A SIM where a SIM's not meant to go


hacking a microsim card for a nanosim using post-it note bits

It would be unwise for anyone to do this, but one of the problems of having to use an iPhone 4S while your iPhone 5S is out of commission is the difference in the sizes of the SIM cards. As you may know, the iPhone 4S uses a micro-SIM, an already much smaller version of the typical SIM cards we used to shove into our phone-phones, back in the days we actually used to call people, and texting was more common.

The iPhone 5 goes a step further though, housing an even small nano-SIM, and while a step in the right direction, it makes people that have to switch devices or getting new devices also need to change their SIM cards frequently. Good thing that this is usually a free service these days (at least, if you already have an existing SIM card and service), unlike the time I paid $20 to get a nano-SIM.

3G addiction is a terrible(-y good) thing

In any case, rather than face the prospect of no 3G or means of communication unless I was within WiFi signal for a few days (because I tend to be a little addicted to my connection to the interwebs), I set out to hack the nano-SIM to fit into the iPhone 4S micro-SIM tray. Anyone who has read the handbook will tell you don’t do this at home, kiddos.

I’ve done something similar before with my Samsung Galaxy Note (n7000), when mysteriously Telechoice, the company that sold me the phone via Optus, gave me a micro-SIM instead of a full-sized SIM that was already becoming uncommon in those days. As long as I could get the metal contacts in the right place, it didn’t matter the size, as long as you could somehow remove the card later… (I’ve had a few moments of panic before ingenuity kicked in).

Ingenuity in the form of desk stationery

In this case, I had some Post-it notes sitting on my desk so I decided to put these to use. The top edge was just sticky enough to hold firmly to the card without leaving any sticky residue on the card which was perfect, so all I needed was to cut the Post-it note in the right size, and stick it to the tray before worming the SIM card into just the right place.

The bottom edge of the SIM card is held firmly in place by the bottom of the SIM card tray itself, as I realised when I inspected how it held an old disconnected micro-SIM, so I was only concerned whether the top section would end up ‘peeling away’ from the post-it note and somehow being lodged inside the phone so I wouldn’t be able to remove it.

I decided to risk a little bit of sticky residue and peeled off a tiny portion (two millimetres or so) of some Scotch Tape (which we have here in Australia) and firmly tape it to the edge of the nano-SIM with the largest non-metal-contact surface area.

I slipped it inside gingerly, and although it was noticeably a little tighter, it still fit, although left the tray not quite perfectly inside the phone. A case covered that up nicely afterwards. I tested, popping the tray in and out a few times to make sure I wouldn’t have to go and get a new nano-SIM at the end of the saga after all, and each time the tray slipped out smoothly.

But the real test is… after all that, can we achieve the mystical 3G signal? I switched the phone back on, and after a few anxious waits, and cycling the phone to Airplane Mode and back again for good measure, the appearance of the two letters… ‘3G’ at the top of the screen was a sight to behold.