After the eSIM comes Qualcomm’s iSIM

Qualcomm introduces the iSIM, a module integrated into the chip of electronic devices that could revolutionize the way we understand the "SIM card"

Security and privacy issues have perhaps never been perceived as seriously as they have been in recent times, thanks to the fact that smartphones are increasingly the main guardians of our data. And in a life that's moving rapidly toward digital, smartphones and connected devices have become the ultimate safes to protect.

As technology continues to grow, security solutions must move forward at the same pace to meet growing challenges. For smartphones, phone manufacturers and operators have long relied on the SIM, which stands for Subscriber Identity Module, to securely store information about the phone subscription and its subscriber. However, the SIM is a card that must be inserted into the device and therefore takes up space, the same that manufacturers are trying so spasmodically to save to design smartphones as compact as possible. So Qualcomm plans to evolve the SIM into an iSIM.

What is Qualcomm's iSIM

Qualcomm identifies the iSIM as the next evolutionary step of the "old" SIM, a new way to increase the security of devices, and consequently of their users, and enhance the user experience. The American leader thinks therefore to overcome with the new iSIM also the eSIM evolution, similar in principle but that, to tell the truth, has not taken root in the technological panorama as evidently it was foreseen.

The physical SIM resists, therefore Qualcomm bets on the iSIM that "offers connectivity and security - announces the company - to devices that could be smaller". The card, in Qualcomm's project, goes from a physical instrument to a protocol integrated in the chip of the devices so that users can activate or deactivate and manage their phone plan in comfort and security.

The eSIM probably hasn't had the success it had hoped for, also because it is smaller than a SIM and eliminates the moving parts, such as the "cart" to insert it in the smartphone, but it is still bulkier than the iSIM announced by Qualcomm as well as assuming a "physical" module, although invisible and fixed in the phone. The iSIM, in other words, should be about a tenth of the size of an eSIM, which in turn occupies half the space of a classic nano SIM.

The advantages of the iSIM

According to Qualcomm, the advantages of the iSIM can be summarized in four fundamental aspects, from which other advantages derive. First and foremost, it simplifies the design of devices that require a "card"; it can accommodate different numbers from different operators; it can contain ancillary protocols, such as electronic IDs (eIDs), banking profiles, etc.; and finally, it can enable remote provisioning, to essentially "remotely" access one's users.

The first chip to support iSIM is Qualcomm's Snapdragon 888, which is already included in many 2021 top-of-the-line devices including the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra 5G or the recently released Honor Magic3. It will have to be seen when operators will welcome a novelty like the one just announced, potentially revolutionary.