Qualcomm and Thales debut iSIM at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, an even smaller and more direct way to integrate cellular service within connected devices.
BARCELONA—Qualcomm and Thales today announced what they say is the world’s first commercially available integrated SIM (iSIM). Qualcomm built the iSIM directly into its Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 mobile processor, bringing SIM card functionality to the processor itself.
The iSIM is similar in theory to an eSIM (embedded SIM), which replaces swappable SIM cards. These subscriber identity modules constitute the device’s subscription to a network, and mobile phones already offer eSIM technology today. The iPhone 14 family famously ditched physical SIM cards altogether (in the US) in favor of eSIM, for example.
With an eSIM, mobile phone users can download and sign up for cellular service using software instead of replaceable physical cards, providing more flexibility in some cases. However, even with eSIM, an actual physical SIM module is still within the device, albeit one that’s much smaller than even a nano SIM card.
An iSIM forgoes the need for this tiny physical element. Qualcomm and Thales say this new tech will give device makers more flexibility to create connected hardware by helping save internal space and sidestep supply chain costs while providing the necessary functionality and security.
The iSIM is “fully compliant” with the GSMA’s certification processes, the companies say. It will allow people to remotely sign up for cellular service from 8 Gen 2-powered smartphones. Right now, only a couple of 8 Gen 2 devices are on the market, including the Samsung Galaxy S23, and they do not include iSIM functionality.
The companies did not say if any device makers have agreed to produce iSIM phones, tablets, or other products in the near future, but iSIM-enabled products are expected to reach shipments of 300 million by 2027.