Nokia N-Gage card (2003 – 2006)

The Nokia N-Gage was a combined phone and handheld game console, launched in 2003.

To compete with Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance, Nokia included a phone in the N-Gage. Unfortunately, this meant the buttons were not suited to gaming, and the phone’s speaker and microphone were built into the side of the device meaning users had to hold the device at right angles to their head, leading to the nickname of the ‘Taco phone’ (due to its shape). Some of its core features were impressive for its time, like Bluetooth connectivity and an on-board MP3 and video player.

Games for the N-Gage were distributed on MultiMediaCards, but to put the card into the device meant removing the back of the N-Gage along with the battery. A re-design in 2004 as the N-Gage QD moved the card slot to the outside of the device, but sales continued to be poor and only around 3 million were sold over its lifetime. Over 50 games were made available for the N-Gage range, but there were no ‘must-have’ titles (there were some big titles such as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Call of Duty, and Pandemonium, but these were also available on other consoles).

Games continued to be released until 2006, but the device had already been withdrawn from Western markets in 2005 by which time the Sony PlayStation Portable and the Nintendo DS were on the market.

The N-Gage name lived on until 2010 as the name of a platform for online distribution of games to later Nokia smartphones.

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microSD audio (2007 – late 2000s)

In the late 2000s a handful of music albums were released on microSD, for use in devices such as mobile phones. Most albums on microSD were released under the Gruvi and later slotMusic brands by Sandisk, but some were released on generic microSD cards.

One of the first of these was the 2007 re-released version of Exodus by Bob Marley and the Wailers, that was also released on USB flash drive at the same time.

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Memory Stick Duo (2002 – )

The Memory Stick Duo was introduced in 2002 by Sony to meet the need for smaller memory cards for pocket digital cameras, mobile phones and the PlayStation Portable.

It is slightly smaller than Secure Digital and roughly two thirds the length of a standard Memory Stick. An adapter allows Memory Stick Duo to be used in devices designed to accept Memory Stick.

The Memory Stick PRO Duo replaced the Memory Stick Duo due to its 128 MB size limitation, but has kept the same form factor as the Duo.

The Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo, released in 2006, achieves three times the speed of the PRO.

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Reduced-Size MultiMedia Card (RS-MMC) / MMCmobile (2004 – 2006)

The Reduced-Size MultiMedia Card (RS-MMC) was a smaller variant of MultiMedia Card, introduced in 2004 and used almost exclusively in mobile phones.

It was around half the size of an MMC card, but with an adaptor could be used in an MMC slot.

MMCmobile was a later variant of RS-MMC introduced in 2005, the main difference being that MMCmobile was dual-voltage, and could operate in later mobile phones with a low-voltage (1.8V) slot, as well as older phones using 3V.

Nokia and Siemens were the only manufacturers to make use of RS-MMC/MMCmobile, and by 2006 had Nokia had switched to miniSD or microSD while Siemens exited the mobile phone business.

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microSD (2005 – )

microSD (also called TransFlash) is a smaller variant of Secure Digital (SD), created by SanDisk and introduced in 2005.

SanDisk introduced microSD as current memory cards were too large for newer mobile phones.

Initially, microSD cards were available in capacities of 32, 64, and 128 MB, but the original microSD standard allowed for up to 2 GB of storage. microSDHC (introduced in 2006) allows for between 4 and 32 GB, and microSDXC (introduced in 2009) allows for up to 2 TB. As of May 2014, that largest commonly available microSDXC cards are 64 GB.

microSD cards will work in devices that require SD or miniSD cards by use of an adaptor.

microSD has also been used as a format to distribute music, most notably in the form of Gruvi and subsequently slotMusic by Sandisk, and also on generic microSD cards.

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Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) nano-size (2012 – )

Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) nano-size (4FF) was introduced in 2012, and reduces the previous micro-SIM to just the contact area, with a small rim of isolating material to avoid short circuits within the socket.

Although slightly thinner than previous SIM formats, it retains the same contact arrangements and can be used in devices using mini- or micro-SIMs with an adaptor.

The iPhone 5 was the first smartphone to use a nano-SIM card.

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Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) micro-size (2010 – )

Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) micro-size (3FF) standards were agreed in 2003 as a smaller version of the mini-SIM.

However, its first used was in the Apple iPad, and subsequently in the iPhone 4 in 2010 followed by other phone manufacturers.

The micro-SIM has same thickness and contact arrangements as full-size and mini-SIM, but the length and width are further reduced. As with the mini-SIM, micro-SIMs are normally packaged in a credit card size holder, with pop-outs for mini and micro sizes.

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Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) mini-size (1996 – )

Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) mini-size (2FF) was introduced around 1996 as a smaller version of the full-size SIM, which was too large for newer, smaller phones.

The mini-SIM card has the same contact arrangement as the full-size SIM card and is normally supplied within a full-size card carrier that it can be popped out of, allowing it to be used in phones that use either size SIM.

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Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) full-size (1991 – 2000s)

SIM card comparison A subscriber identity module (SIM) card is an integrated circuit used to identify and authenticate mobile phone users. The SIM was initially specified by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute in 1991, for use on GSM phones.

The circuit is embedded into a plastic card, and can be transferred between different mobile devices. SIM cards can come in various data capacities, from 32 KB to at least 128 KB. Most SIM cards will store a number of SMS messages and phone book contacts. The number of contacts and messages stored depends on the SIM; early models would store as few as five messages and 20 contacts while modern SIM cards can usually store over 250 contacts.

The first SIM cards were the size of a credit card and are referred to as full-size (1FF). These were replaced by the mini-SIM and subsequent smaller variants. Later sizes of SIM, even though physically smaller are often packaged in a credit card size holder from which they can be popped out of. All SIMs share the same arrangement of contacts.

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