The iPhone 12 series of mobile phones was released. The iPhone 12 mini has attracted the attention of many "small screen parties". They rushed to Apple's official website with "coins", only to find that the iPhone 12 mini is a single-card phone, and they can only choose "Next time" .
No, isn’t it that the iPhone 12 mini is a dual-SIM phone?
It turns out that although they are all iPhone 12 minis, they are very different. The mainland version of the iPhone 12 mini is a physical SIM single-card mobile phone, and the US version of the iPhone 12 mini is a physical SIM card plus an eSIM dual-SIM mobile phone.
▲ According to Apple's US official website, the iPhone 12 series phones are all physical SIM + eSIM dual cards
Recently, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued an approval document, agreeing China Mobile and China Telecom to develop eSIM technology application services in the Internet of Things and other fields, and China Unicom's eSIM service was licensed as early as this year. So far, the three major operators have all received the "red-head documents" of the eSIM business, indicating that eSIM will be popularized in China.
Why are mobile phone manufacturers and operators represented by Apple promoting eSIM cards?
What is eSIM?
▲ Comparison chart of SIM card and eSIM card. Image source: e-enthusiast.com
eSIM card (Embedded-SIM) is an embedded micro SIM card. It directly embeds the traditional SIM card on the device chip without adding it to the device as an independent removable component, which solves many "pain points" of the physical SIM card.
According to the current eSIM card technical standards, theoretically, the most direct benefit of the eSIM card for users is that it allows users to flexibly choose operator packages or change operators at any time without unlocking the device or purchasing a new device.
At present, eSIM cards are mainly used in terminals such as smart phones, smart watches, smart home appliances, and Internet of Things devices.
With a SIM card, why do eSIM?
Many people think of SIM cards when they see eSIM. Yes, eSIM is a more advanced evolution form of SIM card.
First, let’s take a look at the SIM card. The Chinese for the SIM card (Subscriber Identity Module) is "User Identity Module". It looks very small in size, but it can achieve many important functions, such as storing SMS data and phone numbers, providing user identity authentication, providing confidential algorithms and key functions.
▲ Familiar physical SIM card, card slot and card pin
However, the SIM card has many disadvantages.
1. Take up valuable space inside smart devices
The internal design integration of smart devices is getting higher and higher. In order to plug in larger camera modules and batteries, various mobile phone manufacturers are doing everything possible to "eat dry and squeeze out" every little space in the phone. In order to save space, we cut the original SIM card to become smaller and smaller.
▲ The perspective of the internal structure of iPhone 11 series mobile phones shows that the internal hardware integration and space utilization are quite high. Image source: iFixit
2. Inconvenient to replace and store
A few days ago, I had to change a SIM card for my mobile phone. After borrowing it all around, my colleagues could not find the card pin. Finally, I rummaged through several mobile phone boxes in the warehouse and found a card pin.
When I was about to change my SIM card, I found that the new SIM on the desk fell on the floor under the desk. It might be that I accidentally got it off when I got up.
The SIM card is not only troublesome to replace, but also easy to lose.
3. Increase the production cost of smart devices
In order to insert the SIM card into the body, the smart device has to make a slot to place the card holder, which invisibly increases the design cost, the visual effect is not beautiful, and even there are additional risks-due to process design issues, some mobile phone users Misunderstanding that the microphone hole is the SIM card holder hole, the microphone is broken.
▲ The SIM card slot on the side of iPhone 12 Pro. Picture from: Apple's official website
4. Insufficient flexibility
At present, the application and cancellation of SIM, as well as the corresponding package processing, are more complicated in most scenarios, and the rights of users have not been well reflected.
Even if the country clearly promotes the number portability transfer service, many users still find that some operators have set up some obstacles before and after the number portability transfer due to different SIM card formats, which affects the actual experience.
Because of seeing the pain points of users, some software vendors also want to use eSIM cards to enter the bureau and develop telecom operations ingeniously.
Therefore, the SIM card has almost become a "public enemy." The factory doesn't like it, the hardware manufacturer doesn't like it, the user doesn't like it, and even some software manufacturers and communication equipment manufacturers don't like it. The birth of the eSIM card can be said to be well received.
eSIM has many advantages and is environmentally friendly
In theory, eSIM basically solves the shortcomings of the SIM card.
