Here’s an interesting bit of news out of Mobile World Congress: Qualcomm says the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 has been certified as the “world’s first commercially deployable iSIM (Integrated SIM)”. What the heck is an iSIM? Didn’t we just go through a SIM card transition with eSIM? We did, but iSIM is better than eSIM. We’ll explain, but the short answer is that iSIM is the next step in the continual march to reduce the size of SIM cards.[…]
eSIMs are still a chip taking up space on your motherboard, and that’s not ideal if you want to squeeze every square millimeter of space out of a phone. The next shrinking step is iSIM—an Integrated Subscriber Identity Module. Rather than a chip on the motherboard, iSIMs are integrated directly onto the SoC. SoC (system on a chip) integration is the technology that makes smartphones possible. Instead of a thousand little chips for things like the CPU, GPU, RAM, modem, and a bunch of other things, everything gets packed into one single do-everything piece of silicon. Individual chips require more space and power thanks to having to make motherboard traces to connect everything and having to deal with chip packages.
I’m still using an old-fashioned traditional SIM card, and while I’m sure going with eSIM and now iSIM is great from a simplification and power usage point of view, I feel like they’re both also about taking control away from the user and shifting it towards the carrier. It was a long fight to get rid of locked phones (mostly), but with eSIM/iSIM it seems locking devices down in more fine-grained ways only becomes easier.
I might be overreacting, but little red flags go up when I read about eSIM and now iSIM.
carriers have ways of restricting sim card swapping anyway. Look no further than CDMA provider turned GSM provider in the USA Verizon for an answer. They have a whitelisting program so if you sim swap into another phone that Verizon deems incompatible they will block its IMEI. I do however understand your point that integrating sim cards removes power from the user and I agree with you.