eSIM in iPhone XS, XS Max and iPhone XR Won't Be Available at Launch, Apple to Activate Later

The new iPhone XS, XS Max, and iPhone XR models all come equipped with support for dual-SIM functionality through the inclusion of a standard nano-SIM slot and an eSIM, a feature that has previously been used in iPad models.

According to Apple's website, eSIM functionality will not be available when the new iPhones launch, with the company instead planning to introduce it later this year through an iOS 12 software update.


Dual-SIM support will allow the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR to support two cellular plans at once. This is useful for people who have two phone numbers for work and personal use and for travel.

Both numbers used with a dual-SIM iPhone can make and receive voice calls and receive SMS and MMS messages, but an iPhone can only use one cellular data network at a time. That means if one number is on a call, a call to the other number will go to voicemail.

There will be a section in the iOS 12 settings to establish a default number and to label both cellular plans that are in use, with Apple outlining these features in a support document. You will be able to easily make and receive calls from both numbers and switch phone numbers for a call.

Not all carriers are going to support eSIM functionality, but in the United States, it will work with Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile devices. Apple has a full list of carriers offering eSIM support on its website.

Dual-SIM functionality will be available in all new iPhone models and it appears to be available in all countries, despite rumors suggesting it could be limited to countries where multiple SIM use is more popular.

eSIMs are not allowed in China, so in this region specifically, Apple is introducing iPhones that support two physical SIMs. Other countries will have devices that support one physical SIM and one eSIM.

Related Roundups: iPhone XS, iPhone XR
Buyer's Guide: iPhone XR (Buy Now)


Top Rated Comments

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1 week ago

Surely it would be more beneficial to customers, and cheaper to produce, the dual SIM card model worldwide.


eSIM makes it easier to change carriers and follow better plan offerings (and prices). You can make a switch any time you want without going to a retail location to do so. Carriers are going to HATE this.
Rating: 5 Votes
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1 week ago
Surely it would be more beneficial to customers, and cheaper to produce, the dual SIM card model worldwide.
Rating: 5 Votes
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1 week ago
Later this year meaning some time in 2019? Just when I thought I was free of two phones, they pull me back in.
Rating: 3 Votes
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1 week ago
It would be incredible if WhatsApp would allow two phone number accounts active in the app simultaneously.

Think there’s a chance?
Rating: 2 Votes
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1 week ago

Surely it would be more beneficial to customers, and cheaper to produce, the dual SIM card model worldwide.


Ultimately, Apple only wants eSims so as not to have to accommodate the SIM tray and mechanism. So, dual sim cards is heading in the wrong direction.

How is this easier than popping in a different SIM?


Not having to deal with a SIM at all is infinitely "easier than popping in a different SIM," technically speaking.
Rating: 2 Votes
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1 week ago

I wish there was a way for them to auto switch between two networks for mobile data. If I lose service on one network, switch to the other network automatically. Like a primary and secondary cellular data option.


Seems silly to pay 2x as much just for the rare occasions you don't have service on one network.
Rating: 2 Votes
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1 week ago

Seems silly to pay 2x as much just for the rare occasions you don't have service on one network.

Not if you have to pay appx US $ 2 for a month of unlimited calls, text and data (capped at 1GB daily before getting throttled) like we do here in India. That too on a prepaid plan, no contracts :)
Rating: 1 Votes
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1 week ago

eSIM makes it easier to change carriers and follow better plan offerings (and prices). You can make a switch any time you want without going to a retail location to do so. Carriers are going to HATE this.

That’s a good point, but maybe that’s just a problem in America? I have no issue going to a supermarket or servo and picking up a $2 SIM card.
Rating: 1 Votes
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1 week ago

Does anyone know if the carriers will still lock you into their network on both SIMs if the phone is not paid for?

I keep an old phone that is paid off, just so I can put a Chinese SIM in when I am in China. I would love to just have one phone, but if I get it on AT&T's Next program, I'm guessing they will still lock the second SIM to only work on their network.

Apple's support document notes that if you want to use two different carriers that the iPhone must be unlocked. So if for example you are on ATT Next (as I am) and want to add a Verizon sim, it's not going to work. Also you can only use 1 CDMA carrier so no Verizon and Sprint.
Rating: 1 Votes
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