1. It is smaller, further saving space.
Taking Infineon's 5G eSIM solution OC1110 as an example, the package size of eSIM is about 96% smaller than that of Nano SIM card.
In the future development of eSIM card, there will also be eSIM SIP form and eSIM SOC form. The eSIM is concentrated in the baseband, and the volume will be further reduced.
▲ Infineon launched the world's first industrial-grade eSIM card with micro-package. Picture from: Electronic Fans Network
2. It is integrated inside the fuselage, there is no replacement and storage problems.
It is foreseeable that as long as eSIM cards are used on a large scale, card pins and card slots will become a thing of the past, and the card cutting business will disappear.
3. The process design cost of the smart device is further reduced, and there is no need to slot the tray, the integration degree is higher, and it is also beneficial to waterproof and dustproof.
For example, the cellular version of the Apple Watch does not have a physical SIM card slot, and its waterproof performance greatly exceeds that of the iPhone, reaching up to 50 meters waterproof. If the physical SIM card design is adopted, whether such a high level of waterproof can be achieved is a big question mark.
▲ Apple Watch without a physical SIM card slot is waterproof up to 50 meters. Picture from: Apple's official website
4. In theory, the eSIM card can switch operators and packages flexibly, but whether it can be realized in the end depends on the relevant national regulations and the openness of operators.
At present, a more feasible solution is that when we enter another country or region with a mobile phone with eSIM card function, we no longer need to find a local operator to open a physical SIM card, and we can apply directly on the mobile phone. When you leave, you can disable or log out on your phone.
In addition, the promotion of eSIM cards is also conducive to environmental protection. Physical SIM cards and their packaging need to consume plastic, metal, and paper. One eSIM card is equivalent to countless cards before, reducing a lot of resource consumption.
Among 5G and the Internet of Things, eSIM has great imagination
At present, everyone is concerned about the "convenience problem" brought about by eSIM. Can you let yourself be more free to change telecom packages or operators.
And if we look farther, we will find that the advantages of eSIM cards make it more applicable, wearable devices, smart home appliances, automobiles, and even industrial Internet of Things can have its presence.
Smart watches such as Apple Watch, Huawei Watch, OPPO Watch, etc., some models are equipped with eSIM cards, and have been well received by users during the pilot use of eSIM. The frequency of users carrying or using mobile phones can be reduced, which is more convenient for large-screen mobile phone users. A lot.
▲ When the smart wearable device is connected to the Internet (such as connecting to Bluetooth, WiFi or opening eSIM), it can do some operations on the phone, reducing the frequency of picking up the phone. Image from: Apple's official website
In terms of automobiles, unmanned driving is one of the promising directions for people. With eSIM and 5G, the reliability of unmanned driving will be more guaranteed. The eSIM card is integrated in the car. In case of an emergency such as a car accident, the possibility of the eSIM loosening and falling off is theoretically lower than that of the physical SIM card. The eSIM does not need to be replaced manually as the communication standard or service provider changes like a physical SIM card, only software updates are required.
In terms of industrial Internet, eSIM can be very effective, such as street lights, traffic lights, water and electricity meters, etc., also have networking requirements, but the cost of rewiring to connect to the network is too high, the stability of WiFi connection is difficult to ensure, and the card slot design of the physical SIM card is also It is difficult to reliably waterproof under wind and sun, and subsequent maintenance is also a big problem.
In theory, the eSIM card can solve these problems. While not changing the product form greatly, after the product is damaged, it is gradually replaced with an eSIM-enabled product to realize the networking function and the subsequent maintenance cost is relatively low.
Take water and electricity meters as an example. It is almost difficult to read manual water meters in the future. The water and electricity meters will automatically upload data when they expire, reminding users to pay on their mobile phones.
▲Most of the meter readings currently require manpower statistics, especially in rural electricity meter statistics, which is very difficult. Picture from: Yibin News Network
There are also traffic lights. With eSIM and 5G, the control of traffic lights will be more intelligent after 5G linkage. Knowing how to schedule is the best solution, reducing unnecessary waiting time for parking.
Moreover, because the traffic lights have networking and computing capabilities, the dependence on physical pipelines will be reduced, and pipeline burial can be simplified to a certain extent. In scenarios where pipelines cannot be buried, such as mobile traffic lights temporarily set during holidays and holidays, if eSIM functions are available, they will not be so "rigid" as they are now. Only one traffic light switching time can be fixed.
eSIM is good or not, promotion is not optimistic
At present, it is difficult to activate eSIM service for mobile phones in China, and it can only be activated on specific conditions and specific devices.
