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Apple iPhone 14 series and eSIMs: How do they work, and everything else answered

Apple has made a big change to the devices being sold in the US. These come without a physical SIM slot and a user will have to rely on an eSIM in order to access mobile networks. Here’s how eSIMs works on the iPhone and what to keep in mind.

With the iPhone 14 series, Apple has made a big change to the devices being sold in the US. These come without a physical SIM slot and a user will have to rely on an eSIM in order to access mobile networks. eSIMs are not something new, they have been around for a while. Nor is Apple the first company to remove the physical SIM slot from its phones. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold, and Z Flip series do not have a physical SIM slot, including the units sold in India and require only an eSIM in order to work. Apple has supported eSIMs for a while (since iPhone XS and above), though dual eSIM support started with the iPhone 12 series. Till now users in the US had the option of using a regular SIM and an eSIM, but now they will have to stick to an eSIM. But what does it mean for users, and is it a bad idea to get an iPhone 14 from the US where the prices are much lower? Well, Apple has answered some of the questions in a detailed FAQ page. Here’s a quick look at what the company is saying.

Apple eSIM: How does it work?

Apple notes that an “eSIM is an industry-standard digital SIM supported by carriers”. It also goes on to add that eSIM will offer more benefits, especially when travelling abroad because if your iPhone is stolen. That’s because the thieves cannot remove the SIM and access that, especially if your iPhone is locked. Apple also notes on another page, that for models bought in the US, the iPhone activates with an eSIM.

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Apple iPhone Settings shows the option to add an eSIM. (Image credit: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

Apple eSIM: How many can you store on iPhone 14 series?

Apple says customers can store eight or more eSIMs on an iPhone 14 series. But a user can have two eSIMs active on supported iPhone models at the same time. So you can store multiple eSIMs but only use two of these at any given time.

Users will be able to swap between active eSIMs by changing selections in Settings. This will be useful when travelling abroad.

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Apple eSIM: What about activating eSIMs when travelling abroad?

This is where the convenience of a physical SIM might be missed. For those travelling abroad, figuring out how to obtain a local eSIM could be a problem. While the existing carrier will likely have international roaming, it will come with extra fees and sometimes the plans might be too expensive. In such cases, a physical SIM appears to have some advantages.

But Apple says that users can purchase an eSIM from a local carrier in the country or region where they are travelling and set it up as well. It adds that some “carriers offer prepaid options that you can purchase from the carriers’ websites or apps before you arrive, or in person after you’ve arrived, through a carrier kiosk at the airport, carrier store or other locations.”

The steps to activate the new eSIM will likely be the same, such as scanning the QR code provided by the carrier or using the carrier’s app. But yes, if you have an iPhone 14 brought from the US, you will need to get a local eSIM when travelling abroad.

Apple also says users can activate two eSIMs at the same time, including the one bought in their country and the other bought abroad. Further,  users can ensure that when travelling abroad, one eSIM is limited to a data-only mode. This could be useful if you don’t want to use your home SIM for data browsing since the charges could be higher.

Users can also turn data roaming on and off on their home eSIM in Settings > Cellular > Cellular Data Options.

Apple eSIM: You bought the iPhone 14 in the US, but plan to use it in India. Will this eSIM be an issue?

If you purchased an unlocked iPhone 14 model in the United States, it will work fine in India. But you will need to put a request for an eSIM at the time of setting up the iPhone and make sure you have the QR code ready to scan. Remember the iPhone 14 series from the US requires an eSIM for activation.

In India, Jio, Airtel and Vi all support eSIM so you are covered. You will need to send a message to the carrier asking them to activate eSIM and they usually send a code which has to be scanned via the new device on which you intend to use the eSIM. Once done, the eSIM should work.

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