Quick definition: SIM form factors are the standardized sizes subscriber identity modules (SIMs) are manufactured in. There are five SIM form factors: 1FF, 2FF, 3FF, 4FF, and MFF2. Each generation of SIM is smaller than the last.
The SIM form factor you select is completely dependent on the size of your device and the amount of space you have to accommodate a SIM. For example, collar animal tracking collars may use a nano SIM (4FF), whereas larger devices such as GPS systems used in fleet management companies could accommodate a larger form factor.
It’s also possible to select industrial-grade SIMs in the form factors 2FF–4FF. These M2M SIMs are more durable than traditional SIMs, and they’re designed to meet the requirements of your M2M deployments. They come with a thicker pin plate to safeguard your device from corrosion, vibrations and other environmental factors, such as extreme temperature conditions. Typically, industrial-grade SIMs can withstand temperatures between -40°C and +105°C.
To accommodate one of the 2FF–4FF SIMs, you need to physically have a SIM portal incorporated into your device’s design, which can change the aesthetic. An alternate option to the 2FF–4FF SIMs is the MFF2 embedded SIM. This SIM has several benefits that directly address the issues of aesthetics and robustness as well as other provisioning capabilities.
Embedded SIMs (often referred to as eSIMs) are the most common choice for M2M applications because they come vacuum sealed and can be soldered directly onto your device’s circuit board. This increases reliability by reducing malfunction due to shocks, corrosion, and other environmental factors. Additionally, the lifecycle of an embedded SIM is up to 17 years—much longer than standard form factors. With an eSIM, the module will likely outlast the device.
Another critical benefit of embedded SIMs is physical security. Soldering the SIM directly onto your device’s circuit board makes it impossible for anyone tampering with your device to remove the SIM for misuse
An Embedded Universal Integrated Circuit Card (eUICC) is a component that can be installed on any SIM form factor. Since they’re embeddable, and consumer devices like smartphones will always install them on MFF2s, you’ll often hear eUICC and eSIM used as synonyms. But not every eSIM has an eUICC, and not every eUICC is installed on an eSIM.
The most effective way to ensure you make the best decisions for your business is to keep yourself informed about all the options available to you. To help you quickly identify the benefits and differences of each SIM form factor, we have included an assessment table below:
In terms of the best SIM for your cellular M2M connectivity solution, we have exemplified the advantages of an embedded SIM over a regular form factor (2FF–4FF). An embedded solution offers a longer lifecycle, better security, greater durability, and more flexibility for your device’s design.
Whatever form factor you decide is right for you, we can provide it for you. At EMnify we specialize in cellular M2M connectivity. If you have any questions about SIM form factors or the best connectivity solution for your business, our team is always happy to help and offer advice.
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