How to replace your SIM Card with a Micro SIM or Nano SIM Card
October 14th, 2013
If you’re upgrading your smartphone, you may need to change your SIM card type. Newer devices typically use a Micro SIM card or in the case of Apple’s latest devices, a Nano SIM card.
If you’ve bought a smartphone in the past two years, there’s a good chance it uses a smaller version of the traditional SIM card. Before you’re able to use your new handset, you may need to change your SIM card type. This might involve switching to a Micro SIM card or a Nano SIM card.
Many of the latest smartphones now use a micro-sized SIM. Measuring 12mm x 15mm, Micro SIMs are approximately half the size of traditional SIM cards. Key devices that use Micro SIM include the Galaxy S4, the Galaxy S3, the HTC One, the iPhone 4S and all of Nokia’s Lumia devices. Before using one of these devices, you’ll first need to exchange your SIM card for a micro-sized SIM card.
If you’ve bought an iPhone 5, an iPhone 5s or an iPhone 5c, you’ll need to have an even smaller SIM card. Nano SIMs measure 8.8mm x 12.3mm and are required by Apple’s newest devices. Like with the Micro SIM, it’s possible to exchange your SIM card for a new nano-sized SIM that is designed to fit into your iPhone.
This article discusses how you can change your SIM card type. If you need to exchange your SIM card for a Micro SIM or Nano SIM, we’ll discuss how you can do this on the UK’s major mobile networks. We’ll also look at how to use older devices after changing your SIM card.
Which size SIM Card is required for my phone?
From 2012 onwards, most smartphones have moved to using Micro SIM cards. The following smartphones all use Micro SIM (although this isn’t a complete list):
- Apple: iPhone 4, iPhone 4S
- BlackBerry: Q5, Q10, Z10, Z30 (all BlackBerry 10 devices use Micro SIM)
- HTC: One, One S, One X
- LG: G2, Nexus 4
- Nokia: All Lumia-branded Smartphones
- Samsung: Galaxy S4, Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy S III, Galaxy Note II
- Sony: Xperia M, Xperia S, Xperia Z, Xperia Z1, Xperia Z Ultra
If you own an iPhone 5, an iPhone 5s or an iPhone 5c, you’ll need a Nano SIM rather than a Micro SIM.
Other Handsets (Select From Dropdown Menu)
If your smartphone isn’t listed above, select it from the following list to find out which type of SIM card you need:
For further details, see our full guide to the different SIM card types. This will explain the differences between Standard SIM, Micro SIM and Nano SIM.
Changing to Micro SIM or Nano SIM
If you’re purchasing an upgrade directly from your mobile network, they’ll normally send you a replacement SIM card along with your new phone. This SIM card should be the correct size to be used in your new phone. If you didn’t receive a replacement SIM card, contact your mobile network and ask for a replacement. Please note that upon activating your new Micro SIM or Nano SIM card, your old SIM card will cease to function. Before the transfer, make sure you copy over your text messages and phone numbers.
If you purchased your handset SIM-free or on a Pay As You Go basis (or if you were given a handset from friends or family), you’ll need to manually exchange your SIM card for a new one of the correct size. There are three ways for you to do this:
1. Out of Contract? Choose a “Micro SIM Only” or “Nano SIM Only” Tariff.
If you aren’t currently tied in to the minimum term of your contract (i.e. you’re more than 24 months into your Pay Monthly agreement), you can order a “Micro SIM Only” or a “Nano SIM Only” tariff. Along with the new tariff, you’ll get a brand new SIM card which is of the correct size to fit in your phone. You’ll also benefit from a reduced monthly cost – usually around £15/month or £20/month less than a standard contract.
In the UK, Three has some of the best value SIM only deals: £9.90/month will give you 600 minutes, 5000 texts and 1GB of internet (this is the Essential Internet 600 plan). This is available with a new Micro SIM or Nano SIM depending on your handset. Heavy data users could opt for The One Plan SIM: £15/month will give you 2000 minutes, 5000 texts, all-you-can-eat data and unlimited tethering. The tethering feature allows you to connect a tablet or laptop to the internet.
To order a “Micro SIM Only” or “Nano SIM Only” tariff, select the relevant SIM card type that corresponds to your network:
Micro & Nano SIM
Select size after choosing tariff. Micro SIM users should select the Combi-SIM option.
Micro & Nano SIM
Select size before choosing tariff (top of the page). Micro SIM users should select Combi.
Micro & Nano SIM
Select size before choosing tariff (third option at top of the page).
For a round-up of all the SIM Only tariffs available in the UK, see our full listing of the UK’s best value SIM only plans.
