New iphones will come with e-SIMs, here’s what it means

The three new new iPhones – iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR – introduced yesterday have a special dual-SIM functionality. However this doesn’t work in the traditional manner.

Apple has added digital SIM, more popularly known as e-SIM. The secondary SIM on the iPhones is an eSIM which Apple had first introduced with the Watch Series 3 in India.

What is eSIM?

  • eSIM means Embedded-Subscriber Identity Module.
  • As the name suggests they are ’embedded’ in a device
  • Cannot be physically pulled out like the traditional SIM
  • They are more compact than the conventional SIMs so more efficient, eliminating the fear of mechanical failures.
  • It can be installed in the device beforehand
  • e-SIM is considered to be an important technology for next-generation communication devices like Internet of Things.
  • Can be activated remotely by the telecom service provider. For example to switch from Jio to Airtel or vice versa, a physical card may not be installed inside the device. In India, Airtel and Reliance Jio offer eSIM support. Both the operators have launched special cellular service to support the new network. Apple will also be partnering with these two carriers for eSIM support on iPhones in India.

The first smartphone with e-SIM support was Google Pixel 2 launched in the US.

What functionality does it provide?

It acts as a software-based SIM alongside a physical SIM card. Both are enabled on the iPhone at the same time, correspond to separate phone numbers, and can be set up with two completely different plans.

To set up the eSIM, the carriers will offer a scannable QR code that can be read by the iPhone’s camera, which then configures the eSIM with the required settings.

Users benefit while travelling as they can take advantage of local networks to save on roaming charges, by replacing the physical SIM card while keeping the eSIM for their home carrier. This also enables users to have a business line and a personal line, without needing two mobile devices.

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