You Might Not Be Able to Use iPhone’s eSIM Capabilities Until Later This Year

Esim Dual SIM on iPhone Credit: Justin Meyers / Gadget Hacks
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Apple officially rolled out native eSIM support for 2018 iPhones with the release of its iOS 12.1 software update.

The iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR all support eSIM, which will allow users to store two cellular plans on their devices and use dual-SIM, dual-standby functionality. While not popular in the U.S., it’s a must-have feature in many regions of the world.

But while eSIM is now technically enabled on Apple’s end, the capability also needs to be supported by your carrier. Unfortunately, by the looks of it, that means that you’ll probably have to wait a while before you can use it.

That’s because eSIM will be supported by a limited number of carriers initially. And while the carriers promised eSIM support at launch, they haven’t enabled eSIM quite yet — and actually may not get around to it until late this year.

For example, AT&T is currently advising customers that eSIM activations won’t actually take place until later in 2018. Reportedly, that’s due to “technical issues” related to iOS’s Visual Voicemail feature, AT&T sources told MacRumors.

Verizon is also reportedly holding off, though its delay is apparently due to technical issues that may be related to connectivity performance.

According to PC Mag, if a user activates a third-party eSIM in a device that already sports a Verizon SIM card, that user’s Verizon network connection will be downgraded to a painfully slow 2G CDMA network.

But Verizon said it is currently working with Apple to resolve the performance hit. The telecom firm says it will roll out eSIM support once it’s “confident” that the kinks have been worked out.

Rounding out the “Big 3” telecom firms, T-Mobile isn’t reporting any technical engineering problems with their eSIM support. But that doesn’t mean they’ll roll out the feature anytime soon.

A T-Mobile spokesperson told PC Mag that the company is currently working on eSIM support and will launch it when the “software is ready.”

The fourth major telecom firm in the U.S., Sprint, is not currently on Apple’s list of eSIM-supporting carriers. But Sprint did say that it will launch eSIM support at some point — though there’s no telling how soon that will be.

Of course, it may not be a stretch to say that carriers are also dragging their feet a bit in rolling out eSIM support.

eSIM is a proprietary Apple technology that’s basically a non-physical SIM card. The system has been used in iPads, but the 2018 iPhone lineup marks the first time they’ve been featured in Apple’s handsets.

Combined with the physical card slot on the iPhone XS, XS Max and XR, users will be able to use the eSIM to swap between two phone numbers or cellular plans on a single device.

But while U.S. users will need to wait a bit longer before they can begin using the new dual-SIM feature, other parts of the world are already supporting Apple’s eSIM technology.

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