Death to the SIM

For all the hullabaloo in Apple's announcements last week, one key item was also announced: the iPhone 14 in the US will not come with a spot for a physical SIM card. eSIM, a software-only equivalent, will be the only way to go from now on. Is this a smart move on Apple's part? Eli Blumenthal has some reporting from some carriers that say "absolutely".

"I think it's transformational," Ahmed Khattak, founder and CEO of US Mobile, a mobile virtual network operator that offers service on Verizon and T-Mobile's respective networks. "I think the fact that it even happened ... I'm shaking my head ... because it really democratizes connectivity. It looks a lot like software… It's literally 'you sign up online and you activate.' No different than [when] you sign up for Netflix."

CNET

Having done a trial run of a new cell carrier, I can say from personal experience how nice it was to simply sign up and try a new network within minutes. It is super handy. However, not all carriers yet support eSIM. Further, eSIM is far from ubiquitous overseas, let alone in the US.

For many, the lack of a SIM tray means no more picking up cheap service when traveling and popping the card into the phone. To me, this is why Apple is making it US only for now. They must see eSIM as in a "good enough" position to make a clean break and go forth with a few less components in the phone.

It is telling that Apple is sticking with traditional SIM everywhere else, which leads to something else I saw on Reddit: perhaps Apple is doing this to also discourage US iPhones from being exported out of the country. Gone are the long delays in getting devices in China & people buying them en masse here, simply to ship them out. However, it does make sense that if you want US iPhones to go to US customers, ditching something standard overseas does help with a form of export-proofing.

When Apple makes a change to the iPhone's hardware, it is for good. The SIM tray joins the headphone jack and 30-pin connector as gone for good. My hope is this will do what they are probably hoping to achieve: make eSIM available everywhere for everyone.

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