The idea that SIM cards could disappear is looking less likely, as smartphone manufacturers RIM, Nokia and Apple have submitted competing proposals for a next-generation subscriber identity module. The European Telecommunications Standards Institutes (ETSI) has scheduled a vote to decide between the competing designs.
Apple's proposed nano-SIM card is pictured above from The Verge, inside the outline of a standard SIM card. When it comes down to it, the Apple design is much like current micro-SIM cards, except with less plastic around the edges. In contrast, both competing designs from Nokia and RIM are redesigned more like an SD card.
Apple contends its design is more backward compatible, and has offered to license their patent for the nano-SIM card for free to facilitate widespread adoption. The design would require a SIM card tray, just like current SIM cards, which would also make it possible to fit an adapter and use the nano-SIM in an existing phone. It's possible Apple is planning to incorporate the nano-SIM design into the next generation iPhone to save space inside the device.
Nokia and RIM have submitted competing designs that click into a smartphone without the use of a tray, however the designs are a bigger departure from the current SIM card architecture. Nokia contends that Apple's design could damage devices, as it could accidentally be inserted sideways and become stuck inside a device. Apple claims it has the backing of several European wireless carriers for its design.The possible inclusion of a nano-SIM in the iPhone 5 is not the only rumored change that would give Apple more space for other components. Reports have indicated for some time that Apple is considering a new dock connector that would shrink the size of the 30-pin connector currently used on all iOS devices.