Maximize Your Smartphone When Overseas: How to Choose the Right SIM Card


Your smartphone is a highly advanced piece of technology. However, to take its high-tech brilliance to the next level, you still need to insert a SIM card to make calls, send texts, and use mobile data.

A SIM card is a fingernail-sized piece of plastic that holds a microchip which contains your account information. SIM stands for Subscriber Identity Module, which means the SIM card stores the service key of the subscriber to identify themselves in the network.

If you are getting your phone directly from a network, chances are, they will provide the correct SIM card right away. But if you bought a SIM-free smartphone from a retailer, you must make sure that you pick up the right prepaid SIM card for your needs.

Here is your guide to the different types of SIM cards and how to choose the right one that fits your phone as well as the nature of your usage.

Choosing the Right SIM

Choosing the Right SIM
With plenty of options in the market, it can be overwhelming to choose only one SIM. Here’s what you need to do.

First, you’ll need to establish which countries you’ll be visiting so you can pick the best prepaid package. The idea is to select a SIM card that offers an appealing zone package; this way, you can get the services you need like unlimited data even when you’re outside your home country.

Apart from the coverage, you also need to consider the rates and expiration date of the SIM card. These are crucial details you should be aware of as they all depend on the network provider you choose.

Which SIM to buy?

Which SIM to buy
If your device comes with a box and a set of instructions, you’ll see there which SIM card you should use. Some phones even have the type of SIM card suitable to the device written on the slot.

If you are uncertain about which SIM to buy, a quick search on the internet for the model of your device will help you identify the SIM card you need. The manufacturer’s website is also a good place to look.

Will your phone number change with a new SIM card?

You should know that when you get a new SIM card, you will also get a new number. This can be a problem if you have to keep your number for personal or work reasons. But if you have a smartphone with a dual SIM feature, then you’re going to be fine.

Dual SIM phones allow the user to have two SIM cards at a time, which means, you can use two different phone lines. This will help you keep your current number while you use another prepaid SIM for your travels abroad.

Types of SIM Cards

Types of SIM Cards
There are many types of SIM cards used today. The common ones are:

1. Standard SIM

This is the oldest kind of SIM used in all handsets before the year 2010. Compared to the other SIM types, this is the largest, measuring 25 by 15 millimeters. These days, it may be rare to find a Standard SIM card slot in new smartphones as it is more commonly found on basic feature phones.

2. Micro SIM

The only difference between a Standard SIM and the Micro SIM is the size of the plastic around the microchip. The development of the Micro SIM was part of the perpetual quest to make smartphones lighter and slimmer. Measuring about 15 by 12 millimeters and introduced in 2010, Micro SIMs are still very much present in new handsets.

3. Nano SIM

Introduced in the year 2012, many newer smartphones use the Nano SIM. Measuring 12.3 by 8.8 millimeters, most new devices from large cell phone companies like Samsung feature a slot for this card.

4. Combi SIM

A Combi SIM bears a Micro SIM within a Standard SIM unit. If you need a smaller-sized SIM card, all you have to do is break away the extra plastic around the Micro SIM. This type of SIM allows the network to cater to different phone users with one card. Most of the SIM cards you get from convenience stores sell this format as many users find them useful.

Bring Along a Reliable SIM Card

Bring Along a Reliable SIM Card
The next time you travel abroad, make sure your SIM works as well as it does when you’re at home. Although you can easily switch your SIM card anytime, picking the right one for your needs in advance ensures that you always stay connected with your loved ones while overseas.


Al-moottil P Antony is a C-Suite Executive Support Professional for Zain, a leading mobile and data services operator with a commercial footprint in 8 Middle Eastern and African countries.