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Nokia shoots down Apple in nano-SIM dust-up

Nokia has laid out its opposition to Apple's plan for the next generation of SIM card, the nano-SIM.

Nokia has stuck a stick in Apple's spokes. The Finnish phone-fanciers have come out fighting as the mobile industry prepares to vote on the next generation of SIM card, the nano-SIM.

Apple has proposed a design for the fourth form factor (4FF) nano-SIM, which it wants the European Telecommunications Standards Institute to adopt as a standard for all phones. Nokia, Motorola and RIM are less keen, and Nokia today denounced Apple's plan in no uncertain terms.

Nokia told us it believes that Apple's proposal doesn't meet the requirements set by the ETSI, hinging on Apple's plan to make the nano-SIM the same length as the width of the current generation of micro-SIM, and place the nano-SIM in a drawer or tray like the one found in the iPhone and iPad. Nokia told us "our proposal has features which would make it easier for consumers to insert and remove the SIM without damage. Additionally, our proposed SIM has different dimensions from a micro SIM, one of ETSI's requirements, which would avoid it getting stuck if inserted by mistake into a phone with a micro SIM slot."

Nokia also complains that Apple's plan doesn't take into account lower cost devices: Nokia's bread and butter, but an area that smart phone maker Apple has no interest in. The Finnish company says if the SIM needs a tray, it'll limit the design options for new phones and tablets: "Requiring a tray or SIM carrier would reduce design options and increase manufacturing cost, perhaps not significant for high end smartphones but it would be for lower cost devices."

Nokia believes that although the nano-SIM itself is smaller than current versions, the tray and associated kit proposed by Apple mean that it doesn't actually make phones any smaller: "We believe that in practice it would mean it was just different from micro SIM, rather than smaller, which could be a barrier to broad adoption as an alternative to micro SIM, potentially leading to fragmentation."

A final concern is left unspoken: that adoption of Apple's proposal would leave Apple controlling a significant number of patents relating to the industry standard.

I don't think I'm alone in saying I hate the ruddy SIM tray, as it requires you to havea paperclip on your person whenever you need to swap SIMs.

Interestingly, Nokia has actually adopted the SIM tray in its latest flagship phone, copying the iPhone. The Nokia Lumia 800 hides its SIM beneath a hinged cover, but the new Nokia Lumia 900 has a tray that's ejected by poking it with a paperclip.

The nano-SIM proposal goes before the ETSI in the next week, where phone companies will vote on whether they think it's a good idea. As Nokia rallies supporters to its cause, reports suggest Apple is resorting to gerrymandering by registering subsidairy companies to bolster its turn-out in the vote.

Do you support Nokia's nano-SIM opposition? Are you sick of having to track down a paperclip whenever you need to swap a SIM? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on Facebook.