With the announcement of the iPhone 14 lineup at Apple’s Far Out event today, Apple is finally going all-in on eSIM technology. People in the United States who want to splurge on the iPhone 14 or iPhone 14 Pro will no longer be able to get handsets with a physical SIM card. Apple claims that eSIM usage has skyrocketed in its home market in recent years, which prompted the company to abandon the physical SIM slot.
According to the company, the iPhone 14’s eSIM facility has already received support from all major carriers, including AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. For those unfamiliar with the technology, an eSIM system does not require the plastic-and-metal SIM card to store network configuration data and connect to the supported carrier’s cellular airwaves. Instead, there is a non-removable chip embedded directly in the device.
However, because the data stored on an eSIM is rewritable, you can always switch carriers without the hassle of obtaining a new physical SIM from your new carrier. Depending on the carrier, all it takes is a few phone calls or online tech support to complete the eSIM carrier switch without users having to leave their homes. The iPhone 14 models, which start at $799, will allow users to save multiple eSIM configuration profiles on the same device.
The change is very controversial
Apple claims that users can store multiple eSIM profiles on an iPhone and that they won’t need a Wi-Fi signal to switch, with all transfers (including carrier plans) taking place digitally. eSIM is a godsend for people who want to use two mobile numbers, one for personal and one for business. It greatly simplifies the process of obtaining a temporary local carrier connection while traveling abroad. However, it is unclear whether Apple will extend the eSIM-only policy to other markets, particularly in Asia, where dual-SIM iPhone models have long been popular.
In terms of hardware, the absence of a physical SIM means fewer moving parts. To keep dust and water away from a SIM slot, an OEM no longer needs to fiddle with rubber gaskets and other contraptions. Another benefit is that there is slightly more internal space for other components, which can now be used to install a slightly larger battery or a more efficient heat sink.
However, there are some risks. A physical SIM card can store your contacts, but if your eSIM-only phone is damaged or bricked, your contact data is lost unless it is backed up in the cloud. In contrast, if your cloud account is hacked, you can’t simply walk away by removing your physical SIM card. Furthermore, if you’re concerned about surveillance and location privacy, an eSIM doesn’t provide the same level of assurance as a physical SIM that can be easily inserted and removed.