The European Telecommunications Standards Institute approved Apple’s nano-SIM design for the new 4FF SIM Card standard on Friday. The approval follows delays and fighting between smartphone makers over whether or not the design could give Apple more control over the smartphone market.
The fourth form factor (4FF) card will be 40 percent smaller than the current smallest SIM card design, at 12.3mm wide by 8.8mm high, and 0.67mm thick. It can be packaged and distributed in a way that is backwards compatible with existing SIM card designs. The new design will offer the same functionality as all current SIM cards.
While the standards body didn’t specifically state the winning design was Apple’s it’s easy to read between the lines thanks to ETSI’s claim that the new SIM is backwards compatible. Apple’s design can be mounted in a tray that supports current SIM and micro-SIM compatible phones, where Nokia’s competing proposal is designed to fit in a phone much like an SD card, and doesn’t include a contact layout that matches current SIM patterns.
Even though Apple’s nano-SIM won approval, the controversy over the design isn’t finished yet. While Apple said it will offer royalty-free licensing for its related patents, Nokia threatened to refuse licensing for its related patents if Apple’s design won. Nokia hasn’t commented yet on the ETSI vote, so there isn’t any word on whether or not the company plans to follow through on its threat.
The nano-SIM standard will be published in ETSI’s TS 102 221 specification.