All About iPhone eSIM: What Is It? How to Activate It?

Apple has got people talking again with the introduction of the iPhone 14 lineup.  Besides cool features such as the dynamic island and an improved and quicker A16 chip, Apple had one more to introduce; eSIM-only.

Apple has supported eSIM technology for some time now, but for the first time in its history, it has released an iPhone without a SIM card slot. WipeLock explains everything you need to know about eSIM technology on iPhones.

Part 1. What Is an eSIM on iPhones?

Embedded Subscriber Identify Module, commonly known as eSIM, is a programmable SIM card built into a device’s motherboard. Simply put, eSIM is your regular SIM card with a similar chip and functionalities, but instead of a removable plastic case, it’s now permanently fixed into your iPhone’s motherboard.

eSIM technology is not a new thing, and it’s not the first time Apple has used it on its devices, either. Apple first implemented the eSIM technology on iPhone XS, and since then, every new iPhone has had the technology alongside nano SIM card slots.

Introduced almost a decade ago, eSIM technology has seen steady growth, with famous smartphone brands embracing it as an optional feature. Apple’s decision to have iPhone 14 models exclusively use eSIM just boosted its growth.

Part 2. How Do eSIMs Work in iPhones?

You know how your regular plastic SIM card works, right? It lets you connect to a network, and when you want to use a different mobile network, you remove it and pop in a new one.

An eSIM works the same way, except you don’t have to remove it every time you want to switch networks (it’s part of your iPhone’s motherboard now). With an eSIM, you only need to download an eSIM profile if your mobile provider supports it, and you’re good to go.

With an eSIM-enabled smartphone, switching mobile providers can be done with one touch of a button. Gone are the days when you had to order a new SIM card, wait for it to arrive, and then start looking for your SIM tray eject pin.

Part 3. How Many eSIMs Can Be Used in iPhones?

According to Apple, earlier iPhone models that use physical SIM cards can support multiple eSIMs at the same time. You can therefore use Dual SIM by enabling the physical sim card and an eSIM.

In iPhone 14, Apple allows you to register a maximum of 8 eSIMs, which you can pick from any time. However, you can only have two eSIMs active at the same time. You can activate any of the eight available eSIMs from the settings.

Part 4. eSIM Compatible iPhone/iPad

Even though it’s been in use for a while now, the number of eSIM-enabled devices isn’t that many. While most people are only aware of eSIM usage on smartphones, the technology can also be found in other devices such as tablets and watches.

iPhone

  • iPhone XR, XS, XS Max and later models

iPad

  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd, 4th and 5th generation)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd generation)
  • iPad (7th, 8th and 9th generation)
  • iPad Mini (5th and 6th generation)
  • iPad Air (3rd, 4th and 5th generation)

Part 5. Mobile Providers That Support eSIM

eSIM technology is picking up fast, and it’s only a matter of time until every mobile provider supports it. Mobile providers currently supporting eSIM include:

Part 6. Pros & Cons of eSIM

Pros

  • Easier to switch mobile networks – instead of ordering and waiting for your new SIM card to arrive, eSIM allows you to change networks by just calling a provider or scanning a QR code, and you’re good to go.
  • More mobile provider options to choose from – iPhone 14 allows you to save up to 8 eSIM profiles that you can select anytime.
  • Dual SIM capability – most iPhone models that support eSIM can have two active eSIMs simultaneously.
  • More physical space for upgrades, fewer openings for dust and moisture
  • Easy tracking of stolen mobile phones

Cons

  • Less privacy – since it can’t be removed, mobile networks can easily track their customers.
  • Hacking – eSIMs may be safe from physical threats, but they are more vulnerable to online attacks.
  • Emergency cases – it takes more time to restore your eSIM profile from the cloud than to remove your SIM card to insert it into another phone.
  • A small selection of smartphones – eSIM technology is available only in expensive devices such as iPhones, Pixel, and Galaxy S and Z series.
  • eSIM-only phones can’t be used in areas without eSIM support.

Part 7. How to Know if My iPhone Has eSIM

All iPhone 14 models sold in the US will only use eSIMs, so you can skip this section if you recently purchased one. However, if you want to confirm if it’s eSIM enabled or want to check if an older iPhone model is eSIM compatible, use the steps outlined below.

Step 1: Open your iPhone’s Settings

Step 2: Navigate to General > About

Step 3: Scroll down until you see “Available SIM”  on iOS 15 and above or “Digital SIM” on iOS 14 and below. Your device is eSIM enabled if you see an IMEI number under these sections.

check iphone esim

Part 8. How to Activate eSIM on iPhones

If you purchased your iPhone from a carrier and provided your mobile plan details, then activating eSIM in your iPhone will be pretty straightforward. After turning on the phone, follow the instructions on the screen to enable eSIM.

However, the process is slightly different from people switching from other phone brands, e.g., Android phones. Two options are available for such cases; activating eSIM through eSIM Carrier Activation or by scanning a carrier QR code.

i) Using eSIM Carrier Activation

Step 1: Contact your carrier to set up eSIM Carrier Activation.

Step 2: Tap and accept when you see the “Carrier Cellular Plan Ready to Be Installed” notification on your screen.

Step 3: Go to Settings, then tap Carrier Cellular Plan Ready to Be Installed.

Step 4: Hit Continue at the bottom of the screen.

Step 5: Remove your physical SIM card after confirming that your eSIM is working, then restart your phone.

ii) Scanning Qr Code From Your Carrier.

You can also scan a QR code to activate eSIM if your mobile provider does not support eSIM Carrier Activation.

While setting up your iPhone…

Step 1: Tap “Use QR Code”  when you reach the “Set Up Cellular” screen.

Step 2: Follow the onscreen instructions to finish setting up eSIM on your iPhone.

After you’ve set up your iPhone…

Step 1: Ask your mobile carrier to send you a QR code.

Step 2: Start your camera app and scan the QR code.

Step 3: Tap the “Cellular Plan Detected” notification when it appears on the screen, then tap Continue again at the bottom of the screen.

Step 4: Tap Add Cellular Plan, then enter the confirmation code provided by your mobile carrier.

Editor’s Comment

eSIM is a fantastic technology, and soon most smartphone brands will join Apple in using eSIM only on their phones. I hope you now have an idea of what eSIM is, how it works, and how to activate it on your phone.

Let us know in the comments section if you have any questions you’d like us to tackle. Cheers!

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About Author

Darren has been passionate about ios devices ever since he got his first iPhone since 2013, while he was still a student in junior high school. He currently uses an iPhone 11 and iPad Pro, and he’s become the go-to guy for many of his friends who have mobile device unlocking-related problems.

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