In the United States, the new iPhone 14 lineup will not ship with a physical SIM card slot. Instead, Apple is going all-in on eSIM technology. While some iPhone users may have already transitioned to eSIM, most have not. Before the first iPhone 14 orders arrive on September 16, here are some details about Apple’s eSIM support.
What does eSIM mean for iPhone 14?
The iPhone line has supported eSIM technology for many years. The iPhone XS was the first model to add the technology and every new iPhone since then supports eSIM. Each of those iPhone models also offered a nano SIM card slot. So if you didn’t want to use an eSIM, you didn’t have to.
eSIMs, sometimes called embedded SIMs, are still SIM cards, but they are electronically programmable. This means there is no physical SIM card that needs to be inserted into your iPhone or activated. Instead, sign in with your carrier information and the carrier will remotely provision your iPhone so you can connect to their network.
Once this process is complete, your iPhone works just like it would with a physical SIM card. It’s also important to note that only iPhone 14 models sold in the United States will be eSIM-only. Models sold in other countries will still have a nano-SIM card slot.
An Apple spokesperson confirmed to the edge that the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus can store up to six eSIMs and two of them can be active at the same time. The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max can store up to eight.
Option 1: Set up iPhone 14 with ‘eSIM Quick Transfer’
In a support document, Apple explains that you’ll be able to convert your physical SIM to an eSIM during the iPhone 14 setup process. This can be done even if you’ve never used an eSIM before.
During the setup process, you will be prompted to transfer your SIM card from your old iPhone to your new iPhone. This is also the process you’ll use if you’re transferring an existing eSIM from your old iPhone to your new iPhone 14.
- Choose a cellular plan to transfer from another device. If you don’t see a list of numbers, tap Transfer from another device. This requires both devices to have iOS 16 or later.
- Check the instructions on your old iPhone to confirm the transfer. To confirm, tap Transfer or, if prompted for a verification code, enter the code displayed on your new iPhone.
- Wait for the cellular plan to activate on your new iPhone. Your old SIM is deactivated when the cellular plan is activated on your new iPhone.
- If a banner appears on your new iPhone that says Finish setting up your carrier’s cellular plan, tap on it. You will be redirected to your provider’s website to transfer your eSIM. If you need help, contact your carrier.
Option 2: use a QR code from your operator
Some carriers don’t support what Apple calls “fast eSIM transfer.” If this is the case, you’ll need to scan a QR code from your carrier to activate the eSIM inside your iPhone 14. When you get to the “Set Up Cellular” screen in the iPhone 14 setup process, there will be an option to use a QR code. .
This will guide you through the process of scanning the QR code provided by your carrier to activate your iPhone 14 eSIM. The process to obtain that QR code will vary from carrier to carrier.
Option 3: Convert a physical SIM to an eSIM with your current iPhone
If you want to get a head start on the transition to eSIM, you can convert the physical SIM inside your current iPhone to an eSIM. From there, you’ll be able to transfer that eSIM to your new iPhone 14 when it arrives.
- On your iPhone, go to Settings > Cellular.
- Tap Convert to eSIM. If you don’t see this option, you’ll need to contact your carrier.
- Tap Convert Cellular Plan.
- Choose Convert to eSIM.
- Wait for your eSIM to activate. Once this is complete, your old SIM card is deactivated.
- Remove the physical SIM and restart your iPhone.
9to5Mac’s opinion: reaching an eSIM-only future
Before the iPhone 14 event, there were rumors that Apple was planning to increase its focus on eSIM technology. It was rumored that Apple might ditch the physical SIM card altogether, but the announcement still surprised many people. But keep in mind: Steve Jobs never I wanted the iPhone to have a SIM card tray.
For the majority Folks, the iPhone 14 eSIM transition should result in an experience identical to a physical SIM, if not better. It won’t be as dramatic a lifestyle change as the removal of the headphone jack was with the iPhone 7. The question, of course, is how seamless the process is to get to that point. While Apple has outlined the transition process, there are a number of variables at play.
My biggest concern is this: could carriers get overloaded and face activation issues on the day the iPhone 14 launches? Presumably, the transition of millions of people to eSIM is more onerous than users simply changing their SIM card from their old iPhone to their new iPhone.
Remember the days when we had to connect our iPhones to iTunes to activate them? Apple’s servers could be unreliable during this process, but AT&T’s activation process was notoriously finicky. Could eSIM setups and provisioning cause similar headaches?
Another concern of mine is that this could give carriers more power. They could implement user-hostile restrictions and make it difficult to switch to a competing network. They may charge additional “activation” fees. US carriers have been known to push the limits of what smartphone users are willing to put up with, so this will be something to watch out for.
But even if there are some bumps in the transition to eSIM, the end result will be much more convenient for (most) users. for instance, should make the carrier change process much easier. It also means there is one less physical port on your iPhone. When setting up a new iPhone, you also won’t have to worry about losing or damaging your SIM card.
In terms of international travel, the fact that the iPhone 14 can store multiple eSIMs should make this process easier. The key, however, will be to use a carrier that supports eSIM. This could present a problem for travelers using an iPhone 14 from the United States in a country where eSIM technology is not as widespread.
In the long term, I’m curious to see what removing the SIM card tray means for the iPhone’s design and durability. The removal of the headphone jack with the iPhone 7 helped pave the way for improved water resistance and the all-new design of the iPhone X just a year later.
What do you think of the iPhone 14 that only supports eSIM in the US? Is Apple making this change too soon? Let us know below in the comments.
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