Thursday, June 13, 2024
Smartphone news

Don’t be afraid of smartphone eSIMs

I learned a good lesson this week about my iPhone.

Instead of a reader asking a question, this week’s topic is one that I bring to the table.

I’ve been testing Apple’s new iPhone 14 Pro for the last few months, and it is time to send it back.

In previous years, this wouldn’t be a problem: Straighten out a paper clip, push it into a hole in the SIM card tray, pop out my SIM card and put it back into my phone.

The age of SIM cards means you can use whatever phone you like, as long as the SIM fits inside.

What is a SIM card? It is a small memory card that contains your phone number. Users are free to take their SIM to any compatible phone and it just works.

For the last few years, Apple and other phone manufacturers along with the cell providers, have introduced a feature called the eSIM, or electronic SIM, which is not a physical SIM at all. Rather, it is a small bit of memory built into the phone’s motherboard that stores the phone number information.

The new eSIMs were an interesting feature, but since I had a SIM card in my phone, I largely ignored them — until this year.

When Apple introduced the iPhone 14 models, it casually announced the phones would only use eSIMs. I didn’t pay a lot of attention to this announcement until my review iPhone 14 Pro arrived and I began the setup.

During the initial setup, I was asked if I wanted to transfer a number to the new phone. I said yes, and I was warned that my phone number would be transferred to the new iPhone’s eSIM and my old SIM card would be deactivated.

It was at that moment I realized I was entering the world of eSIM and I was not fully sure what that meant. I was convinced that in a few months, when it was time to send the phone back to Apple, I’d have to go the AT&T store and get a new SIM card.

Turns out swapping eSIMs is easy. I had forgotten my iPhone 13 Pro Max is eSIM compatible. Transferring the eSIM took about two minutes and didn’t require me to go to the AT&T store or even talk to a support agent. I found all the information on AT&T’s website.

I logged into AT&T’s “Bring Your Own Device” page, then chose to move my number to a new handset.

Both phones need to be connected to Wi-Fi, because the transfer happens online.

The lesson here is to not be afraid of eSIMs. Turns out they are a breeze and almost as easy to move around as a physical SIM.

Jim Rossman is a tech columnist for Tribune News Service. He may be reached at


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