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Watch out eSIM, iSIM is coming for your lunch

Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is the first chip to iSIM.

Published onMarch 1, 2023

Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC up close
  • Qualcomm has partnered with Thales to bake iSIM or Integrated SIM capabilities right inside the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC.
  • The new form factor makes swapping carrier services much smoother and faster.
  • iSIMs also occupy significantly less space inside phones than eSIMs and physical SIM slots.

eSIMs are a great way to circumvent the need for a physical SIM card. Having eSIM capabilities on a phone can also be very helpful when you’re traveling and have to use switch carriers on the go. But Qualcomm now has tech that could make eSIMs obsolete.

The chipmaker has baked iSIM or Integrated SIM functionality right inside the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 platform. The new form factor is highly attractive as it makes swapping services much smoother and faster.

Unlike eSIMs, iSIMs are located on the main processor of a phone. This means the tech takes up much lesser space inside the device compared to physical SIM slots or even eSIMs.

iSIM vs eSIM

According to Qualcomm, this results in lower costs and improved efficiency for smartphone makers. It also allows manufacturers to create smaller, more compact devices.

Moreover, iSIMs draw less power compared to eSIMs, which makes them ideal for IoT devices, as per Thales, the mobile device security company that has partnered with Qualcomm to develop the tech. They also support the same high-standard security protections as the latest generation of eSIMs.

Qualcomm predicts that global iSIM shipments will reach 300 million by 2027, representing 19% of all eSIM shipments.

“Alongside the increasingly popular eSIM, the Thales 5G iSIM gives device makers and mobile operators even greater freedom to offer their customers effortless over-the-air connectivity, and more exciting and accessible product designs,” said Guillaume Lafaix, vice president of embedded products at Thales Mobile and Connectivity Solutions.

Qualcomm hasn’t confirmed whether existing Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 phones, like the Galaxy S23 series, are already iSIM capable. However, Thales has said that iSIMs will be first made available in high-end smartphones and eventually reach entry-level and mid-range smartphones, as well as wearables.

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