The new iPhone XS and XS Max have two SIM features, with a special edition for the Chinese market that contains a SIM tray containing two physical cards. For users outside China, however, the new iPhone devices will support eSIM. Although there are many benefits to eSIM, the following technology has not seen broad adoption yet.
Only nine countries offer eSIM support right now: Austria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, India, Spain, UK, and the United States. Sprint and smaller US operators do not offer eSIM support, which means that customers must switch to T-Mobile, Verizon or AT & T to enjoy that feature.
% of smartphones that are dual SIM cards in selected countries, 3Q17-2Q18
United Kingdom 29%
Source: IDC Mobile Phone Tracker, 2Q18
– Bryan Ma (@bryanbma) September 11, 2018
In China, Apple's special dual SIM trays will bypass the need for eSIM compatibility , as China has very little of anyway. Both major carriers, China Telecom and China Mobile, have introduced eSIM support in a few cities, except Beijing. Instead, the new iPhones will have two physical SIM cards, as many Android phones are already doing in China. The feature will be immediately available, while in the rest of the world, users must wait for Apple to send out the eSIM software update later this fall.
Electronic SIM card eliminates the need to point a pin through the SIM tray to replace a physically small piece of plastic. Instead, eSIM, which supports built-in SIM cards, only needs a compatible network or an operator to provide support. Both XS and XS Max still have a physical nano SIM card slot for the second SIM support.
Apple first brought eSIM to Apple Watch Series 3, which led to speculation that eSIM would give an appearance in the iPhone. Leading the official iPhone XS announcement, two SIM card support was thought to be a growth game to attract customers in markets like India, the Philippines and China. Dual SIM card support makes traveling international more convenient since you can keep two numbers active at the same time. Develop markets have used two SIM cards to avoid roaming charges, easily exchange carriers and enjoy other discounts to use two lines simultaneously.
Although eSIM support may be small, it can radically change the way US mobile operators offer smartphone plans. eSIM support will make it easier for customers to swap businesses – and perhaps too easily: earlier this year, the US Department of Justice began investigating AT & T, Verizon and mobile industry GSMA for possible interaction to keep users from swap devices with eSIM support. With eSIM support now on iPhones, we can begin to see operators struggling who can slash prices more, just like when Verizon reintroduced an unlimited data plan that led competitors to review their offers.