Do SIM Cards Go Bad? (Surprising Answer) | DeviceTests (2023)

Do SIM Cards Go Bad? (Surprising Answer) | DeviceTests (1)

SIM cards are the tech pieces that make it possible to identify and authenticate your identity as a mobile device owner.

They have been in use for roughly 3 to 4 decades now. They are coming shortly after mobile phones were developed and replaced land phones. Their selling point is their small size, reducing over the years.

SIM cards are now small and cost next to nothing. Knowing how far SIM card technology has come, you might be wondering, can they go bad? How long can they last? Do they expire?

Quick Answer

SIM cards hardly go bad or expire. They can be used for a lifetime. However, it is possible for a SIM card to go bad if not properly maintained.

In this write-up, we’ve compiled all the relevant knowledge you need regarding your SIM card, and it’ll only take a couple of minutes of your time.

Table of Contents

  1. SIM Cards And Mobile Devices
  2. Can a SIM Card Go Bad?
  3. Symptoms of a Bad SIM Card
    • Bad SIM on iPhone
    • Bad SIM on Android
  4. How To Fix a Bad Sim
  5. Conclusion
  6. Frequently Asked Questions
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SIM Cards And Mobile Devices

SIM in SIM card is an acronym for subscriber identity module or subscriber identification module. It is a piece of plastic that houses a network of microcircuitry that stores a unique identification number.

This identity number key is used to identify and authenticate subscribers on mobile devices.

You can think of SIM cards as an identity, especially for your phone. Without a SIM card, you can’t make calls, text, or access the mobile data services of your mobile device.

They enable your mobile network provider to identify and authenticate your identity whenever you want to perform those actions.

SIM cards and mobile telecom devices are an inseparable combo. You can’t use a SIM card without a mobile device, and your mobile device is essentially crippled without a SIM card.

Can a SIM Card Go Bad?

While the technology behind SIM cards is already matured and guarantees long-term durability, it is indeed possible for your SIM card to go bad. So, depending on how well you use it, a SIM card can eventually wear out.

While good maintenance habits might significantly extend your SIM’s life durability, it is essential to know that as an electronic component, the SIM card is prone to damage from any number of things. Some might include:

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  • Electric shock from mobile device’s battery.
  • Static electricity discharge.
  • Corrosion of chip lines due to exposure to humidity.
  • Bad handling – frequent removal leading to break of chip lines.


Generally, as long as the copper plating that houses the CHIP is still intact, the SIM card is usable.

Symptoms of a Bad SIM Card

A bad SIM can be very frustrating to have. Normal phone activities will be affected and, in extreme cases, cause your phone to stop functioning correctly due to recurring error prompts.

Bad SIM on iPhone

If you are using an iPhone and your SIM gets bad, you may begin to see a “No SIM Installed” message on your home screen even though you have your SIM card in. What this tells you is that your SIM is now bad.

Other symptoms you might notice include:

  • Extended delay of messages and calls
  • Deterioration of sound qualities
  • Contact list corruption – display of only contact numbers (no names)

Bad SIM on Android

The symptoms of a bad SIM on Android are quite similar to those of an iPhone.

Damaged SIM conditions can cause your android to freeze at random intervals. The freeze can be broken by forceful rebooting or removing your android’s battery where applicable.

Other than phone freeze, irregular password authentication prompts might start popping up without you rebooting your phone.

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How To Fix a Bad Sim

Unlike SD cards, SIM cards don’t get corrupted internally. A bad SIM card is either physically damaged or needs to be cleaned.

If your SIM card is physically damaged, you can’t fix it. You want to visit a service center and replace the SIM card. Depending on your preference, you can ask for a duplicate SIM or get a new one entirely.

However, if you have valuable and important data stored on your SIM card, it is possible to retrieve your data. You can try it by following this step-by-step guide:

  1. Purchase a SIM Card reader if you don’t have one. It usually costs only a few dollars.
  2. Plug the SIM card reader into a computer and complete the installation process according to the installation wizard.
  3. After successful installation, clean your SIM card gently and Insert the SIM into the card reader. Take care not to cause additional damage to the chip lines.
  4. Launch the SIM card reader software on your computer and explore your resolution options. For instance, if you wish to recover contacts and messages, you can browse through the stored files on the software interface to select and recover them.
  5. Click on the “Recover” button to save your data to your PC.


In this guide, we’ve explored the subtleties of SIM card technology and its interdependent relationship with mobile devices.

With this guide, you are now equipped with all the relevant knowledge about the nature of the SIM card. We hope that all your questions about the SIM card and its durability have been answered, and you can now use your SIM card knowing the DOs and DON’Ts of this tech.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a damaged SIM card cause phone problems?

No, a damaged SIM card can’t cause any direct issue for your phone. However, a bad or damaged SIM card can disrupt the normal functioning of your mobile phone. And the lack of network connectivity can potentially strip your device of meaningful functionality – internet, calls, and messages.

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Can a bad SIM affect phone performance?

