New Cellular iPads Include 'Apple SIM' in U.S. and U.K. for Multi-Carrier Compatibility

Historically, users purchasing cellular versions of iPads have had to choose their carrier at the time of purchase, with Apple shipping a device specifically configured for use on that carrier. But with the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, Apple is launching a new "Apple SIM" included with devices purchased in the United States and United Kingdom.

For U.S. users in particular, the Apple SIM allows users to easily move among AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint by taking advantage of short-term data plans as needed. And with EE participating in the UK, even access while abroad is simplified. And of course the system should work equally well for UK customers traveling abroad to the United States.

Apple outlines the Apple SIM on its iPad Air 2 wireless feature page:
One SIM. Many options.

The new Apple SIM is preinstalled on iPad Air 2 with Wi-Fi + Cellular models. The Apple SIM gives you the flexibility to choose from a variety of short-term plans from select carriers in the U.S. and UK right on your iPad. So whenever you need it, you can choose the plan that works best for you — with no long-term commitments. And when you travel, you may also be able to choose a data plan from a local carrier for the duration of your trip.
Apple notes in an explanatory pop up on its iPad Air 2 store page that Verizon is not a participating carrier and Verizon customers will need to visit Verizon stores to activate cellular service on their devices.

Related Roundups: iPad mini 5, iPad

Top Rated Comments

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69 months ago

That is huge and awesome!
And it's cross country!

They should bring it to the iPhone, just for the possibility of choosing a prepaid carrier abroad (for unlocked iPhones).

But I don't think that all carriers (just like Verizon) will participate because it makes it too easy to switch to another carrier.
Rating: 14 Votes
69 months ago

No, there is no removable SIM tray from now on. If you bought the Apple Sim you will not be able to bring it to Verizon and other non participating carriers. You should complain to Verizon directly.

Are you being sarcastic? This is false. Apple's website says you can swap in a Verizon SIM from a Verizon store.
Rating: 7 Votes
69 months ago

Sooo, how does that work exactly, for Verizon and other non-participating carriers? is there a SIM slot where an alternate SIM can be installed?

I'd guess it works like iPads do now. You take out the current SIM card and put in one for your new carrier.
Rating: 7 Votes
69 months ago
weird, in germany u just bought the "wifi + data" model and put whatever sim in
Rating: 5 Votes
69 months ago

Nobody should be taking pictures with tablets anyways.
I don't see why the iPad needed slo mo and panorama mode.

Oh BS. I'm tired of reading this. I take pics and videos of my grandkids with my iPad all the time. A) because it's usually nearest, and B) they love to see themselves immediately on a big screen.

And I'm quite sure my granddaughter (she's 7) will love to watch a slo-mo of herself trying to stand on her head.

We have great fun with it and frankly it's one reason I buy iPads. So just because you don't use the camera doesnt mean a lot of people don't.
Rating: 4 Votes
69 months ago
Can Verizon be any more douchie?
Rating: 4 Votes
69 months ago
Now if only they sold the Apple SIM separately...
Rating: 4 Votes
69 months ago
The store pages say that the new iPad models will still work with any compatible nano SIM.
Rating: 3 Votes
69 months ago

Sooo, how does that work exactly, for Verizon and other non-participating carriers? is there a SIM slot where an alternate SIM can be installed?

Don't get me wrong, I think this is great, but, the lack of carrier buy in is a little irksome.

From the sounds of it there's still a sim card slot it's just that it's no longer pre-installed with a carrier sim. This way Apple can just sell one model of cellular iPads and the user can go to his carrier of choice for a sim card.

So a Verizon user would buy this iPad and go to Verizon for a sim card to get service on it. The Apple Sim is likely only there for activation purposes.
Rating: 3 Votes
69 months ago

I thought Verizon didn't use SIMs?

In terms of Apple devices... they have since the iPhone 4S.

Traditionally CDMA didn't use SIM cards. But LTE is derived from GSM technology, and uses SIM cards. All Verizon LTE devices have them.

(That makes it sort of interesting that the Verizon 4S had a SIM card, since it didn't support LTE. CDMA/EVDO apparently can use a SIM card, but it's not required.)


It's not how often you change, it's that changing is disruptive.

If you buy 30 days of data on the 1st of each month, then have to cancel that plan on the 3rd of a particular month because you're going abroad for a trip, you've just lost 27 days of data that you pre-paid.

I very much doubt that you'd get a refund of any sort.

This wouldn't happen with the current physical SIM model.

The Apple SIM is still a SIM. The scenario you describe is an edge case, but if you foresee it being something you'll encounter, you can still go to AT&T or T-Mobile and get a carrier-specific SIM (and just toss the Apple SIM in a drawer). *And*, you'll still be able to access all four major US networks on a single device, which has never been possible before.
Rating: 2 Votes

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