Are you looking to ensure that your precious photos are safe, or are simply wondering how they’re stored?

We all know that SIM cards come with each cell phone that has an active plan with a carrier. However, many people are unsure what the SIM card is actually for, and what sort of data is stored on it.

In this article, we’re going to clear some of that up. So if you’re wondering whether or not a SIM card holds pictures along with what other data is stored on it, in this article we’ll cover everything that you need to know!

Are Pictures Stored On The SIM Card?

SIM Card

No. Pictures are not stored on the SIM card, as SIM cards are not designed to be used as a storage device for large files, such as photos and videos.

Instead, SIM cards sometimes only store a small amount of information. A few examples include your phone’s contacts, as well as some text messages.

However, even many modern smartphones store most of this information on the device itself (or on an external storage device such as an SD card) rather than taking advantage of the SIM card’s limited space.

Instead, SIM cards are primarily used for a different function, which we’ll cover in a moment. We’ll also share more about where your photos are stored, and how to move them to a new phone should you wish to do so.

If you’d like to learn more however, we recommend clicking here to learn about the differences between SD and SIM cards in more detail.

What Are SIM Cards Used For?

Although SIM cards can be used to store a limited amount of data, this isn’t their primary purpose.

Instead, SIM cards are used as an identifier to help your carrier provide service to your phone – allowing you to place phone calls, send SMS / MMS text messages, as well as utilize cellular data to browse the internet on your carrier’s network.

SIM cards tell the carrier that you have an active service plan, and may send critical device information to the carrier.

So, without one, you may still be able to use your phone with Wi-Fi, but you will be unable to take advantage of any of the services that your carrier (such as AT&T, Verizon, Sprint Or T-Mobile) offer.

Will I Lose My Photos If I Change My SIM Card?

Let’s say that you’re going to be using the same phone, but you plan on swapping out the SIM card with a new one. Will your pictures be affected?

Thankfully, the answer is no. Because the photos are typically stored on the device itself (unless you deliberately moved them to an SD card on supported Android phones), the photos will remain even if you swap out the SIM card.

You can test this yourself by temporarily pulling the SIM card out of your phone. If you load up your Photos or Gallery app, you should still see the photos on your device as normal.

So, you don’t have to worry about your photos being missing. Because they are not stored on your phone, they will remain regardless of what happens to your device’s SIM card.

Note however that you won’t be able to send them to other people via text message unless you have an active plan with a carrier, however. Instead, you would need to use an internet-based messaging app like Facebook Messenger or Whatsapp until you have an active cellular plan again.

What Happens If I Put My SIM Card In A New Phone?

If you take out your SIM card and put it into a new phone, what happens?

Ultimately, two things.

First of all, any service plan that you currently have will be transferred over to that new phone. You will be able to use it normally as if you’ve always had service with that phone, and will be able to place phone calls, send texts, and use cellular data.

Secondly, only the information that’s stored on the SIM card will be transferred over. This may include contacts and some text messages, but many modern smartphones no longer store this info on the SIM card.

This means that all of the old data on your old phone will still be there, and will not be transferred.

This includes photos, videos, apps, notes, voice memos, texts (in most cases), and anything else that you’ve downloaded.

If you just purchased a new phone and you’re putting your old SIM in it for the first time, the phone will still behave as if it were brand new, with nothing downloaded or installed onto it other than what ships with the phone.

See: If I Buy A New Phone, Can I Just Switch The SIM Card? –  Answered!

How Do You Transfer Photos To A New Phone?

If only moving everything to your new phone was as simple as pulling out your SIM card, and placing it into the new phone!

Unfortunately, it’s a little more complicated than that.

Thankfully, people upgrade their phones all the time, and tools have been developed to make the process as simple as possible.

In fact, AT&T and Verizon for example (along with many other carriers) can help you transfer all of your data over before you even leave the store with your new phone!

If you’d like to do it yourself however, there are tools available to do it.

On iPhone for example, it’s possible to backup all of your data to iCloud, and then restore from an iCloud backup as you’re setting up your new phone. All you need is your Apple ID and to store the data in iCloud.

Android phones also have several tools available to transfer data to your new phone.

Additionally, if you only care about transferring pictures, you can always copy them over to your computer, and then copy them to your new phone after you have it set up.


For better or worse, SIM cards do not hold any photos or videos.

The amount of storage is simply too small, and needs to be reserved for other critical information that helps your carrier provide service.

However, tools are available that can help you move data between phones should you need to.

I hope that you’ve found this article helpful. If you have any other questions about SIM cards or smartphones, please ask them using the comment form below.

Wishing you the best,

– James McAllister

About the author 

James McAllister

James is the owner of He started his first blog at the age of 11, and has since gone on to start several successful businesses. In total, these businesses have sold hundreds of thousands of units and have touched millions of lives. Here on, he shares his knowledge that brought him to where he is today. If you want to connect with James, follow him on your favorite social networks!

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