Yes, and in extreme cases, it can freeze your phone. When you get the “Insert SIM” prompt, regardless of its frequency, your phone’s ability to send and receive signals is impacted negatively.

Can I repair a damaged SIM?

You can’t repair a physically damaged SIM card. However, if the SIM card isn’t working due to improper placement, or an incorrect or blocked PIN, you can repair it by paying a visit to a service center.

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What happens when a SIM card goes bad? ›

Long-term problems with SIM cards going bad

A physical SIM has exposed connectors that will be moved from one device to another. Snapping, bending, scratching, or breaking them is always a risk if moved improperly or stored poorly. There's also a long-to-short-term risk of card degradation and loss of function.

How do I know if my SIM card went bad? ›

The easiest way to find out? Install the SIM card in another device and see if it works there. You'll need to test it in an unlocked device, or a device that works with the same cellular carrier as the SIM card you're testing. If the SIM card works, it's probably an issue with your phone rather than the SIM card.

What can destroy a SIM card? ›

Submerge it into water

A good method to get rid of the SIM card is to fill a glass with water and add a teaspoon of salt. Drop the card in it and make the water and salt work for a while, these two elements will corrode the chip and make it useless.

What causes a SIM card to fail? ›

There are various reasons why your Android or iOS device won't read the SIM card. Some possible causes could be that you didn't insert the SIM card correctly or your device is experiencing a software issue. Whatever the reason, a solution needs to be found quickly when your phone says: “No SIM card detected.”

Do SIM cards need replacing? ›

Yes. Your phone's SIM card (or eSIM profile) is associated with a carrier, plan and billing account. Even if your device is compatible with another carrier, you'll need a new SIM that connects to their network.

How long do SIM cards last? ›

Each SIM stays active for 60 days, after which it goes inactive. There is then a 60 days grace period, however, if you do not top up within this time the SIM will expire. This means, you will not be able to make or receive calls, including calls to emergency numbers.

What is the average life of a SIM card? ›

Generally speaking, you can expect your SIM card to last for at least 5 years assuming it has been properly cared for, and is not removed frequently. However, reports from others have mentioned that they've been using the same SIM card for over 10 years without any problems.

How often should I replace my SIM card? ›

There is no reason to ever replace a SIM card unless the card itself is malfunctioning, or your carrier deactivated it. The SIM card is for connecting to cellular networks, it has nothing to do with the touch screen or keyboard.

Can someone bug your SIM card? ›

The short answer to this is yes. It's absolutely possible for someone to clone or even hack your SIM card. However, it's not that common – in fact installing spyware onto a victim's device is a much more common practice used by hackers.

What information stays on a SIM card? ›

Data that SIM cards contain include user identity, location and phone number, network authorization data, personal security keys, contact lists and stored text messages. SIM cards allow a mobile user to use this data and the features that come with them.

Will a magnet erase a SIM card? ›

Rest assured: Your SIM card and SD card are both totally safe from magnets.

Why does my phone no longer recognize my SIM card? ›

There are a few reasons your phone might not detect a SIM card. It could be a problem with the SIM card itself. You might not have placed the SIM card in the tray correctly, or the card might be dirty or damaged. You will also have connection issues if the old SIM and your new phone are incompatible.

How much does a new SIM card cost? ›

Anywhere from $0-$20… most of the time with existing account a sim is free to fix a technical issue but that is through the mail or at company owned store. SIM cards can be purchased for very little on eBay and if having to pay full cost usually the charge is $5.

Can you get a new SIM card with the same number? ›

Yes. Replacing your SIM, you can keep your same number. Just request that when getting the replacement SIM and have them activate it with your number or send it to you unactivated and then call Customer Care to have it activated with the number on the phone that is lost.

How do I get a new SIM card but keep the same number? ›

This is called porting your mobile number. To keep your mobile number and transfer it to another network, you need to request what's called a Porting Authorisation Code (PAC) from your old provider and then give the code to your new provider so they can schedule the switch.

Does changing SIM card affect anything? ›

Answer. No. SIM cards do not store data.

Can you reactivate a SIM card? ›

Once a SIM card has been deactivated, it's not possible to reactivate it. Moreover, deactivating the SIM card returns the phone number associated with it to the pool of available phone numbers. It is therefore impossible to keep the phone number associated with a deactivated SIM.

Can an old SIM card cause problems? ›

Generally the SIM card doesn't have much to do with the phones performance, it simply allows you to connect to your carriers network. However if your carrier is having network issues or the SIM is malfunctioning it's not inconceivable that it could cause intermittent issues like you describe.

Does 5G need a new SIM card? ›

Yes, you will need a 5G SIM card to get access to the 5G network.

Can a bad SIM card cause no service? ›

Can a bad SIM card cause no service? The answer is YES! If your SIM card is properly inserted but you still have no service, this might be due to a faulty SIM card.

Can a bad SIM card break a phone? ›

About iPhone SIM Cards

The card doesn't affect reception; however, without it, you can connect to the wireless network to make or receive calls and use several of the phone's communication features. If the SIM card is damaged, faulty or improperly connected a “No SIM” card error usually appears on the screen.


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