What are all the different SIM card sizes?
If you’ve just learned what a SIM card is, but still haven’t seen one, or if you’re trying to find a new SIM card because you want to switch providers, you might be curious what the different SIM card sizes are. There are four different sizes: a full-size SIM, mini SIM, micro SIM and nano SIM.
All SIM cards are pretty small (except for the OG SIM cards that were the size of a credit card…they’re kind of like the clunky ‘80s phone of SIM cards) because they need to fit into your smartphones, which are growing ever thinner. Here are the different sizes and their measurements in this handy-dandy SIM card size chart (print it out, put it on the fridge or maybe even get it tattooed on your back).
SIM Card Size Chart
|Name||Also known as…||Length||Width|
|Full-size SIM||1FF||85 mm||53 mm|
|Mini-SIM||2FF||25 mm||15 mm|
|Micro-SIM||3FF||15 mm||1 mm|
|Nano-SIM||4FF||12.3 mm||8.8 mm|
Gone are the days where a full-size SIM card is the size of a credit card. Thanks to today’s technology, some are about the size of your fingernail (and in the case of an eSIM, not even measurable since they’re not a physical card). But they all do the same thing: make your phone usable as a mobile device.
Fun fact: the actual chip size is the same for all of the different SIM cards. What sets them apart is actually the amount of plastic surrounding the chip. Manufacturers began removing this plastic as phones got smaller and couldn’t fit bigger SIM cards.
Comparing SIM Card Sizes
What is a standard SIM card?
Standard SIM cards were the original SIM cards (and, ironically, no longer the standard). They were first introduced in 1991 and are the biggest of all the SIM cards.
What is a mini SIM card?
Mini SIM cards were introduced in 1996 and are the second generation of SIM cards.
What is a micro SIM card?
Micro SIM cards are the third generation of SIM cards, and a size down from standard SIM cards (and up from the nano SIM cards). They were first introduced back in 2003. Compared to nano SIM cards, they have a slightly larger chip.
What is a nano SIM card?
A nano SIM is the smallest type of SIM card, measuring in at just 12.3 mm x 8.8 mm. The nano SIM card is the type most commonly used in the latest generations of smartphones. It is the fourth generation of SIM cards, having made their debut in 2012.
How do I know what size SIM card I have?
Since the early 2010s, most phones have used a nano SIM card. But if you really want to know what size SIM card you have, you could always do an internet search on your phone model to double-check what card you need or check if your phone came with that information included in a manual. You could also remove the SIM card to check and compare it to the different sizes. Here’s how to remove your SIM card:
If you have an iPhone:
- First look for the SIM tray on your phone. For most iPhones, this will be on the right-hand side. For an older iPhone, look for the SIM tray on the top. You can also check out our iPhone guide to figure out where it is by model.
- After you’ve found it, use something like a paperclip or a SIM Ejector Tool to push it in gently.
- It will release and you’ll be able to remove the SIM card from the tray to check the size.
In general, if you have an iPhone 5 or newer, you have a nano SIM card.
For a Samsung phone:
- First check if you have a removable back cover (this is typical in older Samsung phones).
- If your phone does, remove the back cover, take the battery out, and slide out the SIM card.
- However, if the back is sealed, look in the product manual to find where your SIM tray can be found.
- Insert the injection pin or paperclip into the hole on the SIM tray and pull it open, removing the SIM card. Now all that’s left to do is check the size.
Why have SIM card sizes changed?
Good question…and here’s the good answer. The chips in all the different types of SIM cards are actually the same size. What differs is the amount of plastic surrounding them. By changing the size of SIM cards, manufacturers are really just getting rid of wasted space.
Do all SIM cards fit all phones?
No, not all SIM cards fit all phones. Your phone will have a specific type of SIM card it needs because it will have a SIM tray of a specific size. For example, the Apple iPhone 13 needs a nano SIM, the smallest of all of the SIM cards. Full-size SIM cards are typically found in older phones like iPhones up to the 3GS and older Android models. You’ll find micro-SIM cards in older Samsung phones, but nano-SIM cards in later Samsung Galaxy devices.
Technically, you could get a SIM cutter to adjust the size of your SIM to make it fit if it was the wrong size, or purchase a SIM adapter to make sure all SIM cards fit your phone. But it would probably just be easier to go and get a new SIM card from your provider.
Nano SIM vs micro SIM
Nano SIM cards are the latest and smallest in physical SIM card technology. Nano SIM cards are the fourth generation of SIM cards, while the micro SIM card is the third generation. Nano SIM cards are 15 percent smaller than micro SIM cards.
Can I put a micro SIM in a nano SIM slot?
No, you cannot put a micro SIM in a nano SIM slot, since a nano SIM slot would be smaller. It would be like squeezing your feet into too small shoes…not good (especially if you’re Cinderella’s stepsister). There are technically ways, however, to go from a full-size SIM card to a micro SIM card using a SIM cutter tool. But that’s another story for another blog.
If you need one SIM card or the other and don’t have the right size, you can usually just call your network to be given the correct one. This issue is also why a lot of providers (ahem) offer 3-in-1 SIM cards that have different sizes for different phones.
eSIM vs Nano SIM
You may have noticed earlier that we referred to nano SIM cards as the latest and greatest in physical SIM card technology. That’s because there’s something even more cutting-edge: eSIM cards. An eSIM, also known as an embedded SIM, is a completely virtual SIM card— basically one you can’t physically touch. Instead, it’s a programmable SIM card that does what a physical SIM card does: it securely connects you with your network and gives you access to your service so you can use your plan. eSIM cards can easily be installed onto your phone or device by scanning a QR code.
Another bonus with eSIM is that you can have two SIM cards in a phone–either a physical card and an eSIM or, in the case of new generation phones like the iPhone 13, two eSIMs.
The different SIM card types
Now you know the sizes, the names and even some of the dates these SIM cards launched. Here are the different types of SIM cards:
- Physical SIM cards: The majority of what this article talks about and the type of SIM card you probably think about when you hear the words “SIM card.”
- eSIM: An embedded SIM that’s completely virtual. To install an eSIM, you’ll usually need to scan a QR code.
What do I do if I have the wrong SIM card?
The easiest thing to do is call up your network and ask for another one. Or, if you love you some DIY, you could potentially get a SIM card cutter tool. But just like haircuts at home, this might be best left to the pros. You can also purchase a SIM adapter.
What size SIM cards do most mobile providers send?
Nowadays, most providers send nano SIMs because they’re the most widely used among modern phones. But some providers, the coolest ones in fact, send 3-in-1 SIM cards so you’ll for sure have the right size.
Do different SIM card sizes have different data capacities?
You might think size matters in this case, but nope. Most SIM cards basically allow for the same amount of data to be stored on them–around 250 contacts, some messages and key identifying data.