What is iSIM? Explaining the new SIM tech


At MWC 2023, Qualcomm announced that its flagship SoC, Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, has an iSIM built-in. The iSIM brings the SIM technology built into the SOC and it could be soon available in several smartphones. Here, I want to confirm that iSIM is different from eSIM in many ways. So, it is really important for you to know what is iSIM. In this article, I will explain iSIM and will also tell you how it differs from eSIM and physical SIM.

Also read: What is eSIM?

What is iSIM?

iSIM stands for Integrated SIM or Embedded SIM. It is also known as Integrated Universal Integrated Circuit Card (iUICC). The iSIM is a type of SIM technology that is integrated directly into the device’s hardware and is not removable. This means that instead of inserting a physical SIM card into your device, the SIM functionality is built into the device’s chipset. So, there is no need for a physical SIM slot and a separate module to manage SIM profiles.

iSIM is seen as the future of SIM technology because it offers a number of benefits over traditional physical SIM cards and even eSIMs iSIM is integrated into the device’s hardware. So, it frees up physical space within the device. It will help device manufacturers in making more compact designs. since iSIM is built into the device’s chipset, it is more secure and tamper-resistant than traditional SIM cards.

With iSIM, carriers will be able to manage the SIM data of customers’ devices remotely. It will save the customer time and hassle. The iSIM also lets a single device connect to multiple carriers. So, it will really be helpful for people who frequently travel internationally. They can easily switch carriers without needing to purchase a new SIM. It also enables easy over-the-air (OTA) updates of device profiles.

The iSIM can be integrated into IoT devices such as smart home appliances, industrial sensors, and connected vehicles, making them more secure and reliable.

iSIM vs eSIM

iSIM differs from eSIM (Embedded SIM) in that eSIMs are still separate components that are soldered onto the device’s circuit board. Here’s a size comparison of different types of SIMs available.

iSIM vs eSIM
Image Source

The iSIM is also more secure than eSIM.

Here’s a comparison table between iSIM and eSIM:

Physical formIntegrated into the device’s SoCSoldered onto the device’s circuit board, but not physically removable
Space-savingYes, frees up space within the deviceYes, eliminates the need for a physical SIM slot
Carrier provisioningPre-provisioned by the manufacturer or embedded remotelyCarrier profiles can be downloaded and installed by the user or carrier
SecurityMore secure and tamper-resistant than eSIMSecure, but not as tamper-resistant as iSIM
Manufacturing processSimplifies the supply chain and reduces environmental impactSimplifies the supply chain by eliminating the need for a physical SIM card

The iSIM is a promising technology that could revolutionize the way we use SIM cards in our devices. Most smartphones still come with physical SIM slots even if we have the eSIM technology available for a few years. Only a few flagship phones feature eSIM. Now that iSIM is available on Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, we will see a few flagship ones with the iSIM function.