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How to take SIM card out of iPhone

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The SIM card in your iPhone is crucial to your making calls, but it's also small enough to lose, and easy enough to put in the wrong way. Here's how to successfully remove a SIM card, and put one back.

At least when SIM cards first came out, they were embedded in plastic that was credit card-sized and hard to lose. As the subscriber identity module became more common, and as phones needed have more components packed inside, the circuitry part stayed roughly the same, but the enclosing plastic shrunk to almost nothing.

So now when you have a SIM card in your hand, it's so small that you could really have it on your fingertip. And that would mean that removing it from your iPhone, or fitting another one, is fiddly enough.

But then there is also the fact that these SIM cards have to go in the right way around, and the right way up. Maybe if you had to do this a lot, you would learn which way was which, but most people rarely change them.

With one exception, SIM cards are fitted in a tray that slides in and out of your iPhone. There are differences over where these trays are. And the exception is that there are now eSIM cards, virtual ones that need no fitting.

How to find your SIM card tray

The SIM tray is on the left side of your iPhone, as you face the screen, if you have any of these models.

  • iPhone 12
  • iPhone 12 mini
  • iPhone 12 Pro
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max

It's likely that the next iPhone will also have it on the left, but that isn't known yet.

Most older iPhones, from the iPhone 4 to the iPhone 11 Pro Max, have the SIM tray on the right. Whereas the original iPhone, iPhone 3G, and iPhone 3GS all have the tray on the top.

Regardless of its position, the way you remove the SIM card is exactly the same on all iPhones. And so is the need to remember which way was facing up when you took it out.

SIM cards do have one corner cut off so that you know which way around to fit it into the tray. However, it's still possible to put it in with the wrong side facing up.

How to take SIM card out of iPhone

  1. Turn the iPhone off
  2. Find the SIM tray
  3. Look for the small hole next to it
  4. Insert either a SIM eject tool, or the end of a paper clip, into the hole
  5. Press firmly until the tray pops out partway
  6. Pull on the tray to remove it completely

You may have a SIM eject tool if you have bought a new SIM. A partially straightened paperclip is as straightforward to use.

It is possible to remove the SIM card without turning the phone off. However, manufacturers, including Apple, warn of a possibility that static electricity could damage the card or the device itself.

L-R: insert a paperclip into the tray hole, press firmly, then pull the tray out
L-R: insert a paperclip into the tray hole, press firmly, then pull the tray out

How to re-insert the SIM card into an iPhone

In theory, you just reverse the steps for removing the SIM card. In practice, you need to take a little care because the card is so small and easily lost.

Place the new SIM card into the tray, being careful to have it the same way up and the same way around as the one you removed. Then press on the tray, pushing it into the phone.

Make sure that you press firmly. The tray is not correctly inserted, and the SIM card will not work, unless the outside of the tray is flush with the body of the iPhone.

You don't need a paperclip for this, the action of pressing the tray back in secures it.

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