No more Physical SIM cards? How this affects iPhone users
Only in the US will the new iPhone 14 range be sold without physical SIM trays. Although they will be able to use two eSIMs simultaneously (and store more), is the absence of a physical tray really that big of a deal? Is it also foolish and user-hostile?
First, a quick review of eSIMs: these are SIM cards, only digital and not physical. This means that you won’t need to visit a store to purchase a physical SIM card because your phone can be configured remotely. This makes it (in some ways) easier to switch networks or try one out since T-Cell now uses eSIMs to allow people to experiment its community for up to three months. As long as you stay within the Apple ecosystem, you may even shift your eSIM among iPhones using Bluetooth as of iOS 16. This should make it nearly as straightforward as using a physical SIM. Although only two eSIMs can be active at once, iPhones can store many eSIMs.
Since 2018, iPhones have enabled eSIM and the ability to simultaneously utilise two SIM cards on the majority of major US carriers as well as many other carriers around the world. Before the iPhone 13, there could only be one eSIM and one physical SIM; the iPhone 13 series introduced the ability to use two eSIMs simultaneously. The next natural step is to eliminate the physical SIM and the plug it needs in the casing. The iPhone 14 continues to have a SIM tray everywhere else, at least for Apple and at least in the US.
The absence of a physical SIM tray probably made a big impression on you if you’re a subscriber to one of the major US cellular networks, such as AT&T, Verizon, or T-Cell. You can get an eSIM directly from Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile without going to a store, even if you switch carriers or phone models.
You shouldn’t, however, purchase the iPhone 14 at this time if you’re using a provider that doesn’t support eSIMs or if you’re going to switch to one. This could possibly nudge the smaller providers need to adopt eSIMs, so you won’t be waiting too long. (The iPhone 14 lineup does, however, have nano-SIM slots outside of the US.)
During the launch event it was informed by Apple officials that the iPhone 14 and 14 Professional can store at least eight eSIMs, with up to two of them being active at once. According to global eSIM distributor Airalo, older iPhone models may support 5 to 10. Although not all global carriers support eSIMs, this might lessen the pain of the physical SIM tray’s absence.
It’s convenient to have multiple active SIM cards if you frequently travel, live in a region with patchy coverage for any network, or have different business and personal phone numbers. My iPhone 11 was bought when I was living in the Dutch, and it includes a physical Verizon SIM card as well as a Dutch eSIM. That allowed me to use a local SIM whether I was in the US or Europe without losing access to my other number or having to fiddle around the iMessage or WhatsApp options.
Physical SIMs make it simple to transfer your phone to a different service or your number to a new phone. They are widely used, compatible with all phones, and user-friendly enough. Many of my coworkers shouldn’t be very excited about the SIM slot being removed. It’s not exactly simple to move an eSIM off of an iPhone to an Android phone.
I don’t imagine eliminating the SIM tray is fundamentally user-hostile with most customers; most individuals just don’t shift providers or smartphones each few weeks. However, that depends on how straightforward vendors make the installation and platform migration of eSIMs. We’ll wait and see how this works out.