SIM Cards: 10 Facts About This Nifty Tech That Might Be Part of History Soon

Image: Brian A Jackson / Shutterstock.com

SIM cards are one of the constant components in a phone. No matter how new or advanced a phone model may be, there’s no way of securing a line during the registration process without the chip.

There are a couple of facts that are relatively unknown about the SIM card, the little thing that would send us into a frenzy when it’s not working.

We’re here to cover just that – here’s 10 facts about SIM cards almost everyone doesn’t know!

What does SIM stand for, anyway?

No lah, it doesn’t stand for Singapore Institute of Management. That one is a school in Clementi.

SIM is the short term for subscriber identity module. Wah, sounds so technical suddenly! But what does it all embody, and what is its function about?

A SIM is in fact an ultra-small circuit board!

Now here’s the kicker. The reason why Singtel or StarHub or M1 (or any other communications company for that matter) have this chip installed onto your phone when you subscribe with them is so that they can identify you and also authenticate you as a user on their very vast network.

It’s also easy to use; if you switch to another phone, all you have to do is change your SIM from your old phone to your new one.

Also, when your subscriber needs to bill you by your number, it just makes everything much simpler la. This one for sure you know!

So the magic of the card isn’t in it bringing you data: it’s just to identify you.

The Evolution of SIM Card Sizes

Once upon a time, a SIM card used to have plates the size of your current credit card. No, I’m serious, you lucky young fellows. Here, take a look:

Image: diturner.co.uk

Thankfully it has evolved and become more compact AND powerful. There are a couple of manufacturers who still use the micro-SIM size, but in actuality it’s just a teensy bit bigger than a nano-SIM.

Of course, we now know that SIM cards are getting smaller, and smaller, and smaller.

(Article continues below) Xing Xing is a 34-year-old Singaporean lady who decides to meet up with an online friend she found in Facebook. But it turns out that he’s not what he seems to be: Prepare boxes of tissue and watch the saddest Singapore Facebook love story here:

(Since you’re here, subscribe to our YouTube Channel for more informative videos lah)

Can a SIM help you deter data roaming costs?

When you’re moving about from your country to another one, your SIM card is essentially the only thing that can negotiate and provide you a door to an overseas mobile service company. It in fact helps you to get a “new line” in the mere moments it takes you to deplane and grab your bags from the carousel belt.

Sure, some of the overseas data and line fees can be a nightmare. There are apps like Feel at Home to help you along the way, and get you a better deal too. You could alternatively call your local subscriber to find out what’s the best communications provider to use at the country you’re going to travel to.

Otherwise, just get a local SIM when you’re there if it doesn’t cost you too much la.

Who Created the first ever SIM Card?

Back in 1991, a company called Giesecke & Devrient in Munich developed the world’s very first SIM card. They then sold 300 SIM cards to Radiolinja, which was a wireless network operator from Finland.

Here’s the punch – the humble SIM now caters to billions of mobile devices and gadgets across the world!

The Next Gen of SIMs

The next installation of SIMs are called eUICCs, which will be embedded in the phone itself. Its plus points include lesser logistical challenges, as it is able to network globally.

There’s less distribution and installation costs and processes to deal with too. Its connectivity is expected to be kick-ass too, as it is enabled from the time it leaves the factory – you’ll just have to register your phone with a subscriber to get what you need!

Oh, yeah, basically, SIM cards are also going the cloud route.

The Average Memory of a SIM Card

Now, this might sound laughable, but compared to the huge amount of space you’ve got going on your phone, your SIM card can store just about 64Kb in subscriber info, texts and contact details. Yup, it sounds sad, but it’s actually just enough for it to function.

If you are an uncle or auntie today, you’ll remember how your SIM card could run out of memory for either your SMSes or your contacts. Ah, memories.

Nowadays, everything is stored in your phone, or in the cloud. So there’s really no need to complicate the SIM’s usage – let the small fella focus on his one true job, which is to identify you (so that telcos can bill you).

Can Your SIM be used to track you down?

You’ve seen it in films and honestly, it’s pretty scary if it were to happen to you in everyday life. Can people truly track you down just by knowing your number that’s attached to your SIM?

It all actually doesn’t really come down to your SIM, but in fact to the mobile phone tower that’s closest to you. If you’re in a place where the local mobile phone mast is too busy, you’d be pinged off the second nearest mast or the next in line.

The only thing that’s truly handy in tracking down is probably the app “Find my iPhone”, which is pretty useful for when you’ve lost your iPhone again for the almost 100th time. Google’s also got its own version called Find My Device, too!

But if you’ve watched Designated Survivor, you’ll know that tracking you down doesn’t even require you to hold on to a physical device; algorithms can predict where you are at any moment.

And let’s just say that algorithms are often more accurate than your phone #justsaying

The IMSI (wait, what?) on your SIM

The IMSI is the abbreviation for International Mobile Subscriber Identity, which is actually a one-of-a-kind ID that’s used to connect the person who’s dialling up your number to your phone, and not someone else’s.

Sounds pretty neat, right?

It’s very technical, but let’s just say that it’s a number that’s tagged to you. Sort of like an international NRIC number.

Heard of the Apple SIM yet?

This SIM helps iPad owners to use multiple networks. You can swap between one plan to another, and even save on roaming costs while you’re travelling. Sounds like a dream now, doesn’t it?

It’s basically a SIM card for tablets, which if you think about it, would make perfect sense: nowadays, people have a phone and a tablet. So each of us would have two SIM cards, and this helps to make sure you’re not wasting data on just one of them.

Bet you never knew that one tiny thing could have so many unknown factors tagged to it.

And SIM card, we’ve got a newfound respect for you sia!

That is, until cloud came and you, too, are disrupted by technology #seeyou