If you’ve ever opened up a new box of iPhone and wondered what that metal tool in the image was for, you’re not alone. It’s something Apple included with all iPhone models since the 3G, and it has a single purpose, to eject the SIM card tray and why would you need to do that ?
Well, people buy iPhones without a SIM card installed, so you need to access the SIM card tray in order to fully activate the device. Also, many people who upgrade to a new iPhone want to keep their old SIM card since it makes the transition much easier. It is a bit odd that Apple includes what’s essentially a glorified paperclip with every iPhone especially when you consider how much they avoid including free accessories. But the story behind this SIM card ejector tool might be interesting to you.
It began in 2010 when Apple purchased the license for a material called LiquidMetal. A patented metallic glass that doubles the strength of titanium while being easier to manufacture.
The question on everyone’s mind was how would Apple utilize LiquidMetal?
It was assumed the material would appear in an upcoming product. But it wasn’t used for a new iPhone or MacBook, instead it came in the form of a SIM ejector tool. A product is so insignificant that it’s often overlooked in iPhone unboxing videos.
Apple made this decision intentionally, you see when Apple builds a product, they prefer at least two manufacturers for every component if possible, to prevent supply chain bottlenecks, while competition between suppliers keep production costs low. That’s why Samsung and LG provide iPhone displays , with Apple adding a third manufacturer called BOE in 2021.
But LiquidMetal is a unique case. It’s a patented material only manufactured by one company and it hasn’t been around very long. So using LiquidMetal in a flagship product would have been very risky, instead, Apple used it for the iPhone SIM ejector tool as a sort of trial run, that way LiquidMetal can be tested on many different levels, from its speed of production, to its long-term durability.
Apple may eventually use the material in a more prominent way like for an iPhone’s housing but for now this metal tool has been the only application.
This article is inspired by a video in Apple Explained YouTube channel.