We’ve been hearing for a while that eSIMs (embedded SIMs) may soon replace physical SIM cards, and now it sounds a lot like the iPhone 14 could be the phone that starts this transition, as some versions will be sold without a removable SIM card.
This according to Wall Street Journal (opens in new tab), and means that a subset of the 2022 iPhone family will potentially be dependent on just one eSIM. Instead of taking a tray out of the side of the phone and inserting a physical SIM card, an eSIM is a digital SIM built into the phone and cannot be removed; therefore, when changing carriers/networks, a new number is just programmed into it, instead of having to insert a physical card.
However, this change is unlikely to be enforced on you if you buy an iPhone 14. Instead, the eSIM-only variants of the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Pro, iPhone 14 Pro Max, and iPhone 14 Max should be offered alongside models that support eSIM and physical SIM card.
It would then be up to the telcos and stores to decide whether to stock the eSIM-only versions along with the standard versions or not. There doesn’t seem to be an expectation that any carrier will only store eSIM-only versions, so you’re likely to have the choice regardless of which cellular carrier you use.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard a complaint like this, and there are clear advantages to moving to eSIM-only devices. They take up less space on phones, freeing up space for larger batteries or other technologies. eSIMs can also support multiple networks, so you can still essentially have a dual-SIM phone that relies solely on eSIM technology.
Also, changing the network with an eSIM is theoretically a faster and more agile process than the method with physical SIM cards. And eSIMs can be patched more easily, with security updates shipped on a much larger scale than is possible with physical SIM cards.
So they’re probably the future, and if any company is positioned to spur their mass adoption, it’s Apple.
Analysis: There needs to be some motivation
Offering eSIM-only models of the iPhone 14, along with versions that have both an eSIM and a physical SIM, makes sense in some ways. Apple has long offered the latter with iPhones, so it’s clear the company is interested in eSIMs, and offering an eSIM-only version as an option would help increase the popularity of this newer technology without forcing people to make a change.
However, it is a step that can be very small as well, unless it comes with other advantages. If customers have the option of a phone that only supports eSIM or one with a physical SIM slot as well, why would they choose the former unless it is also cheaper or has other immediate perks?
In most cases, they probably don’t. Apple is unlikely to take advantage of the space savings that eSIM-only devices allow when the model is just a variation of a phone that typically has a physical SIM, and at the moment most of the other perks that eSIMs offer aren’t being implemented either. taken advantage of. , notably due to the lack of carrier support.
So while the introduction of an eSIM-only iPhone could help with user adoption, on its own it doesn’t look like it’s ready to make much of an impact. Hopefully, Apple will do more to encourage people to embrace an eSIM-filled future, leading to a point where all the best phones are eSIM-only.