How to Access SIM Card Data

By Dan Ketchum

Updated October 03, 2017

Subscriber identity module (SIM) card is a circuit board that stores data to your cell phone.
i sim card image by Stephen Gibson from

For the most part, the only time you'll need to access your SIM card is when you do it with a paperclip – you know, to push the tiny button, pop your card out and slide it into a shiny new phone. That's because SIM cards, which are essential for securing your phone and linking it to your personal number and service provider, actually store a very limited amount of information (mostly notably, your contacts). If you're still rocking an older SIM and your popularity is so off the charts that it's time to clear up a little space for contacts, you can access that data, but the process depends on whether you have an Android device or an iPhone.

On iOS

While chip-like SIM cards typically store only service info, contacts and a smattering of text messages, they sometimes contain apps (often annoyingly) pre-loaded by your carrier. On Apple devices, the most common reason for wanting to access your SIM's data is to remove these unwanted applications – doing so is a fortunately painless process.

From your iPhone's Settings menu, tap "Phone," then choose "SIM Applications." From here, you'll be able to see which apps are taking up SIM card data. If you'd like to remove any of them, delete the way you would any app – simply tap and hold the icon till it wiggles, then press the "X" that appears. Some default apps, though, may not be deleted.

On Android

To take a peek at the data on your Android's installed SIM card, open the Settings app by swiping down to access the drop-down menu. From Settings, either tap "About phone" or search for "About phone," then choose "Status" and "SIM status" to see data on your phone number, service status and roaming info.

Once you're there, there's not a whole lot you can do with your card's data other than see what's there. To manage the data, however, turn to a plethora of third-party, free-to-download SIM card apps from Google Play. Apps such as SIM Tool Manager and My SIM Toolkit Manager not only allow you to view SIM card data, they allow you to modify contact info, delete contacts and export contacts to a file for backup purposes.

SIM-ple Cautions

No matter what sort of phone you have, be aware that tampering with your SIM card to "unlock" your smartphone – or allow it to use a different carrier network – is illegal while you're under carrier contract. As such, you'll want to keep your data management limited to altering your contacts.

Once your contract with your service provider expires, though, you can simply call your carrier and request them to unlock your phone – by law, carriers must comply.