By clicking one of our links you're supporting our labs and our independence, as we may earn a small share of revenue. Recommendations are separate from any business incentives.
Smartphones have completely changed how we interact with each other and our surroundings, but there's one feature in our little mobile gizmos that feels inescapably archaic: the SIM card. Why, in 2015, are we shackled to these little plastic widgets? Why isn't there a software-based alternative?
Well, Apple and Samsung are working on a solution. According to a report in the Financial Times, the two rivals are engaged in negotiations with various mobile carriers to implement a new type of SIM card. The report claims that the new device, called an e-SIM, would remain inside your phone—unlocked—and allow you to change network carriers through your mobile OS.
That sounds like it would save a lot of headaches, but don't hold your breath just yet. SIM locking is an advantageous feature for wireless carriers, as it discourages—or at least complicates—casual network swapping. Regardless, a number of major carriers have apparently already shown some degree of interest in switching to e-SIM, including AT&T, T-Mobile, Vodafone, and Orange.
Still, don't expect to see one of these next-gen SIM cards in a mobile device anytime this year. The FT claims they won't emerge until 2016.
In the meantime, iPhone users may have another option: Apple SIM. This technology, which allows users to switch between a few major carriers from within iOS, is currently available in the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3, and a similar version may appear in future versions of the iPhone.
Whatever the solution, it couldn't come sooner.