Convert a SIM Card to Micro SIM by Cutting with Scissors & a Nail File

Apr 26, 2012 - 20 Comments

Convert a SIM card to Micro SIM by cutting it

If you’ve opened the sim card tray on a newer iPhone, you’ve probably noticed the card is considerably smaller than an average sim, these tiny cards are known as a micro SIM. The smaller SIM format is gaining traction but there are still tons of cell providers and phones that use the regular sized SIM card, including T-Mobile, many prepaid plans. and pay-go plans that you’ll find both at home and abroad. Now, obviously that full sized sim isn’t going to fit into the micro tray, but guess what? You can cut it down to size and convert any standard SIM to a micro SIM.


I recently helped a friend through this process which took about 10 minutes, it’s somewhat tedious but considering the new ways to unlock any iPhone directly through AT&T or with the SAM method, it’s worth it if you need to use another carrier. If you don’t want to deal with the manual conversion process or you plan on doing this often, you can buy a Micro SIM Cutter & Converter package with 2 SIM adapters directly from Amazon to speed things up, it’s basically a $5 hole puncher that is fit for micro sims.

This is what you’ll need to perform the manual SIM to Micro SIM conversion:

  • Patience, and up to 15 minutes
  • Sharp scissors – for cutting the sim card
  • Sharp knife – for scoring where to cut on the sim card
  • Nail file – for sanding down tiny edges
  • Micro-SIM card – for comparing the original sim card to, makes the job much easier
  • Ruler – optional but makes your life easier if you don’t have a micro card to compare to

My toolkit looked like the picture below, and I ended up getting away with using only the scissors and a nail file to complete the entire process. A ruler and a pencil may be helpful for some too, but I’ve noticed many SIM cards have different sizes of plastic around different portions of the card, the only thing that is really consistent are the location of the metal contact points. Precise measurements are hard to provide because of that and it’s best to have a real micro sim card to compare to.

Tools to cut a SIM card down to micro SIM

There isn’t much to say in terms of instruction other than the obvious, cut the SIM down to micro SIM size. This is easy if you have a micro SIM to follow as a guide, but if you don’t and you’re just winging it the Solutios walkthrough found here is about as good as you’ll find online, but remember to emphasize the golden contacts.

  • Trim the plastic away from the SIM card to match the size found on a Micro SIM, preserving the metal region. With some old sim cards you may need to trim some of the side metal, just don’t go beyond the first inner black line on the metal contact.
  • The three metal contact points at the tip of the SIM card are the most important, seen below labeled as “1 2 3″, you want these to be in the same position on the converted SIM as they would be on a real micro SIM
  • File down remaining rough or tiny edges so that the converted SIM fits into the micro SIM slot, it’s better to have a tight fit than a loose fit
  • Pop the converted SIM into the iPhone 4, 4S, etc, and try it out

SIM card contact points during micro sim conversion

You will know within about 30 seconds whether the conversion worked or not because the iPhone will immediately start searching for the network and connect to it. If you are trying to use a cell providers card other than what your iPhone was intended for your iPhone needs to be unlocked, there is no exception to that rule.

Happy conversions, and enjoy your iPhone, iPad, Android, or whatever else you use.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, Tips & Tricks

20 Comments

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  1. Greg says:

    WOOOAA, I would NEVER ever do this free-style. There’s this website where you download this template (?)… it’S in german, but you get the picture once you’ve looked at it. I’ve used this a couple of times now and it’s as easy as 1,2,3. Much better than free handed!

    http://www.macnotes.de/images/micro-sim-schablone-macnotes.pdf

  2. Drew says:

    Have you done much research into which providers are best for an unlocked iPhone? I considered Red Envelope and Straight Talk, but I haven’t settled on one yet. I’m a little worried I’ll have my number ported over, and then the operation will fold. I know I could just port my number over to Google Voice and then use it that way, but things start getting complicated. Also, when you go to a different provider, don’t you lose visual voicemail?

    • Hans says:

      I’ve currently have SimpleMobile on my unlocked iPhone 4S, it only has Edge (Uses Tmobile network) but it’s cheap ($40 including taxes) for unlimited everything. This is good for those that are on wifi all day like myself. You can port over your number, but I ended up just going with Google Voice instead and it has worked out pretty good. I’ve had it this way for about 6 months now.

