Hello eSIM: Apple moves the iPhone away from physical SIMs

Throw away your ejector pins and paper clips, iPhone users.

On Wednesday, Apple announced that its new iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max will use an eSIM—a purely electronic SIM that allows users to maintain a secondary phone line in a single device. That line could be a secondary domestic line (say you’re a journalist and don’t want to have separate personal and work iPhones) or could have an American and Canadian number (if you travel across the border frequently).

These handsets will have a new “dual SIM dual standby” option, one of which will be a nano SIM. In other words, they will have two distinct phone numbers. (Chinese models will have two SIM slots instead of the eSIM option.)

Since their debut in 1991, traditional, physical SIM cards have decreased dramatically in size. eSIMs have already been around for nearly a year, since they were introduced into the Apple Watch and Google Pixel 2, among other devices.

The tiny, reprogrammable SIM card—at just 6 millimeters by 5 millimeters—is soldered onto the iPhone’s motherboard directly.

Earlier this year, reported that the Department of Justice was investigating whether AT&T and Verizon colluded to make it tougher for customers to switch carriers—a move that Apple did not like.

As someone who previously tried numerous foreign and domestic providers and has swapped SIMs more times than I can count, this is a welcome development—it will make switching carriers easier.

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