How to Find the SIM Card in Your Cell Phone

Views 1 Like Comments Comment
Like if this guide is helpful
How to Find the SIM Card in Your Cell Phone

A SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card is a small electronic data card used in GSM standard cell phones. GSM, or Global System for Mobile Communications, refers to the international standard used by the majority of cell phone providers outside of the United States. Most American cell phones work with the CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) system and do not need SIM cards. However, with the increasing popularity of globally available smartphones, more U.S. providers are offering GSM packages and availability. While CDMA handsets cannot be used on a GSM network and vice versa, some newer smartphones are designed to be compatible with both systems. Whether you decide to purchase a SIM card and handset from a dealer or an online auction site like eBay, consulting a reputable buyer's guide will give you a clear indication of the best cell phone or smartphone for you.

sell your phone

Does Your Phone Have a SIM Card?

If you have a GSM cell phone, it will have a SIM card, as these handsets do not work without one. If you do not know whether you have a GSM handset or not, use your service provider details as a guide.

Cell phone providers on the CDMA system include:

  • Verizon
  •  Alltel
  • Sprint
  • Cricket
  • Nextel

Phones from these providers are usually network locked. This means that the handset can be used only on the original provider's network and, unless they are GSM compatible, they cannot be unlocked and do not have SIM cards.

Cell phone providers on the GSM network include:

  • T-Mobile
  • AT&T
  • Cingular
  • Rogers Wireless

Some of these handsets are network locked, but they can usually be unlocked for a fee, depending on the phone's make and model. Unlocked handsets work with any SIM card and can be used worldwide. Additionally, some phones accept smaller SIM cards than others, so it is important to find out what size card your phone takes.

The Benefits of Using a SIM Card

A SIM card allows you to switch between phones easily, without losing information like contact numbers and addresses, or text messages received. The card stores your user setup information, including your preferences and service features. Additionally, a SIM card allows you to keep data safe with an added layer of security offered by the PIN lock feature. A SIM card that is PIN protected can be removed from your cell phone but cannot be used unless the code is entered when it is inserted in another phone. This means that only you have access to the information stored on the card, and the card cannot be used by someone else to make calls if your phone is lost or stolen.

Where to Find the SIM Card in Your Cell Phone

In most GSM cell phones, the SIM card is located under the battery, near the electronic circuit board. This part of the handset can be accessed by removing the back cover and unclipping or sliding out the battery. However, the exact location differs between makes and models, and it is always best to consult the user manual for more precise instructions. If you do not have the manual to hand, you should be able to find it by visiting the manufacturer's website. Additional information about SIM location and use may be found on most service providers' sites. The table below gives a general indication of where the SIM is commonly located in some popular brands of cell phones.

Cell Phone Brand

Location of SIM

Special Instructions


Under the battery well.

Not all BlackBerry handsets are GSM compatible. These handsets also have a slot for a memory card, which is easily confused with the SIM slot.


In the SIM card tray on the side or top of the device. To access the SIM tray, push the tool provided or a straightened paper clip into the small hole next to the tray. This will cause the tray to eject.

iPhone SIM cards are smaller than most other cards.


Under the battery well.

LG offers dual SIM models, and handsets may be able to accept more than one SIM card.


The SIM can be found under the back cover in some models and under the battery in others.

Some Samsung cell phones offer dual SIM card capabilities and may feature more than one SIM slot.


Under the battery well.

Some HTC handsets feature separate covers for the battery and the SIM and memory cards.


Motorola SIM slots vary according to the model. Some slots are situated on the side, while others are under a flap under the back cover.

Certain Motorola handset models have non-removable batteries. Do not attempt to remove the battery in these models. Additionally, some models are dual SIM enabled and may have more than one SIM slot.


Under the battery well or under the cover of the micro-USB connector.

Some Nokia phones feature dual SIM capabilities and may have more than one SIM slot.

Sony Ericsson

Under the battery well.



Under the battery well, under the back cover, or in the side SIM card slot.



SIM tray on top of the handset, SIM door on the bottom rear of the handset, or under the battery.


As can be seen from the above information, some models from the same manufacturer feature different SIM locations and trays. If you are unsure of the location of the SIM in your phone, it is best to do further research or contact the manufacturer to avoid damage to your handset.

