Engineers aren’t strangers to conflicts in design, and just like Linux, everyone thinks their "flavor" is best. With the new 4FF nano-SIM being proposed by Apple, several manufacturers feel it’s their duty to butt in with advice, even if 80 percent of those whose opinion matters don’t agree with it.
RIM, Microsoft and Nokia are all arguing in favor of different designs, but specifically, all against Apple’s.
In late March, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) sat down to vote on the two SIM standards being proposed by Apple, RIM and Motorola. Nokia publicly referred to an ETSI requirement, arguing that its design “prevents the 4FF from becoming jammed in a MiniUICC reader."
An example is that if the 4FF is turned 90 degrees it fits perfectly into the MiniUICC reader (4FF length = Mini-UICC width). Apple’s design does not meet this requirement, and could easily be jammed in the wrong adaptor.
Schematic from RIM's March 2012 nano-SIM slide deck
RIM’s proposal is a bit more cutting edge, literally, featuring a notch on one side, which would allow the SIM to be clipped in place instead of relying on a tray. Due to the addition of said notch, the contacts on RIM’s design suffers the lack of backwards compatibility. It would be impossible to use a nano-SIM in a micro-SIM tray, which Apple’s design allows for.
An unfortunate realization transpired. If RIM, Motorola, Nokia, and Apple fail to back down, two SIM standards could emerge. Despite suggestions of merging the two designs, Apple declared it didn’t think it possible, but said it was willing to adopt both standards. Why Apple would do this, no one knows, but it doesn’t matter. With 80 percent voting in favor of Apple, the company knows that what it adopts will probably echo throughout the industry, as it’s unlikely any carrier would stop selling the iPhone based on its SIM design.
RIM, Motorola, and Nokia went back to the drawing board, pulled their socks up, and designed a compromise. A very compelling compromise, incorporating backwards compatibility with aforementioned notch. Not only would this save space, but it wouldn’t need a tray.
While it is a compelling compromise, the next meeting is scheduled to take place on May 31st and June 1st in Osaka, Japan, and it’s yet to be seen whether Apple and ETSI will vote in its favor.
Let’s hope the standard that’s decided upon is the right one.--Sam Caplat is a software programmer who has worked with XDA Developers and TechnoBuffalo