The iPhone 5 is a wildly popular smartphone that is available on several carriers. However, many would-be iPhone 5 users prefer the freedom of an unlocked iPhone 5 instead. Unfortunately, unlocking the iPhone 5 is only one step in the process of using it on some mobile carriers because, unlike previous generations, the iPhone 5 requires a nano-SIM card to operate. Therefore, industrious users must trim their carrier's SIM card down to a nano size to use it on that network. This precise process requires several steps.
Why the iPhone 5 needs a nano-SIM card
The purpose of any mobile phone's subscriber identification module, or SIM card is to store its international mobile subscriber identity, or SIMI, securely as well as authenticate the data on a particular mobile network. The SIM card allows users to connect to a cellular network and for the network to identify them as paying subscribers.
As mobile phones, smartphones, and tablets reduced in size, so did their SIM cards. The thinner profile of the iPhone 5 compared with the iPhone 4 is what necessitated the switch from micro-SIM to nano-SIM size. Carriers who do not offer the iPhone 5 as part of a regular service contract but who allow users to connect unlocked phones might not manufacture nano-SIM cards, so users must trim the cards themselves.
How to trim a SIM card to nano-SIM size in four steps
The nano-SIM card is approximately 12 per cent smaller than the micro-SIM card, measuring 12.3 mm by 8.8 mm by 0.67 mm. Although it is significantly smaller than the micro-SIM card and the standard SIM card, the actual circuit or working parts of the nano-SIM card are identical to its big brothers. The added area is all plastic and metal casing. Therefore, the steps needed to trim a nano-SIM card concentrate solely on removing this casing.
Preparing to trim a SIM card
Although Apple warns that trimming your own nano-SIM card may prevent the iPhone from connecting to a network, and though an actual nano-SIM is 0.09 mm thinner than any other SIM card, reviewers at both CNET and MacWorld have reported successful trimming projects and no issues inserting the thicker SIM card into an iPhone 5. All you need is the iPhone 5, scissors, a nail file, and a steady hand.
Measure the SIM card
If you have access to a nano-SIM card, either inside the iPhone 5 or from someone else's phone, use it as a guideline on where to cut; this is the best way to get an accurately sized nano-SIM card. Otherwise, use a bit of detective work and close observation to note where the chip lies within its metal frame. Some SIM cards have guidelines etched into the metal. If not, note that the chip generally sits at the end of the metal casing opposite the angled corner.
Cut the SIM card
Once the guidelines are determined, commence cutting the SIM card. Moving very carefully, deliberately, and slowly in this process is crucial for success. Begin at the top and sides, the areas away from the SIM's chip, and then tackle the bottom bit where the chip lies. MacWorld suggests using the file to trim the last bottom bit instead of using a scissors. Also, note that small, straight, sharp scissors, like nail scissors, are easier to wield in the sort of precise manner necessary for this job.
Placing the SIM card in the iPhone 5
Leaving a bit of space on either side is the best option because it is possible to take away a little bit more of the sides, bit by bit, than to initially trim the card too small. Even if the chip remains intact, a too-small SIM card wiggles around within the iPhone 5, preventing it from maintaining a consistent network connection. Therefore, measure the trimmed card against the slot of the iPhone 5, and then use the file to gently shave away excess material until you achieve a precise fit.
How to buy a SIM card and iPhone 5 on eBay
When you want to update to an iPhone 5, buying an unlocked model along with the necessary SIM card is easy with the sellers on eBay. To find the item you want, simply start on any page of the site, and type that item into the main search bar. The eBay server allows you to narrow down your options from there according to the specific criteria, such as price, memory size, or the location of the item.