iOS

The iPhone 14 does not have a SIM card tray in the US

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The new iPhone 14 lineup comes without physical SIM trays, but only in the US. They can use two eSIMs at once (and store more than that), but is the lack of a physical tray a big deal? And is it user-hostile and stupid?

First, a refresher on eSIMs: they’re SIM cards, but electronic, not physical. That means your phone can be provisioned remotely — no more going to a store to buy a physical SIM card. This makes it (in some ways) easier to switch networks or try one out – T-Mobile now uses eSIMs to let people test the network for up to three months. As of iOS 16, you can even transfer your eSIM between iPhones via Bluetooth, which should make it almost as easy as a physical SIM card – as long as you stay in the Apple ecosystem. Naturally.

Most major US carriers, and many worldwide, have eSIM support, and iPhones have been supporting them since 2018, including the ability to use two SIM cards at once. Until the iPhone 13, that meant one eSIM and one physical SIM; the iPhone 13 family introduced the ability to use two eSIMs at the same time. Removing the physical SIM card – and the hole in case it needs it – is the next logical step. At least for Apple, and at least in the US – the iPhone 14 still has a SIM card tray everywhere.

If you’re on a major US cell phone network — AT&T, Verizon, or T-Mobile — the lack of a physical SIM tray probably won’t affect you much. Even if you change carriers or switch phones, you can download an eSIM directly from Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile without going to a store.

But if you have a carrier that doesn’t have eSIM support or if you’re planning to switch to an eSIM, then you shouldn’t buy the iPhone 14 right now. You may not have to wait too long; this could be the push smaller carriers need to get on board with eSIMs.

(Outside the US, the iPhone 14 lineup still includes nano-SIM slots.)

At the launch event, Apple spokespersons told The Verge that the iPhone 14 and 14 Pro can store at least eight eSIMS, up to two of which are active at the same time. Global eSIM reseller Airalo says previous iPhones could hold five to ten, depending on the model. This could take some of the sting out of losing the physical SIM tray, although not all international carriers support eSIMs. (I haven’t used Airalo and can’t vouch for it, but if I can remotely provide a local eSIM when traveling abroad, the hassle of finding a local SIM could go away.)

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