The iPhone 14 lineup won’t have physical SIM support

The new iPhone 14 lineup it will ship without physical SIM trays, at least in the US They will be able to use two eSIMs at once (and store more than that), but is the lack of a physical tray a big deal? forks user-hostile and stupid?

First, a review of eSIMs: they are SIM cards, but electronic, not physical. That means your phone can be remotely provisioned, you no longer have to go to a store to get a physical SIM card. This makes it easier (somehow) to switch networks or try one: T-Mobile now uses eSIM for let people test your network for up to three months. Starting with iOS 16, you can even transfer your eSIM between iPhones via Bluetooth, which should make it almost as easy as a physical SIM, as long as you stay in the Apple ecosystem. Of course.

more important Carriers in the US, and many around the world, have eSIM supportY iPhones have supported them since 2018., including the ability to use two SIMs at once. Until the iPhone 13, that meant an eSIM and a physical SIM; the iPhone 13 family introduced the ability to use two eSIMs at the same time. Removing the physical SIM, and the hole in the case it requires, is the next logical step. At least for Apple.

If you’re on one of the major US cell phone networks (AT&T, Verizon, or T-Mobile), the lack of a physical SIM tray probably won’t bother you much. Even if you change carriers or change phones, you can download an eSIM directly from Verizon, AT&Teither T Mobile without going to a store. But if you have an MVNO or a reseller that doesn’t have eSIM support or is planning to switch to one, well, you shouldn’t be getting the iPhone 14 right now. You may not have to wait too long; this could be the push smaller operators need to get on board with eSIMs.

That is not a SIM slot; it’s a mmWave clipping
Image: Allison Johnson, The Verge

It’s important to note that iPhones can store multiple eSIMs, although only two can be active at a time. Apple doesn’t say how many eSIMs you can store in an iPhone, but global eSIM reseller Airolo says it is. five to 10, depending on the model. This might alleviate some loss of the physical SIM tray. (I haven’t used Airolo and can’t vouch for them, but being able to remotely provision a local eSIM when traveling abroad might take the hassle out of finding a local SIM.) The ability to have more than one active SIM is great for frequent travelers, people who live in areas where any network has spotty coverage, or people who have separate personal and work numbers. I bought my iPhone 11 when I lived in the Netherlands and it has a Dutch eSIM and a Verizon physical SIM. That meant I could use a local SIM whether I was in Europe or the US without losing access to my other number or having to mess with my iMessage or WhatsApp settings.

Physical SIMs make it easy to take your phone to a different carrier or port your number to a new phone. They’re ubiquitous, work on all phones, and pretty easy to use (although also easy to lose – ask me how I know), and a lot of my co-workers aren’t thrilled about losing their SIM slot. Moving an eSIM from an iPhone to an Android phone isn’t necessarily trivial. I don’t think removing the SIM tray is necessarily user unfriendly to most people; most people don’t just switch carriers or phones every few weeks. But that depends on how easy it is for providers to install and migrate eSIM between platforms. We will see how this develops.


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