June 16, 2010 | Andy Boxall
Because there are now several countries where the iPhone 4 is sold unlocked, everyone can choose the best network and tariff for their needs while not tying themselves down to a long contract. There is no doubt that this is the way phones should be sold, however, buying the iPhone 4 in this way has a distinct problem all of its own: the micro-SIM card.
The person who buys the iPhone 4 unlocked from Apple almost certainly has a phone with a contract already, which they’re presumably happy with and have no wish to change or upgrade. But their existing SIM will be a mini version, used in every digital phone since the late-’90s, which won’t fit, leaving them with two solutions.
Solution one is to attack your SIM with a pair of scissors and cut it down to size. The trouble is, you’ve got to be precise and if you’ve seen a micro and mini SIM together, you’ll know that the chips are slightly different sizes so there is no obvious guide to aid measurements. If you mess it up, you’ll be left without a phone or if your mini-SIM was using all of the chip surface, you could lose data and be without a phone. Some choice.
So, not wanting to slice up your card, you could request a new micro-SIM from your network, but you’ll have to wait for it to be delivered, leaving your brand new phone in the box until it arrives, then activate it over the phone. You could also drop into your local network shop and ask for a replacement there and then, but judging by this report, some customer service staff don’t even know the iPhone 4 takes a different size SIM! So good luck with that.
Worst of all though, is if you’re planning to take your unlocked iPhone to another country and want to use a SIM on a local network, as you’ll have to choose the first solution to the problem unless the iPhone 4 is already sold there.
You can forget about the lack of Flash support and the high prices, the biggest pain about the iPhone 4 is its use of the micro-SIM card, which for many offers no benefit and is only viewed as an inconvenience.
As in all times like this, there are one or two heroes who emerge to assist the frustrated masses. The first is a company called Cut My Sim, who produce a sort of stapler/hole punch hybrid that will cut your existing mini-SIM down to micro-SIM size. A great idea, but it costs $25/£20 and is sold out until July. Then there is a man named John Benson, who has published in-depth instructions on how to cut down your SIM to micro-SIM size. It looks relatively straight-forward, but the meat cleaver may be a pain to find.
Are you in a similar situation? Tell us how you’re planning to get around the micro-SIM situation if you’re buying an unlocked phone. Is your network helping you out? Or do you have another solution we haven’t mentioned here?