getting into. There is no beating the convenience of a physical SIM card in free markets like the European one. Don't hate the SIM cards only because US carriers are *******s. Electronic SIM cards are going to make switching carrier or device harder and less user-friendly, not easier.
 
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kcamfork

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Oct 7, 2011
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People defending this have no idea what they're getting into. There is no beating the convenience of a physical SIM card in free markets like the European one. Don't hate the SIM cards only because US carriers are *******s. Electronic SIM cards are going to make switching carrier or device harder and less user-friendly, not easier.
If it were as easy as entering the SIM card e-number into your new phone, that would be pretty easy, in my opinion.
 
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nepalisherpa

macrumors 68020
Aug 15, 2011
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As long as all networks (world-wide) are on-board with this, it would be ok. I would hate to be traveling and not being able to use a local network. The only other bad thing I see about this is not being able to switch phones on the fly.
 
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MiniEggs

macrumors newbie
Oct 22, 2013
13
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What I would really like to see is Apple support rSAP (Bluetooth remote sim access protocol) so that you don't need a separate SIM in a 3G/4G enabled car etc you can just share you phone one to it and not need another under utilised phone contract

Android has had it for ages
 
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NMBob

macrumors 65816
Sep 18, 2007
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People defending this have no idea what they're getting into. There is no beating the convenience of a physical SIM card in free markets like the European one. Don't hate the SIM cards only because US carriers are *******s. Electronic SIM cards are going to make switching carrier or device harder and less user-friendly, not easier.

Jony just wants to make the phones thinner.
 
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konqerror

macrumors 68020
Dec 31, 2013
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What if you own more than one device and like to use them intermittently?
People on pure CDMA carriers have had this convenience for ages. Forget your phone at home? Lost it? Take out your backup phone, log into the carrier webpage, enter the ESN, on the phone dial *228, done!
 
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Thunderhawks

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Feb 17, 2009
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People defending this have no idea what they're getting into. There is no beating the convenience of a physical SIM card in free markets like the European one. Don't hate the SIM cards only because US carriers are *******s. Electronic SIM cards are going to make switching carrier or device harder and less user-friendly, not easier.
If this get implemented it will be done in a way that even the dumbest consumer can do it. It will bring about more competition internationally, where you have better and more options than in t heUS.
A pay as you go plan company should do very well with this.
But, let's not kid ourselves this will all go through the same towers owned by ATT/Verizon etc.
Just bulk buy agreements and passing on some of the rebates.
 
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manu chao

macrumors 604
Jul 30, 2003
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My question is, how would you switch your SIM "card" to a different phone when you get a new device or just need to switch phones?
If that new device also uses eSIMs than you'd just need to select the carrier on that device. If not, then you need get a good old SIM from your carrier.
 
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jayducharme

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Jun 22, 2006
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The thick of it
My question is, how would you switch your SIM "card" to a different phone when you get a new device or just need to switch phones?
From the article, I was under the impression that it would be done through software. The eSIM would basically be like an EPROM and could be reprogrammed.
 
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kemal

macrumors 68000
Dec 21, 2001
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Nebraska
I can take my USA Verizon (CDMA) Android phone to Europe and purchase a GSM sim. It works because the GSM function is unlocked in the Verizon phone.

How would I do something like this when there is no sim slot?

The real consumer solution is to have no such thing as a carrier locked phone.
 
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PJWilkin

macrumors regular
Jun 24, 2010
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If they can let the user programme an e-sim with any sim-number, then potentially you could scan an existing sim number into the phone and use that.

It could be even more useful if you could have a 'sim wallet' so that when roaming you can choose which sim to use (e.g. if you go abroad)

I won't miss having to physically install a SIM, and certainly I never load it with phone numbers. I would however prefer
 
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Daveoc64

macrumors 601
Jan 16, 2008
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I'd only support this if neither carrier involved in a switch has a say in when you can switch devices, how often you can switch devices, which carriers you can switch between and which devices you can switch to.

Apple has demonstrated complicity in allowing US carriers to restrict the type of plan that can be used with an iPhone. That doesn't happen in other countries because there's more regulation and competition. Anything to weaken that would be a massive step backwards.
 
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John.B

macrumors 601
Jan 15, 2008
4,158
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Holocene Epoch
Wasn't AT&T able to hack the Apple SIM for iPads to lock it to their network? How would that work with an eSIM? At least a bogus physical SIM card can be removed/replaced...
 
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logas69

macrumors newbie
Jul 5, 2010
16
8
If you have seen the logic board of the iPhone 6 / 6s, you know how much space gets wasted on the SIM tray compartment. It's about the one fifth of the whole board. So I can totally relate with Apple wanting to get rid of a physical SIM card.
 
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