How to Insert or Remove Your SIM Card

While cell phone handsets differ in the exact location and seating of SIM cards, most systems are similar in design. If the phone has a removable SIM tray on the side, the SIM card can be removed or inserted by simply opening the tray. It is important to note that you should always switch off your phone before removing or inserting a SIM card. You should also take note of instructions that show which side of the card is ‘up.'

To insert or remove a SIM card that is located in a phone's battery well:

  1. Turn off the phone. Removing the battery while the phone is switched on could lead to data loss or electronic damage.
  2. Carefully remove the back cover by following any visible instructions, looking out for buttons or sliding mechanisms.
  3. Remove the battery. Some are ejected by pushing one or two buttons, some slide out, and some are removed by simply turning the phone upside down.
  4. Look for the SIM card or empty SIM card slot. Some cards slide in, while others are housed in holders that flip open.
  5. If inserting a card, make sure the card is facing the right way up and the card is inserted according to its shape. Most cards feature a      cutout on one corner, making it easy to see the right direction. Make sure the holder clicks back into place and the card is in the correct position.
  6. Replace the battery with the contacts facing the corresponding area in the handset.
  7. Replace the back cover securely, allowing it to click into place, before turning the phone back on.

If the phone's manual is available, it is always best to follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Common SIM Card Error Messages

Once you have inserted your SIM, you may see one of the following error messages displayed on the phone's screen:

Error Message


Insert SIM

Go back and make sure the SIM is inserted correctly. Next, make sure the SIM is not damaged. Check if the problem is with the phone or the SIM by putting the SIM into a different handset. Additionally, make sure your handset is not network locked, or your SIM is compatible with the handset. If the problem persists, contact your service provider.

Enter PUK Code or SIM Blocked

The PUK code, or PIN Unlock Key code, is needed to unlock SIM cards where the SIM PIN has been entered incorrectly more than three times. The PUK code is available from your cellular provider.

PUK Blocked

This message is displayed when the PUK is entered incorrectly more than ten times in a row. This permanently disables the SIM and you may need to replace it.

SIM Card Rejected

This message is displayed when the cell phone is network locked and a SIM from a different provider is inserted in the device. Have the device unlocked or obtain a SIM from the original service provider. In some cases it also indicates a broken or blocked SIM. Contact your service provider to resolve.

Emergency Only or No Service

No network coverage. Sometimes this can be resolved by switching the phone off for a minute and powering it back on. This could also be an indication of suspended service, or that your SIM has not been registered on the network yet (if you are a new user).

Unregistered SIM

The SIM may not be registered on the network yet if it is new. Alternatively, switch off your phone, leave it for a minute, and switch it back on. If the problem persists, contact your service provider.

SIM Card Registration Failed

With a new SIM, the card may not be registered on the network yet. With older cards, restart your device as described above. If the error is persistent, contact your cellular provider.

As can be seen from the table above, most errors can be fixed by turning the phone off, leaving it off for a minute, and turning it back on. This is similar to rebooting a computer and allows the phone to update its software and reset the necessary settings.

Buying SIM Cards on eBay

Cell phone SIM cards are listed under Phone Cards & SIM Cards in eBay's Cell Phones & Accessories category. You can narrow your selection by choosing SIM Cards and a service provider from the menus on the left hand side of the screen. Don't forget to check the items listed by eBay Stores before making your selection.

Know the Seller

Before you buy, take some time to get to know the seller. Use the feedback score function that can be found by clicking on the numbers next to the seller's username to form your own opinion of the seller's products and service from the experience of other buyers. Check the seller's accepted payment methods, as well as the terms and conditions of sale. Some sellers offer free shipping or a money back guarantee, while others have refund policies like regular retailers. If you have any questions about the item listed, use the ‘Ask a question' link to ask the seller a question.


A cell phone allows you to connect with friends, family, or business acquaintances wherever you are. However, the convenience of owning a mobile phone can be overshadowed by frustration when you don't know how the phone or its components work. While many people turn to user manuals or product research as a last resort, these things should be consulted before frustration sets in. Learning how to use your SIM card will allow you added benefits, like swapping between phones and extra data and usage security. eBay offers a large selection of new and used SIM cards, from a variety of service providers, allowing you to stay connected all the time, wherever you go.

Have something to share, create your own guide... Write a guide
Explore more guides