I'm thinking about using 3ff SIMs for my product launch in the summer. I realize that it's basically a 2ff SIM without all of the plastic, but has anyone heard of a major deployment using these new SIMs? Has anyone done testing using these SIMs and what have the results been? We are still early in the testing phase.
Thanks in advance!
The Apple iPad uses the 3FF SIM.
I do not know specifically what Apple's testing results have been - but there should be no difference to a 2FF SIM. As you pointed out, the 3FF SIM is the same as 2FF but with a less plastic. All electrical and logical functions of the SIM are the same.
3FF is simply the same as a standard plug-in SIM with even more of the plastic removed, so that there is very little plastic between the face plate of the SIM and the edge of the card. Imagine that you take a standard plug-in SIM and trim off as much as possible of the plastic, then you will have a 3FF SIM.
A VQFN8 SIM is a SIM on a chip. It is soldered to the board of the device and is not removable.
Smaller form factor is about the only benefit of the 3FF SIM. There is no other difference from a 2FF SIM, therefore no other benefit.
This does not stop any operator from having 3FF SIMs that have different characteristics - e.g. providing 3FF SIMs that use stronger plastics for a greater temperature range. But that would not be a benefit that is unique to the 3FF form factor.
I do not know how many operators support the 3FF SIM. It is not a technical issue for an operaor to support the 3FF SIM, but may be an operational one - yet another SKU to manage.
Just to add that 3ff has already been deployed in Italy by H3G - it's not a prototypal technology, it is a product. But as it has already been written, it doesn't add anything else then a smaller size with less plastic, it was introduced to make handset smaller, not really for M2M.
M2M UICC specification is under approval by ETSI (ETSI TS 102 671), with a form factor close to QFN8 and with specific requirements of Temperature, endurance, etc.
We have been using 3FF SIMs for a few months now and have noticed no difference in quality from the typical "plug-in" type that are used in most mobile phones. One aspect that we he found useful is the dual cut-out that allows the SIM to be used in either the "plug in" or 3FF application - and we have also used the re-pluggable versions that allows the smaller 3FF size to be inserted back into the "plug in" carrier. Note that these two types of SIMs have subtle differences in the pad layouts - see ETSI TS 102 221 for complete specs.
We have also tried to laser cut down the plug-in type to create the 3FF size... it is not quite as simple as it seems due to substrate positioning. And anyway, most of the manufacturers now support 3FF.
If you seek connector solutions for 3ff SIM then go to http://www.gradconn.com/sim-holders/micro-sim-connector.asp
We just launched the CH03-FB which is a economical version 2.4mm high with part metal shell. 3d IGES is available online.
I would be interested if anyone has appplcations where a hinged connector is required, we have one in development but any customer feedback is always useful.
GradConn also provide connectors solutions for full size SIM cards.
In Australia, I know of at least one company looking at deploying 3FF SIM cards in their application. I believe the benefit for them is additional space so they can squeeze their unit within a larger machine.
Out of interest, we are also seeing a lot of interest in the deployment of VQFN8/SON8 SIM cards in the M2M world too. These are probably more suited to the M2M environment as they operate over wider temperatures and designed to maximise lifespan, more resistant to stress and have a very low failure rate.
Actually space saving is the only benefit in using 3ff sim cards as far as I know. 3ff or 2ff punching has nothing to do with any kind of application as both using the same chip modules. Also applying both 2ff and 3ff punches on one card is possible. But you can convert a 2FF punch to 3FF but it is not possible in revers(there are manufacturers claiming that backward convertion is also possible for 10 times).
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