What is preventing manufacturers from removing the SIM card?

youdontsay

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 7, 2013
105
95
It's all in the title! I just wanted to have your thought on this. Obviously it would help simplify the design, the waterproofing, it would be more ecological, etc. But more than that, it would be considerably easier for users to switch between carriers.

I'm not in favor of removing things like the headphone jack, as it is still relevant nowadays (but in 2 to 3 years with USB C audio developing, it might not be the case). That being said, I can't find any advantages to keep this old tech that is the SIM card.
 

Audit13

macrumors 603
Apr 19, 2017
5,657
1,437
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Having an unlocked phone and changing to a different carrier by swapping SIM cards is what I prefer. I don't have to contact the carrier to register my phone on their network or when I change phones.

The only sim-free carriers at the moment use CDMA and it was a pain anytime I wanted to change phones or even carriers when I was with a Canadian CDMA carrier.
 

Vegastouch

macrumors 603
Jul 12, 2008
5,551
439
Las Vegas, NV
Nothing wrong with with SIM cards. I think they all should have them. Pretty easy to change carriers. Samsung found a way to water seal it even with micro SD card slot.
 
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JPack

macrumors 603
Mar 27, 2017
6,073
9,756
But more than that, it would be considerably easier for users to switch between carriers.
That's exactly the reason why telecom operators are dragging their feet.

Apple wants to use embedded SIM or soft SIM for wearables, but carriers don't want consumers to switch easily.

Any time you ask a question, consider all stakeholders, not just the view from consumers.
 
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GrumpyMom

macrumors G3
Sep 11, 2014
8,907
12,780
I think getting rid of the SIM card would give the carriers too easy of an opportunity to charge administrative fees for switch overs between phones. Even now we've had occasional run ins with AT&T pulling little stunts on us when we have switched sims among our many and varied phones. I can't recall offhand what happened but I remember my husband having to call and argue with them to get his phone back in working order after switching his main sim between his iPhone and his S8+, despite both being on AT&T. He said he got the impression from his chat with them that they'd like more control over what we do with our phones.

If Apple does away with SIM cards I would wait and see how people get along without a sim and would give up Apple before giving up freedom to use whichever one of my phones I want when I want to.
 

JPack

macrumors 603
Mar 27, 2017
6,073
9,756
I think getting rid of the SIM card would give the carriers too easy of an opportunity to charge administrative fees for switch overs between phones.
Actually, it would be the complete opposite. Carriers would be less likely to charge fees.

An embedded SIM allows remote provisioning. The barriers to stealing one customer from another carrier are lowered. The provisioning is done remotely without manufacturing and distributing SIM cards. It's like switching long distance carriers - you don't get charged fees.

There's a reason why telecos want to keep removable SIM cards.
 

rui no onna

macrumors G3
Oct 25, 2013
8,729
4,722
But more than that, it would be considerably easier for users to switch between carriers.
In a utopia, maybe.

Real world, you'd have carriers like Sprint and Verizon not wanting to unlock your phone for use with other carriers. I know Verizon phones are unlocked but they wouldn't be if not for the FCC mandate.

Also, access is an issue. For example, I can just pop in a H2O Wireless SIM on my iPhone on $10/3 month pay as you go service. If we go electronic activation, choices of plans and carriers may be limited.
 

JesperA

macrumors 6502a
Feb 10, 2012
680
1,037
Sweden
Don't know why so many choose SIM cards, if the exact same functionality can be done without it, why have it? Imagine just adding a carrier or several into the carrier settings on your phone and just have a list of your registered carriers, you can switch between them easily with just a tap on the screen, much easier than switching sim cards.

The argument about "carriers would never allow it" is irrelevant and is exactly the reason why we are stuck with SIM cards
 
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JPack

macrumors 603
Mar 27, 2017
6,073
9,756
Real world, you'd have carriers like Sprint and Verizon not wanting to unlock your phone for use with other carriers. I know Verizon phones are unlocked but they wouldn't be if not for the FCC mandate.
That's an issue with buying a subsidized phone or a consumer affairs issue.

For the rest of the world where consumers buy unlocked phones and carriers unlock in a timely manner for a reasonable fee, SIM cards are a hindrance.
 

Applejuiced

macrumors Westmere
Apr 16, 2008
40,672
6,532
At the iPhone hacks section.
Having an unlocked phone and changing to a different carrier by swapping SIM cards is what I prefer. I don't have to contact the carrier to register my phone on their network or when I change phones.

