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The SIM card as you know it could soon be a thing of the past

The mobile industry is close to agreeing a standard for a new embeddable electronic SIM.

Future devices may include an embedded SIM card instead of a removable one.
Future devices may include an embedded SIM card instead of a removable one.
Image: Simon Yeo/Flickr

A NEW TYPE of SIM for devices could soon be a reality as the mobile industry comes close to agreeing a standard for an electronic SIM (e-SIM).

The GSMA, which represents mobile operators worldwide, is in advanced talks with Apple and Samsung to join the rest of the industry in launching e-SIMs, according to the Financial Times.

Unlike traditional SIM cards, e-SIMs would be embedded into smartphones, tablets or any device that requires a cellular connection and would allow users to switch between networks whenever they want.

Traditional SIM cards are designed to work with a specific telecom operator and don’t allow you to switch out without getting a different SIM card.

The deal is still dependent upon all parties agreeing on a “common architecture” and it will likely be a year before any devices supporting e-SIMs will be available to buy.

Apple already has a similar service called the Apple SIM, a card that’s available for the iPad Air 2, although it’s only available in the US and the UK.

The e-SIM is not expected to replace this since Apple’s version is a physical SIM, but it follows the same principle where users can switch between rival mobile operators on short-term prepaid plans, based on cost and reception.

The GSMA told the Financial Times it would expect the first devices supporting it to arrive in 2016.

Read: This classic computer is making a return as a smartphone >

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Quinton O'Reilly

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