Apple revealed the Apple’s iPhone 14, 14 Plus, 14 Pro, and 14 Pro Max on September 7. The new high-end phones have Apple’s A15 Bionic and A16 Bionic chipsets, and the Pro models are the first to offer the Always-on Display.
Apple appears to be making significant changes to US-made iPhones. The key change in question is the removal of the physical SIM card tray, which will be replaced by eSIM in the country. Those that travel a lot will need to do their homework before leaving, or buy their new iPhones in Canada, Mexico, or Europe, where the SIM card tray remains for now.
WHAT IS AN ESIM?
Apple offers three eSIM setup options:
eSIM Quick Transfer transforms a physical SIM to an eSIM or transmits an eSIM between phones wirelessly.
eSIM Carrier Activation activates a new service line during iPhone setup.
Carriers that don’t support the above methods use apps or websites. Users can scan a QR code after providing account details to set up an eSIM on a new phone.
AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon support Quick Transfer and Carrier Activation, so setup should be easy. Apple’s website says smaller “MVNO” providers and international carriers support these activation methods.
Setting up an eSIM may be more of a bother than replacing a real SIM card for carriers who don’t support Apple’s Quick Transfer and Carrier Activation tools, but it beats having to buy a new card.
Due to actual SIM cards’ finickiness, eSIM may be easier for some. Techsponential analyst Avi Greengart believes SIM card trays and holes are challenging for persons with fine motor control issues.
The Disadvantages & Benefits Of Employing eSIM
No card means easier network switching. No waiting for a new SIM card. Travel with the ejector tool. Switching is straightforward with a new profile. Check if your local network supports both physical and eSIM if you have a compatible device.
iPhone Xs and later, Samsung Galaxy S20 Series and after, Google Pixel 3 and earlier support eSim. You can travel with a new SIM card for internet access without removing your “home” SIM card. Many eSIM devices support 5 profiles. Multiple eSIMs can be used in a single device. You can have private, work, travel, and family SIMs on one phone.
SIM card removal saves space. Smartphones and smartwatches have limited SIM card slots. Removing the SIM card slot could provide way for stronger water and dust protection, a larger battery, and extra sensors.
Using eSIM has various downsides, depending on your country and local laws, and it could limit how some people use their devices.
Installing and activating an eSIM is straightforward and requires no extra hardware, but what if your smartphone is lost or damaged? All the data is on the device, thus an ejector tool won’t work. It connects to the phone’s OS to set up and offer service.
Privacy-conscious users can’t discard an eSIM; they can only turn it off. Wi-Fi, data, and aeroplane mode can prevent tracking. Because thieves can’t remove the eSIM, it’s easier to track a stolen phone.
Local laws affect eSIM. In the UK, carriers can’t lock eSIMs to certain handsets, preventing consumers from reselling phones for quick cash. In several countries, carriers may ban contract-based smartphones.
ESIM COMPATIBLE WITH ALL US CARRIER?
Some MVNOs that lease capacity from the main carriers don’t support eSIM, therefore you can’t use an Apple’s iPhone 14 on their networks.
CounterPoint Research’s Jeff Fieldhack says that 60% of MVNOs don’t support eSIM, while those that do cover 85% of subscribers. Ting, Walmart Mobile, US Mobile, Net10, Tello are outliers.
Uncertain if that will change soon. Ting, a Dish Network-owned MVNO, has complained about eSIM and hasn’t committed to introducing it for the iPhone 14.
“This change will be toughest for MVNOs who need to update their infrastructure and processes,” adds Greengart.
Should I Care About The eSIM Switch?
Most of the technology is already in place, and it will be years before actual SIM support is eliminated from smartphones. Like the 3.5mm headphone jack, the shift will take 3-5 years. Low-end and mid-range handsets will likely preserve the nano-SIM card slot for the foreseeable future, but it will eventually disappear.
Since there are many smartphone collectors, carriers will likely continue to offer SIM cards for many years, but mainly to support the hundreds of millions of devices people use every day to make calls and interact with others. Satellite systems will likely keep the SIM card port as a solid solution for researchers and engineers.
I think the eSIM changeover will have more positives than cons in the near future, and most difficulties will be fixed quickly. As we transition to this new standard, carriers will give more support and build specialised helplines to fix issues fast. Most of the infrastructure is already there in most carriers’ networks. Broken phones must be fixed soon. Many providers now offer a one-stop-shop via mobile app or web to manage accounts and plans, and I see no reason why eSIM support would be different.