Apple has finally come up with iPhones that support dual SIM cards. Both the iPhone XS and XS Max have dual-SIM support. However, only the models for the Chinese market will feature a SIM tray to hold two physical cards; others will have to be content with eSIM. Though there are several benefits of the iPhone eSim tech, it is only supported in 10 countries.
Here’s what you need to know about the iPhone eSim tech
The countries that support eSIM are the U.S., the U.K., Hungary, India, Spain, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany and Austria. In the U.S., the iPhone eSim tech is not supported by Sprint and other smaller carriers. Thus, users will need to switch to T-Mobile, Verizon or AT&T to use the eSIM feature.
Outside the U.S., eSIM is supported by only T-Mobile in Austria and the Czech Republic, Bell in Canada, Hrvatski Telekom in Croatia, Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone in Germany, Magyar Telekom in Hungary, Airtel and Reliance Jio in India, Vodafone in Spain, and EE in the U.K.
In China, the iPhone XS and XS Max will come with a SIM tray which will hold both SIMs. For now, China has very limited eSIM compatibility. Though both China Telecom and China Mobile have introduced eSIM support, it is limited to a few cities.
Dual-SIM support will be available in China from the phones’ release, while in the rest of the world, Apple will activate the iPhone eSIM support later this fall. One important point iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max owners should know is that if your iPhone is locked to one carrier, the second SIM must be from the same carrier. If the iPhone is locked to a CDMA network, then the other SIM won’t support CDMA.
“To use two different carriers, your iPhone must be unlocked. Otherwise, both plans must be from the same carrier. If a CDMA carrier provides your first SIM, your second SIM won’t support CDMA,” says Apple’s support page.
Why does Apple prefer eSIM?
Apple first introduced eSIM with the Apple Watch Series 3. Since then, there have been speculations that Apple would soon add the tech the iPhone. Offering support for two SIMs is seen as a major growth catalyst in emerging markets like China and India, where people prefer to have two SIM cards.
For the iPhone eSIM tech to function, it only needs a compatible network or carrier support. eSIMs also do away with the need to stick a pin into the SIM tray to get it out. Further, the technology does not cause any wasted space, so this is one big reason Apple has opted for iPhone eSim tech. Both the iPhone XS and XS Max will still have a nano SIM card slot to support the second SIM card.
Offering dual-SIM support has its advantages, like when traveling internationally, as you are able to keep two phone numbers. In developing markets, dual SIMs are used to avoid roaming fees and enjoy the best of two mobile plans without giving up the first SIM card.
New revenue stream for Apple
One analyst believes the iPhone eSim tech could open new revenue streams for Apple. However, for that to happen, the iPhone maker will have to balance its relationships with major carriers globally.
“The eSIM will be controlled by Apple and it can dictate which carriers to partner with, support and show relative mobile plans,” Counterpoint Research director Neil Shah told CNBC. “So Apple can be the gatekeeper now since it will have control over eSIM. Thus it will demand a revenue cut for the activations happening through eSIM.”
Dual-SIM support ensures that a user has two separate lines: one via the physical SIM card and the other via an eSIM or embedded SIM. The iPhone eSim tech should allow users to change carriers without getting a new SIM card or visiting the store. Such a feature is extremely useful when you are traveling abroad.
Because of such benefits, many believe the iPhone eSim tech could give carriers a reason to worry, as users could now switch providers quickly. Many also believe that going ahead, Apple may come up with its own data charge to ensure an end-to-end mobile network experience.