eSIM Functionality Available in iOS 12.1, But Carrier Support is Required

Apple's iOS 12.1 beta introduces support for the eSIM, aka a digital SIM that lets you activate a cellular plan from your carrier without needing to use a physical SIM card. In the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR, the eSIM pairs with the included nano-SIM to enable dual-SIM functionality.

The eSIM in the new iPhone XS and XS Max was not available at launch, with Apple promising to activate it in a later update, which appears to be iOS 12.1.

dualsimcellularplan
eSIM settings are available by going to the Cellular section of the Settings app and choosing "Add Cellular Plan," which is the method used to add another cellular provider via the eSIM.

All contacts in the Contacts app also now list a "default [P] Primary" setting in iOS 12.1 which lets you change the default phone number that you contact each person with if you have multiple phone numbers.

dualsimcontacts
According to German site iPhone-Ticker.de, some Deutsche Telekom users are able to use the eSIM feature in iOS 12.1 to add two SIMs to their iPhones. Carriers need to implement the eSIM feature before it will work, and Apple offers a list of carriers that plan to offer the eSIM it in a support document.

In the United States, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon plan to offer eSIM support, but the carriers likely won't roll out the feature until iOS 12.1 launches to the public.

Dual-SIM support with the eSIM is useful for people who use two cellular plans at once, such as for home or work, and it is also beneficial when traveling.

As Apple outlines on its website, both numbers used with a dual-SIM iPhone can make and receive voice calls and SMS/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.

Both networks are active at once, however, and with dual-SIM enabled, you will see two carrier signal readings in the Control Center.

appleesim
eSIM support will be available to everyone with an iPhone XS, XS Max (and future XR) when the iOS 12.1 update launches to the public. We've only had one beta of iOS 12.1 so far, so there is still a ways to go.

The iOS 12.1 update also includes support for Group FaceTime for up to 32 people, a new real-time Depth Control slider that can be used when taking Portrait Mode photos, and, with watchOS 5.1, new color watch face options in the Apple Watch app.

Top Rated Comments

0970373 Avatar
40 months ago
There can be multiple email addresses, but only be one number.
This is not true. I have 2 phones on the same iCloud account and both have iMessage enabled. I can get iMessages to my UK# on my US phone and vice versa.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ChromeAce Avatar
40 months ago
It's important to note that as of today the iMessage\Facetime platform only allows you to support one phone number. But with Dual Sim in place there is no reason that they could not change this. You can already support several email address's, I would not be surprised to see them add support for 2 phone numbers.
Not true. iMessage supports multiple phone numbers. Simply sign in to the same iCloud account on multiple phones and all the numbers will be usable in iMessage on all phones signed in.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MrGimper Avatar
40 months ago
Need to provide feedback to Apple that the text under "Enter Activation Code" is badly aligned.....
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
avanpelt Avatar
40 months ago
It will be interesting to see if AT&T locks the eSIM to their network when you choose to activate it with them like they did with the iPad Pro eSIM.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cmwade77 Avatar
40 months ago
All things old are new again, remember old CDMA phones that didn't have SIM cards? This is essentially the same thing with a new name.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TrulsZK Avatar
40 months ago
In comparison to have to iPhones, the main issue for me is that you can not use both SIM cards for iMessage and FaceTime
Today I frequently send iMessages from both iPhones so only being able to send iMessages from one number is a big problem for me

Also for me both iPhones have different apps, email+calendar accounts, contacts, etc
They work independently from each other with no shared/synced data between the iPhones (other than iMessage communication for file transfer).
For this to work properly for me the iPhone should have multiple accounts, similar to accounts on Mac
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

studio buds family

Beats Studio Buds Debuting Today With Active Noise Cancellation, Stemless Design, and More for $150

Monday June 14, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
We've seen a lot of teasers about the Beats Studio Buds over the past month since they first showed up in Apple's beta software updates, and today they're finally official. The Beats Studio Buds are available to order today in red, white, and black ahead of a June 24 ship date, and they're priced at $149.99. The Studio Buds are the first Beats-branded earbuds to truly compete with AirPods...
os x mountain lion macs 16x9 2

