Qualcomm’s new iSIM tech is here to replace eSIM on your phones


  • Qualcomm has worked on iSIM for quite some time
  • Despite demonstrating the tech at MWC 2023, there’s no info on which phone will mark the debut of iSIM
  • The iSIM demo at MWC 2023 was performed on a modified Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

The 2023 iteration of the Mobile World Congress has been exciting, to say the least. One of the more notable announcements to come from the annual event has been the iSIM, which would be bundled with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC. This Qualcomm chipset also has the distinction of being the first to support the aforementioned iSIM, short for integrated SIM.

While the concept of iSIM is only now reaching the mainstream, it has been under development for several years. The latest solution comes as part of a partnership between French giant Thales and Qualcomm, with iSIM also receiving the required certification from the GSMA.

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How iSIM differs from eSIM

An eSIM is commonly used today in mid-range and flagship smartphones. While it doesn’t require a physical SIM card like a micro SIM, eSIMs require a dedicated module inside the phone to enable support.

By contrast, an iSIM is built into the chipset, beginning with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, thus making it easier to adopt en masse. However, it could take some time before iSIM replaces the existing SIM standards, given the hardware requirements.

But this technology will undoubtedly become more prevalent over the decade, effectively eradicating the practice of swapping physical SIM cards. Neither Qualcomm nor Thales offered info on the first set of hardware. Interestingly, the demonstration of iSIM was carried out using the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3.

If the rumour mill is anything to go by, Samsung’s upcoming mid-year foldables could be sporting the Qualcomm 8 Gen 2 chip under the hood. However, it’s unclear if Samsung or any other OEM using the new SoC will enable iSIM technology. This MWC announcement has certainly paved the way for phone makers to fully embrace iSIM on their upcoming devices.

Another area where iSIM could be used is with Internet of Things (IoT) products. Since the iSIM uses less than one square millimetre of space, it could be comfortably integrated within IoT devices, regardless of their size. Qualcomm speculates that more than 300 million iSIM-enabled phones will be shipped by 2027.

Source: Thales