While physical SIM cards are more than likely here to stay, eSIMs as an option are slowly becoming more prominent. But despite its benefits to mobile devices (mainly space), it looks like chip maker Qualcomm and French tech company Thales Group think they can do better. The result is what they dub iSIM, or integrated SIM, as opposed to embedded SIM. Poignant, as Thales was involved in the development of eSIM to begin with.
For the average user, there would not be any perceivable difference between the two. But if you’re into the nitty-gritty, then iSIM improves upon eSIM by having the necessary hardware integrated into the processor of the mobile device itself. In comparison, while eSIMs made physical SIM cards unnecessary, mobile devices still needed a dedicated chip in them to support the tech. Despite this, it will still come with the same security standards that eSIMs touted.
As part of the announcement, Qualcomm says that the “world’s first deployable iSIM” tech will come to the Snapdragon 8 Gen2 Mobile Platform first. This means that flagship devices coming out this year will likely come with support for the new tech, even if no specific device was named, nor any specific partner brands identified like Snapdragon Satellite. In the same vein, it remains to be seen if Qualcomm intends to extend this tech to the newer chipsets of the other numbered series. That would determine if devices more affordable than the flagship class will get access to iSIM tech.
It’s worth pointing out though while Qualcomm and Thales Group are making this announcement now, iSIM has technically been around for about five years. Back in 2018, ARM made its own iSIM announcement, though at the time the focus was more for IoT devices on scale, making the application more of an enterprise thing than one for consumers.
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