  3. Kevin says:

    I have an iPhone 4 (ATT locked yet) on Net10. The cost is $45 a month and everything works on my phone except MMS. I can live with that, I just email the pics. Phone, texting, email, apps are all great. Love the price.

  4. Bartek says:

    Warning! Warranty is void if self cut micro-sim card is found in the device. When I was replacing my faulty iPad at Genius bar in Apple store they checked if my device had genuine micro sim card or custom cut one. I was told that in case they found the custom cut my warranty would be void. I had a genuine one so no problem. Please be aware to take it out of the device before you send it to service.

    • icebreaker says:

      This is only true if you bought your iPhone with an original micro simcard. If the damage to your phone was caused by the self cut micro simcard then of course that breaches your warranty.

    • Dan says:

      Luckily that would be illegal in my country. They’d have to actually demonstrate the cut SIM damaged the device otherwise they’d be liable to honour the warranty.

      It’s also illegal to sell network locked phones, so changing networks is easy.

  5. Dah•veed says:

    I wouldn’t want to try that by hand, but I have cut two with the SIM cutter;
    http://www.amazon.com/Micro-SIM-Cutter-Converter-adapters/dp/B003UEWF8I

    $5 and it comes with two adapters if you need to use it as a full size SIM in the original device.

  6. ZAck says:

    Ages Knowledge..

  7. Brian Wilson says:

    I just wanted to say that T-mobile does offer micro sim cards, at least for their monthly prepaid plans. They may be available on request as well, I’m not exactly sure but I do know that the last time I tried to get a sim card for my iPhone 3G years ago they tried to give me a micro sim. They knew I was using an unlocked iPhone and just assumed it was a newer model.

    This is probably useful for a multitude of other carriers though as mentioned, or maybe those who can’t readily access a T-mobile store.

  8. [...] thing to remember is iPhone 5 uses an all new nano-SIM card, so it won’t be a matter of just cutting an existing sim and popping it in there to work on a different network. Because of the new nano-SIM [...]

  9. Darla says:

    Thank you sooo much for this!! Lol I’m actually proud to say that I can use my nail file for something other than my nails… and I actually used the nail clipper to cut the longer end from the side since its just one “snip”.

  10. Carressa says:

    I have Cincinnati Bell. They gave me a new micro sim at no charge. I just explained what I needed it for and turned in my old one.

  11. Gregory Mate says:

    One year left on my contract through Bell Mobility. Made the HUGE mistake of getting a Samsung Galaxy S2, this pos phone has been full of problems since four days after the warranty expired. Bought a Nexus 5, which uses a microsim. To copy the data from the sim to a micrsim, Bell wanted $10 for the card and $35 to activate it. I already pay a minimum of $95 a month with tax for voice, text, and 6 gb data. This month more due to long distance. If I get a new phone through Bell, they force me into a new contract, charging $50 more a month for what I have now (apparently we have moved back to 2003 when data rates were sky high). I go with another carrier, etf plus new contract and all carriers have the same ridiculous data rates, and Bell might not give me my old number which I have had for 11 years. Except for maybe Australia, Canada has the HIGHEST charges for a given level of service in the world. And greedy greedy Bell wants another $45 because I can’t last another year with this pos S2 (Samsung has forever lost all my business because they refused to fix my phone for a series of manufacturing defects — I know they make parts for other phones and tablets so I can’t get away from them entirely, but I am a complete hater toward them). So I ordered a cutter at the end of November through Amazon, hoping it will arrive before Xmas or I might just try to cut it myself. Maybe I can tell Bell that my phone was stolen and I got an unlocked phone and they would sell me a microsim. I will pay the $10 but the $35 extra is a slap in the face and just exposes how avaricious they are.

  12. Jeeva says:

    After cutting the sim to micro sim. Whether it will work or not? Please confirm anybody.

    • Land of Genius says:

      What do you think the purpose is of cutting the SIM to convert it into a Micro SIM if it does not work? Obviously it works.

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