With the launch of the latest iPad model, Apple debuted its own SIM card that allows users to choose between three different cell carriers and change service on-the-fly. Rumors that such a card could be included in the next iPhone appeared almost immediately, and now a new report confirms that Apple is in talks with cellular carriers and other handset makers to bring this type of system to all cell phones.
The idea behind the talks is a universal standard for embedded SIM cards (“e-SIM”) that are built into the phone and not user accessible. These subscriber identity modules would allow customers to sign up for service on any network they wanted, then allow them to switch at any time (obviously with some limitations placed by the carriers).
Apple isn’t the only smartphone manufacturer in these discussions. Samsung is also reported to be part of the talks, meaning this tech could become a real standard across iPhone and Android devices, unlike Apple’s current SIM which is locked specifically to the company’s hardware.
Mobile providers currently included in the talks are said to include AT&T, T-Mobile US parent company Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone, Orange, Etisalat, Hutchison Whampoa, and Telefónica. Whether other carriers will get on board remains to be seen, but if future phones are going to debut with this technology, it seems like a wise move on their part.
Plans for the e-SIM haven’t been finalized yet, but the group working on the standard hopes to have it rolled out some time in 2016, missing in the next iPhone, but putting in on track to appear in the next major generation. Curiously, the Financial Times says that the embedded SIM may not actually replace the Apple SIM, but work alongside it. Given that the two seem to accomplish the same goal, this seems like an odd possibility.