2. During Your Contact: Ask your mobile network to replace your SIM card.
If you’re currently in the middle of a contract, you can ask your mobile network to replace your SIM card. They can send you a replacement Micro SIM or a replacement Nano SIM:
Three can replace your existing SIM card with either a Micro SIM or a Nano SIM card. This can be done in one of Three’s retail stores. Normally, it costs £5 to replace your SIM card. However, inform the staff at Three that you’re changing SIM card type and they shouldn’t charge you for the replacement SIM.
O2 will replace your SIM card free of charge at any of their retail stores. You can change to a Micro SIM or Nano SIM depending on your handset.
Orange can replace your SIM card with a new Micro or Nano SIM card. There is no charge for this service. Either go into any EE-branded retail store or fill in a form on EE’s website. If you order your replacement SIM card through the EE website, it could take up to 48 hours for the replacement to be dispatched. Refer to the EE help page for further information.
T-Mobile charges £10.20 for a replacement Micro or Nano SIM. Done in an EE retail store, this should take less than one hour. Alternatively, order your SIM card online by filling in the form on EE’s website. £10.20 will be charged to your next month’s bill. Refer to the EE help page for more information.
Vodafone can replace your SIM card with a new Micro SIM or Nano SIM free of charge. It can take up to 15 minutes to do this at a Vodafone retail store (see the Vodafone Forums). Alternatively, contact Vodafone Customer Services and they should be able to send you a SIM through the post.
3. Alternative: Cut your SIM card down to size.
If you’re switching from Standard SIM to Micro SIM, the only difference between the two SIM card types is the amount of plastic that surrounds the metallic chip. For this reason, it’s possible to cut your SIM card down into Micro SIM dimensions. The easiest way to do this is by purchasing a specialist Micro SIM Cutter. These are available from Amazon for around £5.
Users who are slightly more daring can follow these DIY instructions to cut their own Micro SIM with a ruler and some scissors. Please note that cutting your own Micro SIM could damage it if performed incorrectly. A broken Micro SIM could also cause damage to your phone. If at all possible, we recommend ordering a replacement SIM card directly from your mobile network. This is free on the major mobile networks with the key exception of T-Mobile.
If you’re switching to a Nano SIM card, it’s not possible to cut a regulation Nano SIM. Nano SIMs are slightly thinner than Standard and Micro SIMs. Although you’re able to cut your SIM length-wise and width-wide, the final Nano SIM will end up being 90 microns too thick. Using an oversized SIM card could cause damage to your handset.
|SIM Type||Length (mm)||Width (mm)||Height (mm)|
The dimensions of a standard SIM card, micro SIM card and nano SIM card. For more information, see our comparison of different SIM card types.
Using a Micro SIM or Nano SIM in Older Handsets
After you’ve changed your SIM card type, it should normally still be possible to use an older handset. If you own a handset that requires a standard-sized SIM, a SIM card adapter will make it possible to use a Micro SIM or Nano SIM. Adapters can readily be purchased online – they’ll normally cost less than £5. Nano-to-Micro SIM adapters are also available.
Once you’ve received an adapter, do be careful. You shouldn’t insert the adapter into a phone unless there is a SIM card placed within it. An adapter inserted without a SIM card could cause damage to your phone when it is finally removed.
Finally, be warned that certain handsets such as the Nokia N8, BlackBerry Bold 9700, Sony Ericsson X10 and the Samsung Galaxy Note are not compatible with SIM card adapters. These devices contain a push-in SIM card slot with delicate and flexible metal pins that connect to your SIM card. Using an adapter in one of these devices can cause permanent damage to the SIM card slot. All About Symbian has a great report on the different types of SIM card slots and the damage that can be caused by using adapters in a push-in SIM card slot. Before using a SIM card adapter, check to see which type of SIM card slot is used on your phone. You can also check online to see whether your device is compatible with adapters.
Left: A damaged SIM card slot in the Samsung Galaxy Note due to the use of a Micro-SIM adapter. Right: Functioning SIM card slot on the Galaxy Note. (Thanks to Stace for photo)
Order a Replacement Micro or Nano SIM
There are two ways to get a replacement Micro SIM or Nano SIM.
The first way is to get a “Micro SIM Only” or “Nano SIM Only” contract: you can do this online and it should save you money at the same time as giving you a suitably-sized SIM card. Refer to the website of your mobile operator: Three, O2, Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone.
The second way of getting a replacement doesn’t involve changing your contract. You’ll need to visit your mobile network’s store: more information can be found here.
I'm a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005 with the aim of demystifying mobile technology for the rest of us.
Before writing about mobile technology, my background was in space & atmospheric physics. I have also worked in software development. Nowadays, I help companies to explain mobile technology to their customers. Please check out my portfolio or get in touch for more information. I'm also on Google+.