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Qualcomm Integrates eSIM Functionality Directly In CPU

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3

The current top SoC in devices like the Galaxy S23 has a feature that has only just been made official. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is the first smartphone processor to come with support for iSIM, in which the data from a SIM card is stored directly in the SoC and not on a separate chip or SIM card.

As the French manufacturer Thales and Qualcomm announced at the Mobile World Congress 2023, the industry association GSMA has now cleared the way for the first official implementation of the new iSIM technology. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 already has iSIM integrated, but the functionality is not yet activated ex works in all devices equipped with the chip.

eSIM without an extra chip

iSIM should basically offer the same advantages as an eSIM but without the small additional chip on the mainboard of a smartphone that was previously required for the latter. Instead, the data from the “Integrated SIM” is stored directly in the system-on-chip, i.e. the processor of the respective device. According to Thales, this should save space on the motherboard as well as the costs for the eSIM chip.

With smartphones with iSIM, the previously common SIM slots can now also be dispensed with. Thales and Qualcomm also claim that the elimination of the eSIM chip also saves energy, which should also make the iSIM technology particularly useful for use in the “Internet of Things” area. The functionality should be very similar to that of an eSIM solution.

On the one hand, the iSIM stores the data with which the device registers in the mobile network, but on the other hand, it should also be possible to change it flexibly, for example, if the user is abroad and wants to use a different network operator. The prerequisite for this, however, is that iSIM is also actually supported by the respective mobile phone provider abroad.

It is still unclear when the first smartphones with iSIM support will come onto the market. However, Qualcomm assumes that hundreds of millions of devices will be equipped with it within the next few years. No manufacturer is yet actively offering the function so current top smartphones such as the Galaxy S23 series also have to do without the new feature.