By Jon Cohen:
With this year's iPhone announcement, Apple is forcing cell carriers to use eSIM technology, once again pushing the smartphone world, as well as the whole cellular industry, forward.
A SIM card (also known as a subscriber identity module) is a little piece of plastic provided by your cell phone carrier that has a chip programmed with your phone number and other vital information. They have been in use for years, allowing phone and internet network connections, storing critical data, and are easily removable and transferable. The downside is that SIM cards can often get damaged, stolen, or worn out.
Like many times before, Apple is looking to the future and not holding on to the past. Starting with iPhone 14, Apple has removed the SIM tray and gone to an eSIM. eSIMs are used all over the world and make adding multiple phone numbers on one device simple.
Adding an eSIM for most carriers is as simple as scanning a QR Code (the same type of code that has become a common procedure in restaurants as a simple and easy way to pull up the menu). In the case of your phone, adding an eSIM via QR Code is a matter of going to the phone’s settings, selecting “add a phone line,” and taking a photo of the code. Besides being super quick and easy, it is also very convenient.
eSIMs have been an option with phones for several years, and both Apple and Android have always offered the standard SIM card along with an eSIM option. This year signals a change, with eSIM technology seemingly here to stay, and I won’t be surprised if Android manufacturers follow Apple’s lead.
So Why Go to eSIM Only?
This change is a signal to cell phone carriers that the technology landscape is changing, and Apple wants all carriers to make eSIMs the future. eSIMs help reduce the chances of “SIM jacking,” a process in which a thief will pull out the SIM card from the phone and just stick it in another one, thus stealing your phone number, text messages, and access to those “one-time” codes that are common with most major banks.
Another benefit to using eSIMs is that you can easily switch from one carrier to another. Therefore, if you want to just move the phone number to a different carrier, you can. No need to be locked into one carrier anymore!
When you travel, you no longer have to find a SIM card from a local carrier (secondary provider); now you can just buy a cellular plan, scan the eSIM QR Code, and you are connected to a local carrier. Also, this means you can still get calls and messages from your primary cell provider.
All-in-all Apple’s move means eSIMs are here to stay. Soon all phones and carriers will have to offer eSIMS or risk losing customers.
Note that outside the U.S., Apple still offers iPhone 14 with an option for a SIM tray.
Jon Cohen’s contributions can be found on radio, TV, and print media. Jon makes “geek speak” understandable for the masses and has been a voice in the tech community for over 20 years. A former “Geek Squad” member as well as an “Apple Genius,” he offers a fresh perspective on technology, photography, and social media. Twitter: @cohenHD