For example, smart watches with eSIM cards and mobile phones with eSIM cards used by overseas students returning home can open eSIM. The business scale is much smaller than that of ordinary mobile phone SIM card services.
▲ The No. 1 dual-terminal eSIM service launched by China Mobile. Picture from: China Mobile official website
Taking the cellular version of Apple Watch to open the No. 1 dual terminal service as an example, the user only needs to enter the Watch application on the iPhone, follow the operator’s prompts, and the conditions can be activated. There is no need to go to the business hall to apply. The monthly fee is generally 10 yuan/ month. At the same time, there are many restrictions, such as non-pilot or unopened cities can not be opened, the mobile phone must have a SIM card of the same operator to be able to open, etc.
From the launch of the pilot function to the official opening now, after about 2 years, the promotion of eSIM card can be said to be a bit slow. As of now, there is no official statement about the reason for the slow promotion. There are many statements on the Internet. We will do the main point of view. Some sorting out.
1. Cost factor.
Some people think that the total cost advantage of eSIM is obvious, but it is not a simple switch to eSIM. A lot of work has to be done in the internal design of smart devices, industrial chain adjustments, and operator support. These are all costs. It is not a small threshold and requires all industries to work together.
▲ The mobile phone still relies on the existence of the SIM card, the card slot and the card pin. If the SIM card is changed, there are many chain changes. Picture from: @brett_jordan (Unsplash)
2. Operator factors.
Some people think that once the potential of eSIM is fully opened up, users can freely choose and switch between operators and telecom packages. This is unwilling for operators to see, so they have been reluctant to advance.
However, judging from the three domestic operators' proactive attempts to develop eSIM services in recent years, this statement is untenable. If operators are really afraid that eSIM will affect their status, they can start with other aspects such as handling review rules and do not have to strive for pilot eSIM services.
3. Technical factors.
Others believe that in the past few years, eSIM had many technical difficulties that could not be overcome. eSIM can repeatedly activate and deregister packages, and how to accurately identify the user's true identity is a difficult problem. If eSIM is cracked by criminals and used for spam promotion or fraud, there is a certain degree of difficulty in supervision. Now the eSIM card has been comprehensively promoted after several years of pilot projects and technological upgrading, and the problem has been overcome, and it has been recognized by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
Concept change brought by eSIM
Compared with SIM cards, eSIM is smaller and easier to integrate into small devices. In theory, more items can be made "smart", which will have a very large impact on the user's mind and may further eliminate intelligence to a certain extent. The "central" status of mobile phones.
The decentralization of mobile phones is an inevitable trend and a good trend.
Take the iPhone as an example. Its health record and communication functions have been stripped off by Apple Watch with eSIM to a certain extent, and its audio-visual experience has been stripped off by AirPods to a certain extent (wired headsets are only detachable and are essentially part of the mobile phone. Bluetooth headsets It is an independent individual), and its visual output may be stripped off by smart glasses in the future, etc. As long as these peripherals can be built-in eSIM to exist independently and there are no artificial barriers to use, through 5G technology, most of the calculation and processing are handed over to the cloud server, and the frequency of mobile phone use will be greatly reduced.
▲ eSIM is getting smaller and smaller and more integrated, paving the way for the interconnection of everything, and networking and computing capabilities are no longer exclusive to smartphones. Image from: @Chuncun (知识)
The reason why this is a good trend is that if the mobile phone is the center, there will be limitations in terms of smart experience. While enjoying the advantages of a certain mobile phone, one can only passively accept the shortcomings of it and its peripheral devices. If the functions of a smartphone are dispersed by devices with eSIM functions and become several independent demand carriers, the user's choice will be greatly improved, and the overall experience will be much better, and it will not be affected by a single product ecosystem. Bundle".
Perhaps in the near future, more and more people will go out without their mobile phones, and they can travel lightly with brand A smart headphones, brand B smart watches, brand C smart glasses, and brand D smart bicycles.
In the next few decades, maybe the child sees an "old thing" that has no Internet function, and may ask a question like this: Is it broken?
Article cover image source: Electronic Fans Network
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