If you’ve owned an Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, or any other phone manufactured in the last ten years or so, you’re probably familiar with the SIM card: a small chip that essentially dictates, well, everything about your cellular connection — including your carrier.
Those who have switched providers are likely also aware of how difficult this process can be — many smartphones these days are “locked” to their carrier and won’t accept a SIM from another provider. Even if they will, you still have to pay an often substantial fee out of pocket for a new SIM card, as that information can’t simply be changed.
Apple and Samsung are looking to change that. According to a report from Forbes, Apple and Samsung are currently in talks with the GSMA — a trade organization representing global telecom companies — to introduce rewritable SIM cards to all of their devices, starting with the Apple iPhone 7 and Samsung Galaxy S7.
The good news is that, if the talks are successful (and you can bet that major telecom lobbies are going to be opposing the change — they like the carrier locks on devices they sell,) switching providers is going to be a lot easier in the future. The GSMA is looking to put the e-SIM policy in place by 2016.
The bad news: for those who travel a lot, swapping SIM cards is no longer going to be an option. Many frequent travelers favor unlocked phones that can swap in a local SIM to save on roaming charges. While the e-SIM has a number of advantages, it will mean that devices using the system can’t be hot-swapped, forcing travelers to either buy a new phone (and have to use a different number) or pay whatever roaming charges their carrier chooses to apply.
That aside, TIME reports that the CEO of GSMA, Anna Bouverot, is enthusiastic that the change is coming.
“We have got everyone back on one point, with Apple and Samsung agreeing to be part of that specification. We have been working with them and others to create an industry solution for machines and will agree a solution for consumer electronics.”
As the Inquisitr has previously reported, Apple may have already begun production on the iPhone 7. If this is the case, one has to wonder if it already includes the e-SIM card. If the new device is, in fact, the iPhone 7, it would seem to indicate that the e-SIM is already a done deal, as far as Apple is concerned.
Whatever the case, expect to see Apple and Samsung phones featuring electronic SIM cards soon.
[Photo by Don Crothers / Own Work]