In a recent interview, the CEO of French Telecom/Orange, Stephane Richard, dropped some hits towards a “smaller and thinner” iPhone 5 with a different SIM card design. Instead of the traditional method, Apple has apparently agreed with wireless carriers to support a smaller and more lightweight SIM for the next iPhone.

Practically, this smaller SIM card would make the iPhone thinner. There is also the possibility that such a SIM card could work in tandem with the rumored ‘global device‘ that Apple could release this year.

“As you probably know, Apple has been working for years on reducing the size of SIM cards because they need space in the phone. They even thought about a device without any SIM card, that is what is known as the e-SIM project. All of us told them it was a bad idea because the SIM card is a critical piece of the security and authentication process. It would be very difficult for a telco or carrier to manage the customer relationship. We are going to work with them in order to standardize a new format of SIM which takes into accout our needs with security and authentication and also is compatible with their wishes in terms of size.

The person who saw the prototype of the new iPhone said the device was significantly lighter than the iPhone 4 and had an edge-to-edge screen that could be manipulated by touch, as well as a virtual keyboard and voice-based navigation.”

As Apple continues to try and reduce the size of its products, one can only wonder how long it will take before we see an invisible iPhone. The iPhone 4 is already a thin and appealing device. It’s hard to imagine the next iPhone being even thinner.

Could these new SIM cards be for the rumored ‘iPhone Nano‘ we keep hearing about? If Apple eventually introduced a cheaper and smaller iPhone (perhaps unlocked?), these new SIM cards would be perfect.

What do you think? Do these new SIM cards hint at an iPhone Nano, or simply a smaller iPhone this fall?