Apple is ditching physical SIM trays. Here’s what you need to know

At its well-attended press event this week, Apple revealed that it is discontinuing physical SIM cards and trays from its new iPhone 14 line in the US. In its place, the company is adopting a digital alternative known as eSIM.

A SIM card is a unique identifier in every mobile phone that allows the device to connect to wireless networks in order to send text messages and make calls. An eSIM refers to an “embedded” SIM card or card wired into the phone itself. People tend to switch SIM cards when changing plans or when traveling abroad and looking to use another service provider during their trip.

Apple first rolled out eSIM support to iPhones in 2018, with the promise of making it easier for customers to activate their cellular plans and use multiple phone numbers and carriers for the same device.

Now Apple is doubling down on that feature by entirely removing the infrastructure to support physical SIM cards on the iPhone 14.

“With eSIM, you can quickly transfer an existing cellular plan or get a new cellular plan, all digitally,” Kaiann Drance, Apple’s vice president of iPhone marketing, said at the event on Wednesday.

Drance also touted how eSIM cards can make devices “more secure”, noting that “someone cannot remove the physical SIM card if your iPhone is lost or stolen”.

The Federal Communications Commission also states that eSIMs have “significant security benefits”. Some bad actors have been known to steal a physical SIM card and swap it into another phone to access someone’s information and reset their accounts, according to the federal agency. An eSIM card can reduce this risk because it “cannot be stolen without stealing the phone”.

In theory, removing the SIM card slot could have another benefit: leaving more room for bigger batteries or other features on the phone. That’s no small thing for a company like Apple that is always trying to make its devices thinner.

While the ditching of the SIM card slot might not be as polarizing as Apple’s decision to ditch the headphone jack, it has already caused some grunts on social networks.

Frequent international travelers in particular are used to changing physical SIM cards in different locations and may travel to places where carriers do not yet support the use of eSIMS. In mainland China, for example, eSIM functionality on the iPhone 14 is currently not offered.


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