eSIM-only from now on in the US

The iPhone 14 won’t contain a SIM tray in the US; if you’re on a primary carrier, that’s probably fine. The new iPhone 14 lineup will send without physical SIM trays — but eSIM only in the US.

Of course, they’ll be able to operate two eSIMs at once (and store more than that), but is the absence of a physical tray a significant deal? And is it user-hostile and silly?

First, they’re SIM cards, a refresher on eSIMs: but electronic, not physical. That indicates your phone can be provisioned remotely — no more moving to a store to get a physical SIM. In addition, it will make it easier (in some ways) to exchange networks or try one out — T-Mobile now employs eSIMs to allow people to test-drive its network for up to three months.

As of iOS 16, you can even transmit your eSIM between iPhones via Bluetooth, which should complete it almost as efficiently as a physical SIM — as long as you remain in the Apple ecosystem.

Most major US carriers, and numerous worldwide, contain eSIM support, and iPhones have supported them since 2018, including the capacity to use two SIMs at once. Until the iPhone 13, which signified one eSIM and one physical SIM, the iPhone 13 family oriented the ability to use two eSIMs simultaneously. Dismissing the physical SIM — and the spot in the case it requires — is the next logical step. At least for Apple and in the US — the iPhone 14 still contains a SIM tray everywhere else.

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

But whether you are on a carrier that doesn’t hold eSIM support or intend to switch to one, you shouldn’t get the iPhone 14 right now. However, you might not have to stay too long; this could be the stimulus for smaller carriers needing to get on board with eSIMs.

At the launch event, Apple representatives said that the iPhone 14 and 14 Pro could store at least eight eSIMS, with two active. Global eSIM reseller Airalo says earlier iPhones could hold five to 10, relying on the model.

It could take some of the stings out of the beating of the physical SIM tray, though not all international carriers support eSIMs. (If you haven’t used Airalo and can’t vouch for them, providing a local eSIM when traveling abroad remotely could remove the hassle of finding a local SIM.)

Having more than one active SIM is excellent for frequent travelers, people who live in areas where any network has spotty coverage or folks who have separate work and personal numbers. For example, you bought your iPhone 11 when you lived in the Netherlands. It includes both a Dutch eSIM and a physical Verizon SIM. That meant you could use a local SIM in Europe or the US without losing access to your other number or messing with your iMessage or WhatsApp settings.

Physical SIMs make it effortless to bring your phone to a different carrier or get your number to a new phone. They’re universal, work on all phones, and are easy to use (though also easy to lose; ask me how you know). As a result, many of your co-workers are not psyched about failing the SIM slot. On the other hand, moving an eSIM from an iPhone to an Android phone isn’t necessarily trivial. Removing the SIM tray is essential for most people; most people do not switch carriers or phones every few weeks. But that relies on how easy providers make it to install and migrate eSIMs across platforms