iPhone 14 eSIM: What you need to know

In the United States, the new iPhone 14 range will not come with a physical SIM card slot. Instead, Apple is turning entirely to eSIM technology. While some iPhone users may have already made the switch to eSIM, most have not. Ahead of the first iPhone 14 orders arriving on September 16, here are some details about Apple’s eSIM support.

What does eSIM mean for iPhone 14?

The iPhone range has eSIM technology supported for many years. The iPhone XS was the first model to add the technology and every new iPhone since then supports eSIM. Each of these 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 that no physical SIM card needs to be inserted into your iPhone or activated. Instead, you sign in with your carrier’s information, and they’ll remotely provision your iPhone so it 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 US will be eSIM-only. Models sold in other countries will still have a nano-SIM card slot.

iPhone 14 eSIM Event

An Apple spokesperson confirmed The edge that iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus can store up to six eSIMs and two of them can be active at a 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 will be able to convert your physical SIM card to an eSIM during the iPhone 14 setup process. This can be done even if you have never used an eSIM before.

During the setup process, you will be asked to transfer your SIM card from your old iPhone to your new iPhone. This is also the process you will use if you transfer an existing eSIM from your old iPhone to your new iPhone 14.

  1. 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.
  2. 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 that appears on your new iPhone.
  3. Wait for the cellular plan to activate on your new iPhone. Your previous SIM card is deactivated when your new iPhone’s cellular plan activates.
  4. If a banner appears on your new iPhone that says Finish setting up your carrier’s cellular plan, tap it. You will be redirected to your carrier’s webpage to transfer your eSIM. If you need help, contact your carrier.

Option 2: Use a QR code from your operator

Some carriers do not support what Apple calls “eSIM Quick Transfer”. If so, you will need to scan a QR code from your carrier to activate the eSIM inside your iPhone 14. When you reach the “Set up Cellular” screen in the iPhone 14 setup process , there will be an option to use a QR code.

This will walk you through the process of scanning the QR code provided by your carrier to activate your iPhone 14 eSIM. The process of obtaining this QR code varies from carrier to carrier.

Option 3: Convert a physical SIM card to eSIM with your current iPhone

If you want to get a head start on the transition to eSIM, you can convert your current iPhone’s physical SIM card to eSIM. From there, you can transfer that eSIM to your new iPhone 14 when it arrives.

  1. On your iPhone, go to Settings > Cellular.
  2. Tap Convert to eSIM. If you don’t see this option, you’ll need to contact your carrier.
  3. Tap Convert Cellular Plan.
  4. Choose Convert to eSIM.
  5. Wait for your eSIM to activate. Once this operation is completed, your old SIM card is deactivated.
  6. Remove the physical SIM card and restart your iPhone.

The 9to5Mac perspective: Towards an eSIM-only future

Prior to the iPhone 14 event, there were rumors that Apple was planning to focus more on eSIM technology. There were rumors that Apple might ditch the physical SIM altogether, but the announcement still surprised a lot of people. But keep in mind: Steve Jobs never sought the iPhone to have a SIM card tray.

For more folks, the iPhone 14’s eSIM transition should result in the same, if not better, experience as a physical SIM card. It won’t be as dramatic a lifestyle change as the removal of the headphone jack with the iPhone 7. The question, of course, is how seamless the process is to get to that point. Although Apple has outlined the transition process, a number of variables are at play.

My biggest concern is this: could carriers be overloaded and encounter activation issues on the launch day of the iPhone 14? Presumably, the transition of millions of people to eSIM is more tedious than users who simply swap their SIM card from their old iPhone to their new iPhone.

Remember the days when we had to plug our iPhones into iTunes to activate them? Apple’s servers could prove unreliable during this process, but AT&T’s activation process was notoriously finicky. Could eSIM configurations and provisioning cause similar headaches?

iPhone 14 eSIM

Another concern of mine is that it could potentially empower carriers. They could implement user-unfriendly restrictions and make it harder to switch to a competing network. They might charge an additional “activation” fee. US carriers are known for pushing the limits of what smartphone users are willing to put up with, so this will be something to watch.

But even if there are some bumps in the transition to eSIM, the end result will be much more convenient for (most) users. For example, he should make the process of changing carriers much easier. It also means there’s 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.

When it comes to overseas 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 eSIMs. This could pose 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 run, I’m curious to see what removing the SIM card tray means for the design and durability of the iPhone. The removal of the headphone jack with the iPhone 7 paved the way for improved water resistance and the all-new design of the iPhone X a year later.

What do you think of the iPhone 14 only supporting eSIMs in the US? Is Apple making this change too soon? Let us know in the comments.

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