What is a SIM card reader?

Updated April 17, 2017

A subscriber identity module--more commonly known as a SIM card--is the heart of your cell phone. It stores phone numbers, text messages, photos, music and any other information you need to save on your cell phone. A SIM card reader is a quick way to access the information stored on a SIM card.


A SIM card reader is a small device that looks similar to a flash drive. The card has a slot on one end or in the side into which the SIM card is placed. The other end of a card reader contains the male half of a USB connection.


SIM card readers range in price from under £6 up to as much as £130, depending on brand, quality and abilities of the reader (see Resources).


Insert a SIM card into the SIM card reader, plug the reader into a USB port in a computer and the user can import/export addresses and phone numbers into Outlook or other address books, back up the SIM card to protect the data in case of card failure and transfer information from one card to another. Users can add/delete, search and edit phone entries on the card. Data can be both read and written to a SIM card. If the SIM card has failed, the card reader enables recovery of data. Some readers allow users to view up to the past 10 numbers dialled.


SIM card readers do not work on all types of cell phones. If a phone does not have a SIM card, or if the phone's default setting does not automatically write information to the SIM card, the card reader is useless.

Fun Fact

The SIM card reader makes parents and spouses into instant spies. One card is advertised as enabling parents to check up on their teenagers' activities such as cheating, partying and drinking. Another card reader touts itself as a way to ensure that a spouse is being faithful, as the reader can recover and view deleted text messages.

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About the Author

Deanne Lachner has been writing and editing fiction and nonfiction for more than 15 years. She has published articles in "Working Women," "Performance Magazine" and the "Direct Selling News." Lachner holds a master's degree in English from Texas Woman's University and is pursuing a second master's degree in instructional design and technology.