Like the previous iPhone 14, the iPhone 15 will not come with a physical SIM card slot in the US. Instead, Apple has completely switched to eSIM technology.
While some iPhone users may have already switched to eSIM, such as with the iPhone 14 last year, many users haven’t. Ahead of iPhone 15 orders arriving on Friday, here are some details about Apple’s eSIM support.
What does eSIM mean for iPhone 15?
The iPhone line has supported eSIM technology for many years. The iPhone XS was the first model to feature this technology, and every new iPhone since then has supported eSIM. Each of these iPhone models also had a nano SIM card slot. So, if you don’t want to use an eSIM, you don’t need it.
eSIMs, sometimes called ded SIMs, are still SIM cards, but they are electronically programmed. This means there is no physical SIM card that needs to be inserted into the iPhone or activated. Instead, you sign in using your carrier’s information, and the carrier will remotely provision your iPhone so it can be connected to their network.
Once this process is complete, your iPhone will work the same as with a physical SIM card. It’s also important to note that only iPhone 15 models sold in the US will support eSIM. Models sold in other countries will still have a nano-SIM card slot.
Each iPhone 15 model can store at least eight different eSIM cards and, in some cases, even more. Two can be used at the same time.
Option 1: Set up Fast eSIM Transfer on iPhone 15.
In a support document, Apple explains that you’ll be able to convert your physical SIM card to an eSIM during the iPhone 15 setup process. This can be done even if you’ve never used an eSIM before.
During the installation process, you will be asked to transfer the SIM card from your old iPhone to your new iPhone. This is the process you’ll also use if you’re transferring an existing eSIM from an old iPhone to a new iPhone 15.
Select a cellular plan to transfer from another device. If you don’t see a list of numbers, click “Transfer from another device.” Check the instructions on your previous iPhone to confirm the transfer. To confirm, tap Transfer, or if you’re asked for a verification code, enter the code that appears on your new iPhone. Wait for your cellular plan to activate on your new iPhone. Your previous SIM card is deactivated when you activate a cellular plan on your new iPhone. 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 assistance, contact your carrier.
Option 2: Use your carrier’s QR code.
Some carriers don’t support what Apple calls “fast eSIM transfer.” In this case, you will have to scan your carrier’s QR code to activate the eSIM inside your iPhone 15. When you get to the Cellular Setup screen during the iPhone 15 setup process, you will be given the option to use the QR code.
This will guide you through the process of scanning the QR code provided by your carrier to activate your iPhone 15’s eSIM. The process of obtaining this QR code will vary from carrier to carrier.
Option 3: Convert your physical SIM to an eSIM using your current iPhone.
If you want to speed up your transition to eSIM, you can convert your current iPhone’s physical SIM card to an eSIM. From there, you’ll be able to transfer that eSIM to your new iPhone 15 when it arrives.
On your iPhone, go to Settings > Cellular. Click “Convert to eSIM”. If you don’t see this option, you’ll have to contact your carrier. Click “Convert Cellular Plan.” Select “Convert to eSIM”. Wait for your eSIM to activate. Once this is completed, your previous SIM card will be deactivated. Remove the physical SIM card and restart your iPhone.
If you already have an iPhone 14
And if you already have an iPhone 14, upgrading to the iPhone 15 will be seamless. During the installation process, you will be asked to transfer your eSIM from iPhone 14 to iPhone 15. It will only take a few minutes, and then you will be ready to go.
For most people, switching to eSIM on the iPhone 15 should result in an experience identical to, if not better than, a physical SIM card.
For iPhone 14 buyers last year, the transition to eSIM was relatively painless. Of course, there were some glitches, and some carriers were hit harder than others. With the release of the iPhone 15 later this year, we hope these issues will be addressed even further.
But even if there are some difficulties in switching to eSIM, the result will be much more convenient for (most) users. For example, this should greatly simplify the process of changing telecom operators. This also means there is 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 international travel, the fact that the iPhone 15 can store multiple eSIM cards should make the process easier. The key, however, will be to use a carrier that supports eSIM at all. This could be an issue for travellers using the iPhone 15 from the US in a country where eSIM technology is not as widespread.
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