ETSI standardizes new SIM card format, measures 40 percent smaller than current smallest card

Alex Wagner
Editorial Director of News and Content from  Omaha, NE
| June 1, 2012

ETSI logo

Big news this morning related to SIM cards, which are about to get even smaller. The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) has officially introduced a new SIM card form factor known as the fourth form factor (4FF) card. The 4FF card, which is 40 percent smaller than the micro-SIM, measures in at 12.3mm wide by 8.8mm high and is 0.67mm thick. The new design is backwards compatible with older SIM card designs. 

Micro-SIM cards have been slowly appearing in more and more devices as of late, including the iPhone 4/4S and HTC One X, but as devices continue to shrink (when it comes to thickness, anyway) manufacturers will want a SIM card that takes up even less space inside the device than the micro-SIM. That's where this new 4FF card comes in, allowing companies to free up a little extra space inside their products for other components. The ETSI says that the the new 4FF format design will be published on its website "in due course," and when it does we'll get a better idea of what this new SIM card is all about. Stay tuned.

New SIM card format for slimmer, smaller phones

ETSI Headquarters, Sophia Antipolis, France – 1 June 2012                

ETSI has standardized a new form factor (4FF) for the SIM card, 40% smaller than the current smallest design.

At its 55th meeting held on 31 May and 1 June 2012 in Osaka, Japan, ETSI's Smart Card Platform Technical Committee agreed a new form factor for the UICC, popularly known as the SIM card. 

Today's SIM card designs take up a significant amount of space inside a mobile device. This space is more and more valuable in today's handsets which deliver an ever increasing number of features.

The fourth form factor (4FF) card will be 40% 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.

The SIM is the most successful smart card application ever. A SIM card is used to securely associate a mobile device with a customer account, preventing fraud and ensuring that calls are correctly routed to customers. It is an essential security feature of mobile networks, and is integrated into every GSM, UMTS and LTE device. Over 25 billion SIM card and derivatives have been produced so far, and the industry continues to issue over 4.5 billion SIM cards each year. 

The new form factor was adopted by industry with the involvement of major mobile network operators, smart card suppliers and mobile device manufacturers. The new design will be published in due course in ETSI's TS 102 221 specification, freely available like all ETSI standards from the ETSI website.

Via The Verge