In the US, a physical SIM card cannot be used to activate the iPhone 14 or iPhone 14 Pro. For consumers, that is generally good news.
Apple has eliminated the actual SIM card slot in the iPhone 14 series in the US in favor of eSIMs, so there’s no need to fiddle with the small SIM card tray any longer.
Because the iPhone 14 does not have a nano-SIM slot, for many people the largest change is the end of the time-honored and (sometimes) cumbersome procedure of inserting a real SIM card into a phone to set up or modify a cellular account.
Apple states on its buying page for the iPhone 14 that “iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro models will come ready to activate using eSIM. * Note, these devices cannot activate with a physical SIM.”
Physical SIM cards are history for iPhone 14 users in the US, however, the iPhone 14 in other regions keeps the SIM slot.
However, given that Apple has already done it, it’s possible that producers of Android phones will decide to use the SIM card space, which is usually at a premium in smartphones, for other functions. As a result, you could see the same thing on other devices.
One issue is that, despite the fact that many carriers in the US and throughout the world support eSIM provisioning, not all of them do, as Apple points out. And just a few of them allow users to swap carriers via “eSIM rapid transfer.”
In the US, some smaller and pre-paid carriers as well as AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon enable eSIM activation. Although fewer smaller carriers do so, the main carriers do enable rapid transfer.
Apple’s eSIM support website provides instructions on how to transfer or set up an eSIM via a carrier’s app, a carrier’s QR code, or manually inputting data. Additionally, Apple upgraded iOS 16 to enable Bluetooth eSIM transmission between iPhones.
Another advantage for both consumers and carriers is that eSIM makes it simpler for customers to test out the networks of different service providers and switch if required.
Additionally, unlike in the past, consumers no longer need to physically exchange their SIM card in order to go from 4G to 5G. Instead, a software update can take care of this.
According to Apple, the iPhone 14 can contain up to six eSIMs, two of which can be used simultaneously. The iPhone 14 Pro has eight storage slots. As long as the networks wherever they are going accept eSIMs, the option to utilize numerous eSIMs is helpful for anybody traveling to different countries, but notably for regular international travelers. It’s not a given that (which is probably why this change is only being made for models sold in the US).
However, with Apple making such a big push, it’s likely that many operators who have been hesitant to support eSIMs will feel compelled to do so in the near future.