A SIM card is a unique identifier in every cell phone that enables the device to connect to wireless networks in order to text and make calls. An eSIM refers to an “embedded” SIM, or a card that is hardwired into the phone itself. People tend to change their SIM cards when they are switching carrier plans or traveling internationally and seeking to use a different service provider during their trip.
Apple first rolled out eSIM support on iPhones in 2018, with the promise of making it easier for customers to activate their cellular plans and to use multiple phone numbers and carriers for the same device.
Now, Apple is doubling down on this feature by doing entirely away with the infrastructure to support physical SIM cards on the iPhone 14.
“With eSIM you can quickly transfer an existing cellular plan or get a new cellular plan, all digitally,” Kaiann Drance, Apple’s VP of iPhone marketing, said at the event Wednesday.
Drance also touted how eSIM cards can make devices “more secure,” noting that “someone can’t remove the physical SIM card if your iPhone is lost or stolen.”
In theory, doing away with the SIM card slot could carry another benefit: allowing more room for larger batteries or other features on the phone. That’s no small thing for a company like Apple that is always trying to make its devices thinner.
Frequent international travelers, in particular, are used to switching out physical SIM cards in different places and may travel to places where carriers don’t yet support the use of eSIMS. In mainland China, for example, eSIM functionality on the iPhone 14 is currently not offered.