Apple is fully integrated into the eSIM (embedded SIM), which is an internal, programmable version of the SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card used to identify your phone to cellular networks. With US models iPhone 14 . seriesApple got rid of a physical SIM card slot. But it also continues to expand the flexibility of the eSIM on other iPhone and iPad models.
For decades, the SIM card has served as a secure hardware component that fits into a slot in phones used in most networks around the world. The SIM provides the phone’s encrypted unique identifier information to join a home network or the identifier itself while roaming. A SIM card allows a carrier to associate one or more phone numbers and billing information to a specific cellular device. (Technically, SIM cards were used in one Two types of cellular networks, those that used the GSM standard. GSM prevailed and became the basis for the evolution to 4G and 5G technologies. The competing standard, CDMA, on the verge of extinction.)
What exactly is an eSIM? What iPhones and iPads work with one or more devices? How do you manage an eSIM? Let’s explore these questions.
What is an eSIM?
SIM cards were designed in the era of foldable phones and earlier, providing an external piece of off-the-shelf circuitry that was impossible to manage in devices at the time. The modern iPhone, iPad, or similar Android and other devices only need a SIM card to fuel the legacy cellular infrastructure.
An eSIM is still a piece of circuitry, but it’s built into your phone or tablet, and it can be reprogrammed. It can basically load the data needed to interact with a cellular network just as if it were a removable card with a fixed identity hidden. Carriers have to update their networks to work with an eSIM to handle activation and integration with their billing systems, but an eSIM does the same job.
Is an eSIM better than a SIM?
Not having to fiddle with SIMs is a huge benefit. First, you can usually activate an eSIM for monthly service or on-the-go plans on your phone without any interaction with a customer service representative, and almost never making a personal visit to a cellular store.
Second, you don’t have to wait to receive a circuit-laden plastic piece that is the SIM card. Third, you no longer have to manage opening the SIM card slot—using Apple’s SIM removal tool you definitely can’t find when you need it and switching to a paperclip instead—and dealing with a SIM the size of a toddler’s fingernails and putting in another one. I dropped my SIM irretrievably in the digital piano keyboard, and others went to the airport cafe floors when I arrived with my family in another country and needed to switch in the local service.
Does the eSIM affect the unlocking or locking of the phone?
Although the eSIM is fully programmable and digital, it does not affect whether the phone or tablet that incorporates the technology is locked or unlocked by the carrier that uses your device on their network. Your ability to unlock your iPhone for use on another network depends on your carrier’s policies, whether you’re using a SIM or an eSIM. Follow these links for details at AT&TAnd the T-MobileAnd the Verizon.
There is concern that carriers can only use an eSIM on iPhone 14 and future models as a way to ensure their network is locked. However, this is already the case with carriers locking up the phone to their network with physical SIM cards, so it’s hard to see how an eSIM offers stricter restrictions.
How do I get cellular service outside the US?
You once had to swap the device’s SIM card when traveling to another country. With an eSIM, you can still add a second plan outside of your area. When you come home, simply deactivate the eSIM. However, there are some countries that haven’t adopted eSIM yet, and your eSIM-only iPhone 14 or later model may not work for you in some countries or your favorite carriers there. Analysts believe that Apple is trying to push eSIM adoption with this move. may work.
Before traveling, check with your carrier to see if they offer the service in the country you are traveling to. Even if your iPhone remains locked to local services, many carriers allow you to use the service outside of your country or region if you meet certain conditions (such as paying for your phone if the carrier funds the purchase or a certain time has passed since you created an account) , or they may offer add-ons to your plan that allow international coverage.
Apple added support for an eSIM as well as a removable SIM starting with the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. The combination of SIM plus removable eSIM continues across the iPhone 14 series, with the exception of US iPhone 14 models only.
With the iPhone 13 series, you can use a removable SIM in addition to the eSIM or Two eSIMs to serve you. This form represents a transition to where some carriers will choose to activate the eSIM for your primary service or give you the option. Either way, this allows you to get a free eSIM “slot” for roaming.
The iPhone 14 series lets you have one or two active eSIMs, while reportedly letting you store up to eight eSIMs that you can swap in and out. Apple hasn’t released those details, and it’s not clear if iPhone 14 models outside the US will also allow the same offline eSIM storage.
Frequent flyers in many countries will appreciate the ability to store multiple eSIMs. Those of us who travel less or less extensively will likely only add an eSIM when we’re on a trip, with the eSIM expiring within a specified number of days after activation.
Apple also supports eSIMs on Wi-Fi/cellular iPads starting with the iPad mini 5th generation, iPad 7th generation, iPad Air 3rd generation, 12.9-inch iPad Pro 3rd generation, and 1st generation iPad Pro 11-inch. The iPad can store two eSIM profiles but only one is activated at a time.
How are eSIMs activated?
Apple notes that there are three different types of eSIM support that vary by carrier:
Activate the eSIM Carrier service: You can activate a new phone with an eSIM dedicated to the phone.
eSIM Quick Transfer: If you have an existing iPhone with a phone number assigned to it – whether it’s a physical SIM or an eSIM – you can transfer that phone to your new iPhone’s eSIM. For a physical SIM, there’s an extra step you can take on your phone to “convert” it to an eSIM.
Other methods: Some carriers may require you to scan a QR code to activate the eSIM or use an app provided by the carrier. This is generally the case when purchasing a pay-as-you-go plan or a time-limited travel plan.
A set of on-screen carrier and Apple Help instructions, often in Settings> cellularOn the iPhone, it walks you through the process.
On the iPad, Apple has always asked us to activate cellular plans through Settings> cellular data. This is the same with an eSIM. Since iPads don’t directly use a phone number, enabling and switching services is easier. (Nominally, the carrier assigns a number for billing purposes, but you can’t use it for text messages or voice calls.) An eSIM can be activated when you sign up for a plan on your iPad, by scanning a QR code, or by using your carrier’s app, depending on the carrier. Telecommunications.
Once you have two SIM cards activated in any combination, you can manage them in Settings> cellular or Settings> cellular data, where they appear as different sections under the main heading. You’ll also see two rows in the status bar, one for each carrier, containing the network name and connection status for each using the Apple Cellular icons.
When you use cellular-enabled apps on your iPhone, you can choose which line you want to use for text messages and phone calls, as well as control which plan carries your cellular data. apple Provides a detailed guide To configure two lines and choose which service will be used for each call or for any other purpose.
This Mac 911 article comes in response to a question submitted by Macworld reader Steve.
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