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Why would you ever want eSIM support? The very existence of eSIM is completely antithetical to reason SIM cards were created in the first place. Without physical SIM cards, you're forced to grovel to your wireless provider to please provision your phone, and they can refuse to do so for any reason. With SIM cards, there's no limit to what devices you can use on what networks, outside of hardware ones.

I find it ridiculous that companies are positioning eSIM as "innovative" -- we already had the exact same thing in the US back with CDMA, and it was awful. eSIM is no different.

Largely for travel: the iPhone XS (at least) supports one physical SIM _and_ one eSIM, so you can use the physical SIM with your primary carrier and then sign up for temporary eSIM packages while travelling to keep data without exorbitant roaming fees.

I always thought of it the other way around: eSIM for primary, while using the secondary physical SIM slot for using local SIM cards while travelling.

Ideally either approach would work, it’d really depend on how mobile service providers around the world adopt eSIM.

In some countries it's very hard to get a local SIM card -- eg. in Germany a few years back (before EU limit on roaming fees) I struggled to get a prepaid SIM and activate it. You need to provide name and address to activate it, and they somehow check it, so they did not accept the address of the hotel...

I guess that would be easier with eSIM, because you could buy a plan that's targeted at travellers (instead of locals), and you wouldn't be limited to the SIM card selection they sell at the gas station.

The providers don't ask for that information because they want to, they do it because they have to by law. You'll have the exact same issue with eSIMs.

The carriers could still sell you a SIM and plan, but the administrative overhead for verifying the information of foreigners is probably deemed too large to still make these short term plans profitable by their metrics.

I don't see how it would be easier necessarily as I assume the rules in countries that make it hard to buy some cards as a visitor, would apply to companies selling esims too.

Many android phones offer dual SIM trays which shouldn't even preclude the ability to offer esim.

The regulations don't preclude selling SIM cards to people who live in a hotel. It's just that the incumbents don't care enough about travellers to make it easy because they are too small of a market.

With esim, the barrier to entry is lower -- a virtual mobile network operator could target travellers and make it easy to get a temporary SIM, without having to first build up a huge distribution network for physical SIM cards.

It would even make it possible to get a temporary SIM card from a different country, which would circumvent some of the restrictive regulations (eg. Germany requires registration with address for phones registered in Germany but allows you to use an "anonymous" phone registered in another country.)

This has been my experience - it's much easier to find a traveller-focused eSIM package - they just show up as options when you land somewhere.

The current iPhones with eSIM support also have a normal nanoSIM slot, nothing stopping you from using that instead. eSIM doesn’t take away any flexibility or functionality.

At least with my provider (AT&T), it's the same with SIM cards. They associate the SIM with the phone, and you can't just swap the SIM into a new phone. Last time I did this, I had to actually go into the store in order to get a brand new SIM paired to my account and the new phone, and the old one was permanently de-activated and thrown in the trash.

I'm assuming it's a move to try and make life inconvenient for people who want to buy used phones instead of getting a new one through them.

My experience (with AT&T prepaid in the US) is that SIM cards are associated with IMEIs and don't work with a new IMEI without my phone company approving it. So it's not functionally different from CDMA. CDMA was fine; the overhead of swapping phones when I was on CDMA is comparable to the current overhead, and I don't recall anything else I missed from not having a physical SIM card.

Off the top of my head, I can't recall running into this anywhere I've been in the world (excluding the US) in the last few years. I carry a beater Android phone when I travel and I often swap it in for my iPhone in situations where I'm afraid I might lose or damage my phone (or it might get pickpocketed) and it's usually a seamless process with local prepaid SIMs.

This was regulated in the EU at some point. You’re no longer allowed to sell locked down phones.


Sprint (and its resellers) is the only carrier in US with a technical reason to pair sim to device and it's because they rolled out their tech in such a wonky way that they now have 4 or 5 versions of same sized sim card in order to support all proprietary weirdness in each device.

Having worked for att I can say this is definetely not the case, the sim card will work with any imei.

Ideally eSIM would allow you to switch provider more easily.

IDK with Google Fi, on a new phone I just install to the app, am auto signed in, takes a minute to connect, then am good to go. No small nano SIM to lose, no finding paperclips, no need to open the phone. Feels pretty slick.

This is related to a pretty good example of why eSim fails in practice! You cannot use a Google Fi data sim with an Apple Watch (the cellular version, that is). Since the Apple Watch (Cellular) version uses an eSim, it's tied to explicit network support, and therefore won't work. If it took a normal SIM I could just put my Fi data sim in and be good to go.

I don't think there's an argument to say it can't be great, but, if all carriers move over the eSIM then they could easily limit the devices they will allow on their network - that would suck.

I feel like you’re ignoring that almost all telecommunications companies lock you out of using alternative sims on devices they sold you.

That ship already sailed when Apple introduced the concept of "locked" phones.

Was that an Apple concept? I think it was common quite some time before the first iPhone, at least in the US market.

Fair point. How about:

That ship already sailed when the concept of "locked phones" was introduced. A concept Apple already bought into with the first iPhone.

Not an Apple concept. E.g. Nokia had it before; my 3210, bought in the late 90s, was locked.

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