Apple have just released their flagship iPhone 14 line for 2022 and along with it has come the announcement that the USA model will no longer feature a sim card tray and rely entirely on esim technology.
This has left many USA citizens scrambling to order their iPhones from Canada in order to keep sim card functionality a little longer, especially prevalent for those who travel and cannot rely on roaming from a USA carrier.
Anyway, what is an esim and why is it different from a sim card? An esim is a virtual sim card which is entirely electronic, thus the e in esim. Simply put instead of a physical sim card which gives the phone an identifying number in order to connect to the phone network, the esim provides the number digitally and can be added or removed without physically obtaining a sim card, often relying on the carrier pushing out an esim to the device or the user scanning a QR code to active the esim.
Here in Australia there have been a number of telcos adopt esim however their implementations are often less than desirable with few offering the ability to download an esim direct from their apps. Sometimes it is possible with a new connection but swapping to esim after the initial setup can be cumbersome. You can find a list of providers in Australia with esim support here if you’re curious.
Internationally the adoption rate is much lower with smaller carriers being years off ever supporting esim. Take for example smaller nations with around half a million subscribers such as PNG which has barely made it to 3G technology. Likewise there are countries which only allow esim for postpaid customers preventing their use by tourists. Even those that do offer them to tourists may still require you to visit a store to have your identity recorded before providing an esim.
Still there are benefits to be had with many phones allowing you to store multiple esims that are not in use that can be easily activated when needed (most phones only allow 1 or 2 esims to be active at once) which is far easier to manage than a zip lock bag full of international sim cards hidden in your passport wallet.
With any luck Apple’s push to esim technology will force carriers around the globe to rethink their strategies towards esim. In an ideal world it would be possible to sign up for a tourist esim before visiting overseas so you can just activate it and hit the ground running when landing on your holiday or being able to keep an esim active for your home country to make it easier for services and family to get in touch.
Let’s see what 2022 in store for esim and hope that 2023 really takes off with it’s world wide adoption.
Here’s to a technologically convenient future.