What just happened? Qualcomm announced that its latest mobile platform is ready to integrate eSIM functionality directly into the SoC silicon. The embedded SIM (or iSIM) form factor is very attractive to device makers, the company said, as a cost-cutting enhancement for smartphones and other connected devices.
The classic SIM-based standard is slowly being replaced by newer eSIM technology, but mobile device manufacturers and SoC designers are already working to go further. Qualcomm’s recently announced Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 mobile platform is the first GSMA-certified iSIM-enabled device and the world’s first “commercially deployable” SoC device with iSIM functionality built directly into the chip.
iSIM is another step, and probably the last, in the evolution of connectivity technology for mobile users and devices. eSIM (embedded SIM) was designed to replace the small plastic card (and the integrated circuit inside) required for user identification by mobile service providers with a chip soldered onto the phone’s motherboard.
With iSIM technology, the aforementioned chip is not needed as the SoC platform directly handles connectivity identification tasks. Qualcomm reflexes how the new iSIM technology gives device manufacturers “additional opportunities to save space and reduce construction and supply chain costs,” while maintaining the same world-class level of security.
The San Diego-based chip designer worked with French multinational Thales Group to make its iSIM solution fully compliant with the GSMA’s remote SIM provisioning standard. Therefore, mobile phone operators should be able to manage iSIM subscriptions in the same way that they currently manage eSIM users.
The iSIM market is expected to grow to 300 million devices by 2027, Qualcomm said, with a 19 percent market share of all eSIM device shipments by then. While the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC brings built-in support for iSIM, most phone manufacturers still use discrete eSIM chips in their designs.
According to Guillaume Lafaix, Vice President of Embedded Products at Thales Mobile, the world’s first GSMA security certification for the company’s 5G iSIM gives device manufacturers and mobile operators even greater freedom to offer users “wireless connectivity effortless”.
iSIM technology increases the opportunity to “proliferate cellular capacity” in mobile and other connected devices, said Alex Sinclair, GSMA’s chief technology officer. Meanwhile, end users and customers will no longer have control over connection portability.