What’s so special about a 5G SIM?

5G is here. It’s been here for about a year, just waiting for you to leave the house. And the 5G phones are great. No matter what you’re looking for, 5G can bring it to you faster. But, with every new technology, there are bound to be some changes. This time around, the SIM card changes a little bit. Not much, just a little bit.

A little bit of perspective

The SIM card is a sliver of plastic with an extremely small bit of flash memory on it. It’s the key to a lot of today’s modern telecommunications system. SIM cards have been used for decades to identify subscribers.

In most countries, the SIM card is a very important part of the cellular system. You can buy a new SIM card for your existing phone and have a different number or cell plan. You can move your SIM from phone to phone, and people do. Here in the US, it’s really not possible to move a SIM card from carrier to carrier. Every carrier uses different technologies, although that’s changing slowly.

Today we don’t think much about SIM cards, except when we switch phones. Even then, the card is usually included in the phone when we get it. Or, as many phones now do it, there’s an e-SIM. That means there’s no physical piece of plastic inside the phone. The same information is there but it’s stored in a much tinier piece of silicon.

Why you care about a “5G SIM”

Most people won’t have to ever worry about a SIM again. Even in a time like the one we live in, people can get new phones sent to them ready to activate.  You could go your whole life without worrying about it.

Unless you’re a techie, like the people who read this blog.

There are plenty of folks who change out phones every few months. It’s not just tech journalists like me. A lot of people want to have the latest phone and they trade phones every few months. How do they do it? By keeping the phone in like-new condition, they’re able to sell it for cash, financing the next phone with the proceeds. It’s a little more expensive than just keeping a phone for four years, but it’s a choice.

For the folks who like to switch up phones like the rest of us switch up underpants, popping the SIM from one phone to another is a way of life. It’s easy, takes no tools (other than a paperclip) and in most cases you don’t even have to tell the carrier.

But, if you’re going from an older phone to a 5G phone, you’ll need a new SIM. AT&T or Signal Connect will send you one, and it looks like the one in the picture above. You’ll need to call to get it activated, too.

But why! Why! WHY!

It’s not like popping in a new card and telling the people at AT&T that you did it is the worst thing in the world. It’s just part of what you do. There’s nothing incredibly special about a 5G SIM, either. It’s just a string of numbers that have already been registered in AT&T’s computers.

So, here’s the dirty little secret. Technically you could keep your current SIM forever. At least, until they change the shape of them again (like they have done several times in the past.) There’s absolutely nothing special about the SIM that makes it a 5G SIM.  But, there’s no way for your average person at AT&T to change the way a SIM card is registered in their system. It’s so much easier to just issue you a new one that they know will work in their current system.

Bottom line, it’s one of life’s little annoyances. But it’s such a minor annoyance, don’t you think?

Oh by the way, if you want the best cellular products and accessories without the annoyance, shop Solid Signal. For changes to your service, for new phones, or the latest specials, call us at 866-726-4182. Or just fill out the form below!

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.