The only sim-free carriers at the moment use CDMA and it was a pain anytime I wanted to change phones or even carriers when I was with a Canadian CDMA carrier.
That's the beauty of GSM.
You just swap in and out any sim and you're good to go.
You dont have to call up any carriers tech support to setup a new device to your account with your phone number. You dont have to jump through hoops or verify your identity or passwords etc....
I wouldn't want to give that freedom away.
[doublepost=1501012896][/doublepost]
Actually, it would be the complete opposite. Carriers would be less likely to charge fees.

An embedded SIM allows remote provisioning. The barriers to stealing one customer from another carrier are lowered. The provisioning is done remotely without manufacturing and distributing SIM cards. It's like switching long distance carriers - you don't get charged fees.

There's a reason why telecos want to keep removable SIM cards.
Yeah right, they charge activation fees now even when you bring in your own phone.
They will make up new ways to nickel and dime us more.
Carrier charge less fees? Yeah right :D
 

JPack

macrumors 603
Mar 27, 2017
6,073
9,756
Yeah right, they charge activation fees now even when you bring in your own phone.
They will make up new ways to nickel and dime us more.
Carrier charge less fees? Yeah right :D
Manufacturing and distributing SIM cards is a big barrier to entry for many wireless carriers.

Lower the barriers to entry and you have more competition.

Activation fees are signs and symptoms of insufficient competition in your marketplace.
 

GrumpyMom

macrumors G3
Sep 11, 2014
8,907
12,780
Actually, it would be the complete opposite. Carriers would be less likely to charge fees.

An embedded SIM allows remote provisioning. The barriers to stealing one customer from another carrier are lowered. The provisioning is done remotely without manufacturing and distributing SIM cards. It's like switching long distance carriers - you don't get charged fees.

There's a reason why telecos want to keep removable SIM cards.
Well the thing is, now when I want to switch between phones using one phone number, I pop the SIM card out of one phone and pop it in the other. Even if the provisioning was originally done on an IPhone, when I change the sim into my Samsung normally all my features are ready to go. Once in a great while they aren't all working as they should for whatever reason, and my husband has to call AT&T and they almost always want to charge him for something and always give in when he says "No".

Now if going simless means all I have to do is type in some setting changes on one phone and then type in some more changes on the other phone to switch between two phones using one number, hey, sure I can get on board with that. That sounds more convenient than finding my sim tool and squinting at my bitty little SIM card with my 50 year old eyes.

But if by remote provisioning you mean I have to involve AT&T every time I want to switch between my Android and my iPhone on my main number, I must politely decline the idea. They are a nice carrier but the less I have to talk to, text to or even think about them, the better.
 
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576316

macrumors 601
May 19, 2011
4,056
2,556
I understand the logic and ease of a SIM card...but don't you think they feel ancient? I seldom have to see one, or change one, but when I do I can't help thinking, 'There must be a better way of doing this. This feels terribly old fashioned.'
 

JPack

macrumors 603
Mar 27, 2017
6,073
9,756
SIM cards are cheap. The biggest barrier to entry is licensing wireless spectrum and infrastructure.
Not since the introduction of Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO) like Google Project Fi.

The distribution of SIMs is costly and time consuming. There are very few reasons to keep them around.
 

eyoungren

macrumors Core
Aug 31, 2011
22,468
15,318
ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two
All I can say to this idea is, it's been done. And it didn't work out well.

See the Sprint iPhone 4. Only iPhone 4 without a SIM slot. Locked to Sprint forever with no way to ever unlock it.

That is the form this kind of thing will take.

And if you want it so it's SIMless and all you have to do is use software to switch carriers better be ready to lobby Congress for new laws.
 

Applejuiced

macrumors Westmere
Apr 16, 2008
40,672
6,532
At the iPhone hacks section.
How exactly is that more convenient than if you could just do the switch in software, it could just be 1 tap in the carrier settings
It's never just 1 tap in settings.
It's about carrier control.
[doublepost=1501018534][/doublepost]
Manufacturing and distributing SIM cards is a big barrier to entry for many wireless carriers.

Lower the barriers to entry and you have more competition.

Activation fees are signs and symptoms of insufficient competition in your marketplace.
Yes we have many insufficient symptoms here and putting more power and control on the carriers hands will only make it worse.
 
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