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Dual-SIM functionality on the new Apple iPhone XS, XS Max and XR: Here's how it works

While the primary SIM slot is a traditional one, using a second number on the devices involves configuring the eSIM.

  • Published: September 19, 2018 4:54 PM IST
Apple iPhone XS eSIM

The new iPhones are just a few days away, and the excitement is building among Apple fans. And while the Android smartphone ecosystem has been on the dual-SIM bandwagon for a while now, Apple has finally adopted the idea for its fans in markets such as China and India, where users tend to have more than one mobile connection. However, unlike most dual-SIM smartphones today, the Apple iPhone XS, XS Max and XR will have an eSIM for connectivity with a second mobile network.

If you’re wondering how this works, we have you covered. We explain what the eSIM is, and how you can configure your mobile connection on it. Read on to find out all you need to know about dual-SIM connectivity on the new Apple iPhone smartphones.

Your primary SIM

As far as your primary number is concerned, the process is as uncomplicated as always. The new iPhones come with a traditional nano-SIM slot where you can insert your existing SIM card from your mobile network operator. Once it’s in, the phone will connect to your network and set-up the configuration on the phone, which will enable calls, SMS and data connectivity immediately.

What about the second SIM?

If you have a second mobile connection that you use right now, you’ll also have a SIM card for it – here’s where it gets tricky. The Apple iPhone XS, XS Max and XR have an eSIM built into the phone, rather than a slot for you to insert your second SIM card. Also worth noting is that Apple is not offering eSIM connectivity at launch, and indeed the new iPhones are to be considered single-SIM phones for the time being.

Once Apple does enable this through a software update, that eSIM built into the phone will be available for configuration. This can be done through the settings, where you can go into the ‘Cellular’ option and choose to add a cellular plan. You will then be able to scan a QR code (provided by your mobile operator) and enter a confirmation code (also provided by your operator), following which your network settings will be directly configured to the in-built SIM on the phone.

Do operators offer eSIM connectivity in India?

While it isn’t widespread for now, Airtel and Jio do offer eSIM connectivity on a limited scale in India. For now, its limited to Apple Watch Series 3 (LTE) connections when you buy the device from either of the two operators. Both of these operators are likely to roll out wider support for eSIM connections when the function is enabled on the new iPhones.  For now, since eSIM isn’t a widely-used connectivity method, support is limited. Most devices continue to rely on traditional SIM cards.

Pros and Cons of eSIM

Now, you might be wondering what the point of an eSIM slot is, considering that the traditional method of physical SIMs is so popular. Indeed, while there are cons to this, there are some pros as well.

Lets start with the good bits. The biggest of these is that eSIM cards built into the phone aren’t limited to just a single mobile connection, and you can configure multiple networks to work on the same eSIM and device. This means that the Apple iPhones will be capable of having more than two connections configured on the device. However, only two of these can be active at any given time, but switching between multiple connections will be possible. The second pro is the relatively indestructible nature of the eSIM. While traditional SIM cards can be damaged or lost, the eSIM is as safe as the phone is.

WATCH: Apple iPhone XS, XS Max and XR First Look

However, where there are pros, there are cons. Where traditional SIM cards are easy to swap and configure whenever you like, eSIM activation will need you to go to your mobile operator for the QR and confirmation codes. Therefore, you won’t simply be able to switch phones whenever you like, and will need to make a trip to your nearest Airtel or Jio store if you want to activate the connection. Additionally, eSIM connectivity is only limited to two operators in India for now, so it won’t work if your second connection is on a network other than Airtel and Jio.

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  • Published Date: September 19, 2018 4:54 PM IST