Apple Makes OS X Lion and Mountain Lion Free to Download

Wednesday June 30, 2021 12:19 pm PDT by
Apple recently dropped the $19.99 fee for OS X Lion and Mountain Lion, making the older Mac updates free to download, reports Macworld. Apple has kept OS X 10.7 Lion and OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion available for customers who have machines limited to the older software, but until recently, Apple was charging $19.99 to get download codes for the updates. As of last week, these updates no...
iPhone 13 Dummy Thumbnail 2

Kuo: iPhone 13 to Feature LEO Satellite Communications to Make Calls and Texts Without Cellular Coverage

Sunday August 29, 2021 7:39 am PDT by
The iPhone 13 will feature low earth orbit (LEO) satellite communication connectivity to allow users to make calls and send messages in areas without 4G or 5G coverage, according to the reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In a note to investors, seen by MacRumors, Kuo explained that the iPhone 13 lineup will feature hardware that is able to connect to LEO satellites. If enabled with the relevant...
youtube apple tv

YouTube Discontinuing 3rd-Generation Apple TV App, AirPlay Still Available

Wednesday February 3, 2021 3:09 pm PST by
YouTube is planning to stop supporting its YouTube app on the third-generation Apple TV models, where YouTube has long been available as a channel option. A 9to5Mac reader received a message about the upcoming app discontinuation, which is set to take place in March.Starting early March, the YouTube app will no longer be available on Apple TV (3rd generation). You can still watch YouTube on...
General Apps Messages

Android iMessage Competitor Puts Pressure on Apple

Friday July 30, 2021 3:15 am PDT by
Google and the three major U.S. carriers, including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, will all support a new communications protocol on Android smartphones starting in 2022, a move that puts pressure on Apple to adopt a new cross-platform messaging standard and may present a challenge to iMessage. Verizon recently announced that it is planning to adopt Messages by Google as its default messaging...
bluetti eb70 main

MacRumors Giveaway: Win a Bluetti EB70 Portable Power Station and 200W Solar Panel

Friday September 3, 2021 11:13 am PDT by
For this week's giveaway, we've teamed up with MAXOAK to offer MacRumors readers a chance to win a Bluetti portable power station and an accompanying solar panel. Bluetti makes a range of portable power station options that are useful for camping, emergencies, power outages, off-grid living, and similar situations. The Bluetti EB70 is a solid middle of the road option that offers 716Wh and...
personal hotspot 1

Apple Acknowledges Personal Hotspot Issues Affecting Some iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 Users

Saturday March 21, 2020 10:04 am PDT by
In an internal document distributed to Apple Authorized Service Providers this week, obtained by MacRumors, Apple has acknowledged that some iOS 13 or iPadOS 13 users may experience issues with Personal Hotspot. Apple has told Authorized Service Providers to expect customers who are unable to connect to a Personal Hotspot or experience frequent disconnection from one. Customers may also...
iphone 13 teal with text

Apple Begins Preparation for iPhone 13 Production Ahead of Fall Launch

Monday June 28, 2021 3:29 am PDT by
We're just a few months away from when Apple is expected to reveal the 2021 iPhone, dubbed the "iPhone 13." In preparation for its launch, it has been pulling in shipments of different components needed to produce the new iPhones, according to a report from DigiTimes. In years past, Apple released its latest iPhone lineup, alongside a new Apple Watch, during a September event at Apple Park....
General Spotify Feature

Spotify Partners With Delta to Provide Free In-Flight Music and Podcasts Service

Thursday September 2, 2021 12:59 am PDT by
Spotify has announced a new partnership with Delta that will see the streaming service take over the "audio" section of Delta's in-flight seatback entertainment, making select playlists and podcasts freely available to all passengers. You are now free to roam about the cabin—and get the music and podcasts you love at 30,000 feet. Beginning today, we're taking off in a new partnership with...