Your SIM Card 101

At PureTalk, we don’t expect you to be the expert on all things cell phone. That’s our job, but we do want you to be an educated consumer, so you can make informed decisions. Your SIM Card is a simple but important piece of your cell phone. Read on for a brief, but thorough SIM Card overview.

What is a SIM Card?

A SIM card is a tiny memory card that stores information. SIM stands for Subscriber Identity Module, or subscriber identification module. Each card has a unique code that designates its originating country, the system carrier, and a user ID. That unique code is tied to your cell phone account, and all phone usage is authenticated through your SIM card.

SIM cards were first introduced to the market in the early 1990s and have undergone many changes over the years. Once the size of a credit card, SIM cards are now very small. The one thing hasn’t changed: SIM cards make transferring information from one device to another much simpler. Insert the SIM card into your phone and most, if not all, of your old data is automatically transferred!

Today, there are three sizes of SIM cards in use: the Nano SIM, Micro SIM and Standard SIM. Each of the three models functions the same, but they are sized differently to fit into different phones.

GSM vs. CDMA: Is my phone compatible?

GSM and CDMA networks are two types of cellular phone networks. Each uses specific technology. PureTalk uses GSM technology. AT&T and T-Mobile also run-on GSM technology, so if your phone is set up to run on either of those networks, it will be compatible with PureTalk.

If your phone is set up to run on Verizon or Sprint, it uses CDMA technology and will not be compatible with PureTalk.


Some phones are now compatible with eSIMs. eSIMs function just like a SIM card, but it comes embedded in your device. eSIMs make it incredibly easy to switch your service to PureTalk! Because it is a newer technology, not all phones are compatible with an eSIM.

There are many advantages of using an eSIM:

  • eSIMs can be instantly activated, making it easy to switch carriers. With PureTalk, you can activate your eSIM immediately after checkout. That means no waiting for your new service to begin!
  • eSIMs can be used in conjunction with a physical SIM card, which allows you to have multiple phone numbers! If you’re a business owner that wants a personal line and a business line, this is the perfect solution for you. It’s also beneficial when traveling abroad. eSIM users can simply purchase a physical SIM card while traveling.

There are also a couple of things to consider when deciding whether an eSIM card is for you.

  • Because eSIMs are a newer technology, not all phones are compatible. Find out if your phone is eSIM compatible.
  • If your phone is irreparably damaged, you won’t be able to swap an eSIM from your damaged phone to a new phone.

How do I get a SIM Card?

Whether you choose to purchase a phone from PureTalk or bring your own device, you’ll need a SIM card that’s compatible with our service. Getting your PureTalk Sim Card is simple, but if you want to immediately activate your new phone line, an eSIM might be a better option for you.

If you opt for the SIM card in lieu of an eSIM, we will ship it to you via FedEx 2-Day. When your SIM card arrives, you can activate it on our website.

If you choose eSIM, you can activate it immediately after you place your order.

How do I insert the SIM Card into my phone?

Every phone is different but inserting the SIM card is a simple process. Below is instruction for inserting a new SIM card into iPhones and Android smartphones.

iPhones & Newer Android Phones

The first step is to power off your phone and find the SIM tray, which can most easily be identified by the small hole which allows you to slide the tray out of the phone.

The next step is to remove the tray. To do so, you’ll insert a SIM removal tool (a paperclip or pushpin works!) into the hole. Carefully pull the SIM card tray out of the phone. Keep in mind that they are delicate and integral to the function of your phone. Also take note of how the SIM card fits into your device, as it will make it easier when you replace it later.

Once removed, you’ll replace the existing SIM card with your new SIM card. The logo or gold chip will face up. The SIM card tray will have a small notch, and your SIM card will only fit one way. Newer devices may have more than one slot. The smaller slot is for a Nano SIM and the larger is for a Micro SD card, which expands data storage. Some may have three slots: two for SIM cards, which allows the user to have multiple phone numbers, and one for a Micro SD card. Most users will only need one SIM card, so insert your card into the SIM 1 slot.

Once the SIM card is in the tray, you’ll push the SIM tray back into the phone. The tray only fits one way, and it should slide in easily. Never force the tray back into the phone. Once the tray is returned to the phone, you can power back up!

Older Android Phones

On older Android Phones, the first step is the same: power your phone off. Then, you’ll need to remove the back cover and battery from your phone.

After the battery has been removed, you’ll locate the SIM card slot. There may be more than one. If so, use the SIM 1 slot.

If you have an existing SIM card, remove it gently with your fingertip. Slide your new SIM card into the slot with the logo or gold chip facing up. The SIM card slot will have a small notch, and the SIM card will only fit one way.

Once complete, replace the battery and back cover. Then you can power back on.

That’s a wrap.

Your SIM Card is a small but mighty piece of cell phone technology. Knowing what it does and how to use it makes switching to PureTalk a breeze.


Cell Phones Technology

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