Apple to release eSIM only iPhones?
The rumor mill has been buzzing this week as confidential sources close to Apple have confirmed that the American tech giant is looking to phase out the SIM tray on the new iPhone 15 by opting to switch to a fully digital embedded SIM format.
According to sources close to Apple, this is still in the early stages of discourse and debate with initial talks of phasing the virtual SIM into existing iPhone models as early as September of 2022, and fully with the release of the iPhone 15 in 2023.
Reporter on Apple insights, @dylandkt, corroborated these reports earlier this year - stating:
"I was able to confirm with sources that Apple will be working to remove the Sim Card Tray sooner than later. It won’t happen this year but internally they are testing an undisclosed iPhone model with only esim. #Apple#iPhone"
Reasonably, you might be asking - What's an eSIM? How will this work? Is this a good idea? Perhaps this digital SIM is just the solution we're looking for.
What's an eSIM?
In short: eSIM stands for an "embedded" SIM card.
Traditionally, to activate data on your phone or mobile device, you'd need to insert, or swap, a SIM card into your SIM tray.
That's the old way - and it's slow! With an eSIM, because the embedded SIM chip is soldered into your device, now you can download data plans directly to your phone.
This means that with a fully digital wireless network experience, you no longer have to:
- Manage multiple cards while traveling
- Waste plastic on used SIMs
- Wait for replacement SIMs to be delivered
- Have to find a SIM vendor in a foreign country
- Risk losing your SIM card
The upside is huge! You can also rest easy knowing that anything a SIM card can do an eSIM can do as well (If not better).
- Use your mobile network for local data
- Cellular service to call, contact and remain connected to other phones and devices (Will vary across networks)
- Screen, scan, store, search, activate, and download data to your device
- Keep your number while still being able to switch your phone line
- Never have to worry about being hit with roaming charges
- Activate your eSIM plan with a QR code instead of inserting a chip
- Tap the Airalo app to switch your data plan to a local, continental, or international plan
- Max usage by choosing subscriptions to shorter plans all the way to longer plans (based on need)
While Apple is taking the initiative to make all their iPhones eSIM capable, other phone manufacturers have been taking the initiative to make their devices eSIM capable as well.
We made a list of every eSIM compatible device, and you can find it here.
How will this work?
Herein lies the biggest concern - are we ready for this technology?
In the short term; probably not. In the long term; I don't think it will matter.
Here's what I mean: Apple has been a trendsetter in phone innovation before, and the market quickly followed suit.
In the early 2010s (not even a decade ago) the idea of using wireless headphones was pretty niche. Conventional thinking said: "well, headphones have always been wired, my device has a headphone jack, if it ain't broke, why fix it?". Make sense, right?
Then a few years back, Apple decided to not make sense and made phones that didn't include a headphone jack. This saw the creation of the Air Pods.
Initial criticism saw this as counter-productive and a gimmick. "Now I won't be able to use my wired headphones!". But the practical application became apparent quite fast.
Now, phones didn't need to include a headphone jack on the device and could be redesigned and streamlined to be more efficient. Notably, I've also found that the wireless headphone experience to better than wired.
I don't have tangled wired headphones in my pocket and listening is easier without a cable connecting to my pocket.
So I ask you - do we REALLY need a SIM tray? To me, it seems a lot easier to download any data plan that makes sense for your needs, instead of taking chips in and out of your device.
I mean, we don't use floppy disks anymore to load files - so why do it for data?
Is this a good idea?
The biggest problem that eSIM technology faces is having enough eSIM supported devices available to use it. Right now, the physical SIM card is the conventional form of cellular service and the tray is its vessel.
Is it a bad idea for Apple to insist carriers should transfer their services to the digital eSIM?
It will certainly be an adjustment period, but without a doubt, the shift to eSIM is inevitable.
This is how every form of technology has evolved, analog will always go digital.
Remember, this was the same argument against removing the CD/DVD trays on laptops and computers. But ultimately, having a more efficient and digital device is something we get to enjoy as consumers.
Music used to require portable players to play cassettes, then CDs, then downloading, and now you can stream any music from an app on your phone.
Ultimately - the digital experience makes content more accessible, universal, and efficient.
As eSIM technology becomes the new norm, we're excited to see the shift from conventional archaic SIM trays to fully digital SIM service.
When you travel, every hour of your trip is important! With eSIMs you won't have to waste time finding a vendor in a new country, or keep track of all the SIMs you're carrying - just download and go.
And by the way, do you still have a SIM eject tool? I don't. I look forward to the day I never have to use one again.