The successor to eSIMs arrives, everything that changes for smartphones

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Qualcomm and Thales took advantage of MWC 2023 to announce the upcoming arrival of iSIMs, which replace current eSIMs and classic SIMs. We explain all the changes that these iSIMs can bring to the world of smartphones and connected objects.

Did you think you were in step with the times with your smartphone using an eSIM instead of the traditional SIM? It seems that Qualcomm and Thales are going to leave your phone a bit outdated with the announcement of the integration of an iSIM (Integrated SIM) on the American giant’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile platform.

A first certified 5G iSIM

We already told you about iSIMs in January 2022, but it was still a project in development. In Qualcomm’s press release, the San Diego company announces that it has received the green light from the GSMA (the international association of mobile operators) for the right to use an iSIM instead of eSIM and SIM. The announcement goes further, since a iSIM will be integrated into the famous Snapdragon processor found in most smartphones sold on the planet.

In detail, the iSIM will be integrated into the SoC (system on a chip), the chip of a smartphone or a connected object (watch, ring, glasses, etc.) including the processor, memory or 5G modem. This integration will initially take place within the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 which is noticeably present on the Vivo X90 Pro Plus, but also and above all on the Samsung Galaxy S23.

why does it matter

The certification of the iSIM developed by Thales and integrated by Qualcomm in a mobile processor is an important step. It allows smartphone manufacturers (Apple, Samsung, etc.) products on the market that integrate this famous iSIM. The certification also indicates that the security level of the iSIM is as high as that of the eSIM.

On the other hand, Qualcomm has not announced if iSIM is an option that the manufacturer must choose when ordering the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, or if it is necessarily present and can be activated on demand by the manufacturer. The latter can then offer the iSIM to its customers who have purchased the product, be it a smartphone or a connected watch, for example.

What seems pretty certain to us, however, is the fact that smartphones already shipping with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, like the Samsung Galaxy S23, you will not be able to take advantage of this novelty, due to the necessary certifications. Unless a remote update arrives to fix all this.

What is the interest of iSIM?

But by the way, why switch to iSIM when eSIM has only been around since 2016 with the Samsung Gear S2 Classic 3G? The reasons are quite simple to understand. An eSIM can be miniaturized, it still takes up space on the PCB (electronic board) from a smartphone or a connected object. The great advantage of the iSIM is that it does not take up space: it is integrated directly into the SoCthat does not change in size with or without this famous integrated iSIM.

As you will have understood, iSIM will make it possible to design and produce increasingly compact and thin connected objects. On its explanatory page of technology, Such emphasizes connected objects, since they are the ones that seek to be as miniature as possible. The iSIM will then allow them reduce the size of your PCBbut also of reduce the consumptionwith one less element to power, because it is already present in another chip necessary for the operation of the device.

Another advantage of iSIM is being able to bring a product to market faster and cheaper. In fact, there is one less chip to integrate into the product. This makes it possible to reduce the size of the electronic card, but also to dispense with theNGOs and expensive testsalready done upstream by Qualcomm.

When will the first iSIM arrive?

Thales believes iSIM will arrive first on a high-end smartphone. It is possible then that the future Samsung Galaxy S24 integrates this technology since the Korean giant has always been in favor of the rapid integration of new technologies, such as eSIM in 2016. But it is also possible that a Chinese manufacturer is a little more flexible in its The launch schedule pays homage to Samsung as the Galaxy S24 is rumored to adopt Qualcomm’s future chip, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3.

Whatever happens, the French electronics group predicts that the iSIM boom will come mainly from connected objects, with a massive deployment in 2024.

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