How to cut your own micro SIM card for free, in time for iPhone 4 launch day

I braved the queues (actually, the barrage of error messages) on Tuesday, 15 July, to pre-order my iPhone 4 direct from Apple. Hopefully I’ll save in the long run as I’m planning to go for a £10-15 pay-as-you-go or SIM-only contract deal rather than being tied in to a £30+ contract for 18 to 24 months.

Until I’ve figured out which operator to go with, I plan to stick with my current O2 contract. I’ve crossed my fingers that O2 will ship me a microSIM before I get the phone, otherwise I will be going down the DIY route, trimming my existing SIM down using this PDF template. In case you don’t read German, here’s a quick translation of the instructions:

Micro-SIM template for iPad/iPhone 4 SIM cards

The Apple iPad (and upcoming iPhone 4) uses not a standard 25x15mm SIM card, but a micro-SIM. The micro-SIM format is 15x12mm, but the contact layout is identical to a standard SIM.

Therefore, it is possible to convert a standard SIM into a micro-SIM which can be installed in the iPad or fourth-generation iPhone.

How does it work?

  1. Print the stencil at 100% – don’t shrink to fit the page. The outer black portion should match the size of your existing SIM.
  2. Cut and paste the stencil on the back of the SIM (not on the contacts!). The white area must be exactly on the reverse side of the chip.
  3. With sharp scissors, cut cleanly along the outline of the inner white area.
  4. Remove the stencil. If necessary,  diagonally trim the corners and/or grind down the edges with a nail file.

I accept no responsibility if you damage your SIM by following these instructions… in fact I’m too busy worrying about whether I’ll break mine!

There are commercial card cutters that can do the job, but I can’t justify spending upwards of £20 for something I’ll only use once or twice at most, and again there’s no guarantee that the item would be delivered by launch day.

Guitar Hero comes to iPhone

The official Guitar Hero iPhone game was announced today at Apple’s 2010 Worldwide Developers Conference. While there have been many similar apps – such as the Tap Tap Revenge franchise and the Rock Band app – it’s nice to see an official GH game for the iPhone, and it certainly doesn’t fail to impress.

Expecting great things given its high-profile launch, I didn’t hesitate to purchase the app. I wasn’t sure that the concept would translate well to the small screen, but the developers (Vicarious Visions) have done a great job, squeezing in both tapping and strumming mechanics, unlike many competing games. Most of the notes are played simply by tapping, but some of the notes (signified by an arrow on the screen) need to be strummed by pressing the relevant colour then dragging your finger to the edge of the screen. It’s actually quite tricky, and I like to think of myself as a fairly adept Guitar Hero player.

When the game loads, you are first asked if you want to allow it to access your iPod music library, in order to notify you when your favourite artists have tracks available. You are then offered a brief introduction to the game before diving in to a selection of tracks from artists such as Vampire Weekend, The Rolling Stones, Rise Against, Weezer, The White Stripes and Queen. The app is stable and the graphics smooth, even on my aging iPhone 3G

There’s a music store which lets you download three-track song packs for £1.19 ($1.99), with 14 artists to choose from but presumably more to follow. There’s also Facebook integration, which allows you to brag about your progress to your friends, although I haven’t explored this functionality yet.

I’m not a big iPhone gamer, so this is the first game I’ve purchased in quite a while, and I’m glad I did. Attractively priced at £1.79 ($2.99), it’s well worth checking out, whether you’re a long-term Guitar Hero fan or not.