iPhone 5 nano-SIM hack: GiffGaff recommends running with scissors

iPhone 5 nano-SIM hack: GiffGaff recommends running with scissors

Summary: The operator, which does not offer proper nano-SIMs just yet, has suggested that customers can simply trim down older SIM cards for use in the iPhone 5. This suggests the method does work for that device, but that may not be the case for future nano-SIM phones as the new card is thinner than its predecessors.


The mobile virtual network operator GiffGaff has recommended that customers with iPhone 5s cut their SIM cards down to nano-SIM size using scissors.

Apple nano-SIM card cutting with scissors
Image: GiffGaff

GiffGaff demonstrated how to perform the SIM surgery in a blog post on Friday, suggesting that it was a viable way to use a GiffGaff SIM or micro-SIM with Apple's new handset. GiffGaff has not yet brought out a nano-SIM — the iPhone 5 is the first handset to use the format, which was standardised in June.

The ETSI standards body decided to go with Apple's nano-SIM design proposal, rejecting alternatives proposed by RIM and Nokia.

"If you're going to try this one at home for your iPhone 5, cut carefully," GiffGaff commerce chief Kim Faura said in a statement. "Cutting too close could damage your SIM, or make it smaller than it needs to be so it won't make good contact in the phone — it's better to have a snug fit than a loose one."

Faura added that, if a GiffGaff customer does damage their SIM through the alterations, they can order a replacement for free.

GiffGaff's advice seems to suggest that a clipped SIM or micro-SIM can work in the iPhone 5. This has been a much-debated question, as proper nano-SIMs are 12 percent thinner than their predecessors.

"We found… the iPhone 5 doesn't seem to care about this restriction — a full-thickness SIM will fit in just fine without any sanding," the operator's blog post read.

Much of that will be down to Apple's nano-SIM tray design, though, and it is quite possible that un-sanded cards would not fit into other devices that go on to use the standard.

Topics: Apple, iPhone, Mobility, Smartphones

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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  • They have to be kidding...

    Cut a SIM card down with scissors? Seriously? I'm getting much too old for this business... I think your running with scissors analogy is a perfect fit. And to even consider "sanding", if the 14% difference in thickness is too much... the thought of that is like "sanding" my last nerve...

  • nano sims

    Micro sim cards are already small an fiddly to handle so really cannot understand why the industry needed nano sims - except to provide another cross range incompatability. I have already lost the ability to switch a single sims between different devices easily.

    Still perhaps if someone develops a nano sd card Apple could start using them in their phones to save paying them about £100 for £20 worth of memory!
  • also what editor decided this was something worth posting

    giff gaff are a low cost solution and have already said there will be nano sims soon - why would an apple user be looking for a low cost solution!!
    • why not?

      Everybody wants value for money, although (obviously) not everyone realises it or can be bothered to work it out and so rely on operators to give you the best tariff option available.

      It's just that the tariff options offered by the operators don't reflect our best interests, the best of what they offer isn't the best that they can offer - just what they are willing to because too people many can't be bothered.
  • It wont be long

    before all sims are nanos and come with an adaptor like Transflash does. Its only a plastic carrier to hold the chip which has always been that size, same as a digital TV card, or the key for an electricity meter. Same thing, the chip is embedded in a plastic carrier usually with epoxy resin which is why care is needed to trim them without cracking it.

    I'd also not be surprised if there are 3D printer downloads for them soon, if not already, and I hate to say this but Apples idea trumps whatever Rim and Nokia might have come up with by being backwardly compatible as well.