The good old SIM card in your phone isn’t going to remain just a chip that facilitates voice and text communication. If Samsung, Apple and ChatSim are successful in what they have envisioned, using smartphones will become easier and cost effective.
Apple and Samsung are preparing a new SIM standard that would make it easier for consumers to switch between mobile carriers. The Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA) is expected to make the official announcement soon, and the new SIM standard will be known as the embedded SIM (e-SIM).
At first, the e-SIM would be used with Apple and Samsung smartphones, and would allow consumers to switch mobile carriers without having to buy and activate a new SIM card—this would indeed save a lot of hassle when switching from one mobile service provider to another. If all goes through, we should see the first e-SIM-capable smartphones being launched by the two companies in the summer of 2016.
Incidentally, this isn’t the first time Apple has tried something like this. In October 2014, Apple launched what is the current generation of the iPad tablets—the Apple iPad Air 2 and Apple iPad Mini 3. In the US market, the iPad optionally ships with a new SIM card standard called the Apple SIM. This SIM lets customers easily switch their limited duration mobile data plans between AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, GigSky and EE. And even before e-SIM makes its way into smartphones, we expect the Apple SIM in iPad and iPhone updates expected later this year. However, whether Apple makes this available for users outside the US is still not clear.
This service makes it easy for users to switch operators, through a simple menu on the iPad itself. It also increases the choice for the consumer and introduces competition between the operators, which could force them to reduce tariffs and improve quality of service (network, data speeds, roaming etc.).
ChatSIM, formerly known as WhatSIM, is an international roaming SIM card meant for heavy text communication and instant messenger users. This is a service from Italian mobile service provider, Zeromobile Srl, and is called the world’s first “Instant Messaging Mobile Operator”. ChatSim has roaming agreements with 400 networks in 150 countries. The basic premise of this SIM card is to allow users unlimited use of apps such as WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Skype, Viber, LINE, Google Hangouts, iMessage, and any other instant messaging that you may be using. All other apps are automatically blocked, to prevent accidental data usage by other apps installed on the phone.
There is a fixed charge €10 for the SIM to be activated with the unlimited text message service, and has a validity of one year—after the year is complete, it can be recharged with €10 again, and a fresh 12-month validity is activated. If you also want to send media or make voice calls using these messenger apps (such as Viber or LINE calls), users can recharge with another €10 which adds 100 minutes worth of talk-time.
ChatSim is designed in such a way that the same chip can be used in all smartphones, irrespective of whether they use the standard, micro or nano size SIM cards. The company has now added 4G networks to its list of roaming partners in Belgium, Canada, South Korea, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the UK and Spain.
ChatSim is extremely useful for travelers who use messenger apps to communicate with friends and family back home. And quite cost effective compared with international roaming on your existing mobile connection or buying an international roaming SIM card.