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If you’re a U.S. customer, you may be wondering why you’d want a dual-SIM phone — it just hasn’t taken off here in the States. But in many regions around the world, smartphone owners frequently have two SIM cards (and two cellular lines) installed on their devices.
In India, 98 percent of iPhones are dual-SIM. It’s 92 percent in the Philippines and 90 percent in China. But in the U.S., it’s just 4 percent, according to IDC.
Many of the markets where dual-SIM phones are common are becoming critical for Apple and other handset makers. Because of that, Apple adding dual-SIM capabilities to its own devices was basically an inevitability.
Benefits range from having two phone numbers on a single device (like a work and home number) to being able to easily switch to an international travel SIM. You can read more about the advantages of dual-SIM smartphones here.
Of course, Apple’s dual-SIM capable phones don’t actually have two SIM trays like many Android models do. Instead, the new iPhones will have a single nano SIM slot but can support an additional cellular line through the use of the company’s proprietary eSIM technology.
It’s worth noting that eSIM technology isn’t available in China yet (with a couple citywide exceptions), where dual-SIM smartphones are massively popular. Because of that, Apple is launching an exclusive model with two physical SIM slots in that market.
Other regions will get the eSIM-equipped iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. But at launch, that list of “other regions” isn’t going to be all that big.
Currently, there are only ten countries that support Apple’s eSIM technology:
- Czech Republic
- United Kingdom
- United States
Of course, availability varies depending on your carrier. In the U.S., for example, there are some carriers that don’t support eSIM — namely Sprint and many smaller or regional telecom firms.
For new iPhone owners in China, dual-SIM capabilities will be available at launch thanks to the two physical card slots. But for eSIM-equipped iPhone owners, Apple says the functionality will launch in an update to iOS 12 later this fall.