ETSI Agrees on 4FF Nano-SIM Standard, Likely Apple’s Proposed Design

3 June 2012, 2:46 pm EDT

Apple seems to have won the battle over the standard for a smaller SIM card, officially known as the fourth form factor (4F), which leaves future phone designs with more room for other components. The Smart Card Platform Technical Committee of the European Telecommunication Standards Institute (ETSI) has finally reached an agreement on Friday, June 1, for the nano-SIM standard.

The new SIM standard will be 40 percent smaller than the current smallest SIM card, and it will measure 12.3 millimeters x 8.8 millimeters x 0.67 millimeters, according to ETSI. The new design will reportedly offer the same functionality as all current SIM cards, and it can be packaged and distributed in a manner that is backwards compatible with current SIM cards, added ETSI.

According to a spokesman for the standards organization, ETSI is not releasing any further details regarding the vote of the winning design specification. The winner for the specification was identified by card maker Giesecke & Devrient, which had a representative in the committee, IDG News reports.

ETSI members were supposed to reach an agreement on the standard at another meeting at the end of March, but failed to reach a conclusion and delayed the decision. RIM and Nokia have tried to question Apple's efforts, and Nokia even accused Apple of misusing the standardization process. The Finnish company also said that it would not license essential patents related to Apple's proposal if the iPhone maker won.

According to Giesecke & Devrient, the smaller size of the nano-SIM cards will leave more room inside future phones for additional memory and larger batteries, while helping phone manufacturers develop thinner devices.

The ETSI announced on its Web site that the nano-SIM standard has been decided at the Smart Card Convention Technical Committee meeting in Osaka. The committee did not explicitly name Apple as the winner. "We don't communicate the specific details of how the decision was arrived at or which proposal was chosen," the committee told The Verge, in response to the publication's inquiries. "It's no longer a question of one company or another, the industry has collectively made a decision."

Apple's proposed standard matches the final measurements of the winning standard, but this match does not guarantee that Apple owns the winning design. RIM and Motorola's proposal reportedly features the same dimensions. According to ETSI, the final design will be published to its Web site in the near future. 

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