iPhone 5 release date looms, networks stock up on nano-SIMs

The new iPhone 5 is so close now that phone networks are stocking up on a new type of SIM card unique to the new phone.

The iPhone 5 is so close now that phone networks are stocking up on a new type of SIM card unique to the hotly-anticipated next Apple phone.

The iPhone 5 -- or new iPhone, or whatever it's called -- is set to be the first to use nano-SIM cards. Nano-SIMs are a new format of SIM card, even smaller than the micro-SIM cards employed in the current iPhone 4S .

The Financial Times reports that networks in Europe are stockpiling the new SIM cards, which are 40 per cent smaller than the micro-SIM cards first appearing in the iPad in 2010.

The nano-SIM measures 12.3 by 8.8mm and trims off most of the plastic surrounding the chip, which holds your phone number and associates the phone with your personage.

In that two years, the micro-SIM has been relatively slow to show up in other phones. It's in the Samsung Galaxy S3, HTC One X and the Nokia Lumia 800 and 900 phones, among others.

Interestingly, Nokia, Motorola and BlackBerry-builder RIM had their own competing design for the nano-SIM, leading to a SIM card scrap at the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, the industry body that approves such standard technology. Apple won that round, and it seems we'll see the spoils of that victory debut in the new iPhone.

The micro-SIM was greeted with some consternation and confusion, especially as networks attempted to sell it as some kind of clever new kit that required a different contract -- but it's actually just a normal SIM with the edges cut off. With a sharp pair of scissors and a steady hand any cheap SIM becomes a micro-SIM. We're hoping the same will be true of the nano-SIM -- here's how to cut your SIM down to micro-SIM size .

Although the exact release date is shrouded in mystery, we're expecting to see the iPhone 5 in October. It'll be the first to show off new iOS 6 software, and will have a new look too: leaked photos suggest the phone will be taller to make the screen 16:9 when turned sideways -- perfect for high definition movies and TV.

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About the author

Rich Trenholm is a senior editor at CNET where he covers everything from phones to bionic implants. Based in London since 2007, he has travelled the world seeking out the latest and best consumer technology for your enjoyment.

 

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