Goodbye to SIM cards: how to add an eSIM to an iPhone 14

Goodbye to SIM cards: how to add an eSIM to an iPhone 14

integrated SIM, or is SIM, is a technology that has been available in mobile phones for years. Instead of fiddling with a tiny physical SIM card, you can add a cellular plan electronically through the hardware SIM that’s built into your device. With eSIM on an iPhone, you can add up to eight plans and switch between them, or even use more than one simultaneously.

The iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR were the first iPhone models to offer an eSIM (along with a physical SIM), but the iPhone 14 lineup is the first to offer only a digital SIM, at least in the United States. That means that US customers who buy a iPhone 14, 14 more, 14 professionalsY 14 ProMax you’ll have no choice but to add your primary carrier (and any additional carriers) via an eSIM.

So now that dealing with an eSIM is mandatory, how exactly does this process work? Here’s how to add your primary carrier and any additional lines to your iPhone.

eSIM vs. SIM

physical sim card that is inserted into an iphone

Physical SIM card (Photo illustration by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images)

An eSIM offers certain advantages and disadvantages compared to a physical SIM. Instead of having to deal with a SIM card to activate your main carrier, you can do it yourself from your phone’s cellular settings. An eSIM is also easier to use if you need to set up more than one provider or plan. Instead of removing and replacing a physical SIM card, switch between plans in settings.

You can even enable more than one plan at the same time, potentially using one for phone calls and texts and another for data. This capability is especially useful if you’re traveling abroad and want to keep your domestic plan active, but also take advantage of a local plan. It’s also good if you trust separate phone numbers for business and personal matters.

On the downside, eSIM is not yet fully or widely supported among traditional carriers around the world. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon support eSIM in the US, but many smaller carriers don’t. Some carriers only support it with postpaid subscriptions and not prepaid plans.

Adoption is on the rise, and Apple’s move with the US iPhone 14 should convince more carriers to make the move. To see if your carrier supports it by country, see apple support page(Opens in a new window).

eSIM operator activation

There are a few different ways to add and activate eSIM on a new iPhone 14. If your carrier supports eSIM carrier activation, they assign an eSIM to your iPhone when you buy it. This should make the setup almost automatic.

To set up your plan with Carrier Activation, your iPhone must be connected to Wi-Fi. If your carrier activated eSIM at the time of purchase (or immediately after), your iPhone should display a notification with the message Cellular Plan Ready to be Installed. Tap on this message and allow the process to complete.

Once the process is done, you need to make a call on your iPhone to make sure you have cellular connectivity through the eSIM.

Fast eSIM Transfer

quick start iphone

Alternatively, an option called eSIM Quick Transfer allows you to transfer the SIM from your old iPhone to the new one without having to contact your carrier. To use this method, you would choose the Quick start option during the initial setup of your phone. This will allow you to transfer data and settings from your old phone to your new phone.

Transfer eSIM during setup

Select your language and country, then place your new phone near your old one until you see the quick start prompt on your old phone. Go through each screen until the Set up eSIM appears. From here, touch Transfer from another iPhonethen play transfer number to confirm the transfer.

eSIM activated

A notification appears on your old phone asking if you want to transfer the SIM card for your phone number. Play Transfer SIM. Double press the side button on the old phone to confirm the transfer. The eSIM is then activated on your new phone and connected to your carrier’s cellular network. When the process is finished, touch Done. You should then take a moment to reboot your phone and then place a call to make sure the service has been activated.

Transfer eSIM from another phone

If you didn’t choose the eSIM transfer option during the initial setup, you can do so later. Your phone will probably remind you to set up your cellular access, but you can also go to Settings > Cellular and touch set up cellular. Play Transfer from another iPhonethen select transfer number to confirm your choice.

confirm transfer

On your old phone, touch Transfer SIM. Double press the side button on your old phone to confirm the transfer. Play Done, then restart your phone. Make a test call to make sure the service transferred successfully.

Add another eSIM

Use QR code

After adding your primary carrier, you can open Settings > Cellular to add other carriers or plans to your phone. Play Add eSIMand (assuming you have a QR code for the provider) tap Use QR code and scan your code.

Enter the details

If you don’t have a QR code but you do have an activation code and other information, touch the Enter details manually at the bottom of the screen, then enter the necessary details.

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Label eSIM plans

After adding the plan, your Primary eSIM and Secondary eSIM will appear on the Cellular screen. A message may appear asking you to assign a specific label to each SIM card to distinguish one from another. Your primary SIM may be labeled Primary by default.

For your secondary eSIM, choose the Label option and give it a name. You can choose a provided name, such as Travel or Business, or use the Custom Label field to create your own.

Customize eSIM data usage

Choose how to use each SIM

You can then determine how you plan to use each SIM. If you’re on the road, for example, you can use your primary plan for voice calls and text messages and your secondary plan for data. You can determine this from the cellular settings page on your phone.

Play Cellular data, then choose the eSIM you want to use for your data. Turn on the switch to Allow mobile data switching if you want both SIM cards to provide mobile data. Back on the cellular settings page, select Default voice line and choose the SIM card you want to use for phone calls.

Adjust SIM settings

From the cellular settings page, you can also modify specific settings for each eSIM. Select your different eSIMs, then make sure they are turned on and all related settings are correct. For example, if you are not using your primary SIM card for data, turn off data roaming. If you are using your secondary SIM for data, turn on data roaming.

Disable or remove an eSIM

Disable or remove eSIM

At some point, you may no longer need the secondary eSIM, especially if you set it up as a temporary plan while you travel. To disable that eSIM, select it and turn off the switch next to turn on this line.

To remove it completely, touch the button to Remove eSIM and follow the prompts to remove it. After removing the eSIM, select your primary SIM and review all the settings to make sure they are now set up correctly.

PC Mag Logo Hands-on with the Apple iPhone 14 Pro line

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