Looking to get your hands on a shiny new iPhone 14 or iPhone 14 Pro model? If you live in the U.S. you will need to be sure that you are familiar with eSIM technology and how you can convert your existing physical SIM to an eSIM or “embedded” SIM. eSIMs allow users to activate a cellular plan on a device using only their carrier credentials.
Understanding eSIM on iPhone 14
The latest iPhone models are not compatible with physical SIM cards. In fact, iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro models sold in the United States don’t feature a physical SIM card or a SIM card tray. These models must be activated with an eSIM. While eSIM has existed as an option for iPhone users since the release of the iPhone XS in 2018, users who upgrade to an iPhone 14 will need to learn how to convert their physical SIM to an eSIM.
Thankfully, Apple provides an eSIM Quick Transfer feature, which notably reduces the degree of friction needed to optimize your cellular plan for the transition to an iPhone 14. The following iPhone models are not only eSIM-capable but eSIM-exclusive in the United States:
- iPhone 14
- iPhone 14 Plus
- iPhone 14 Pro
- iPhone 14 Pro Max
Identifying iPhone eSIM Compatibility
If your current iPhone already supports eSIM, you can prepare for a new iPhone 14 by converting your physical SIM to an eSIM ahead of time. The following iPhone models already offer eSIM compatibility:
- iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR
- iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max
- iPhone 12, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max
- iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max
How to Convert the Physical SIM to eSIM on Your Existing iPhone
You can convert the physical SIM on your existing iPhone to an eSIM in preparation for your new iPhone 14. The process is easy and does not require a WiFi connection.
- Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
- Select the” Cellular” menu and tap “Convert to eSIM.”
- Tap on the button labeled “Convert Cellular Plan.”
- Remove the physical SIM card on your previous iPhone using a SIM ejector tool or a paperclip and reboot your device.
How To Convert Your Physical SIM to eSIM Using eSIM Quick Transfer on iPhone 14
Even if you have never used eSIM before, you can utilize Apple’s eSIM Quick Transfer workflow to transition the physical SIM in your existing iPhone to an eSIM in your new iPhone 14 as part of the device setup process. To ensure that the eSIM conversion process goes smoothly, it is recommended that you update your iPhone to iOS 16 before you proceed.
- Head to the Settings app, then select “General -> Software Update -> Upgrade to iOS 16 -> Download and Install.”
- During the iPhone 14 setup process, you will be asked if you would like to transfer and activate your SIM to an eSIM even if you’re already using eSIM on your existing iPhone. Start by choosing your cellular plan beneath the text that reads “Transfer from another iPhone.” You may be asked to enter a verification code from your previous iPhone on your new iPhone in order to initiate the activation.
- If you do not yet have an eSIM on your previous iPhone, tap the button labeled “Convert Cellular Plan.” Your cellular plan will take a moment to activate on your new iPhone. Once the activation process is complete, the SIM in your previous iPhone will deactivate.
How to Use QR Codes to Activate eSIM on iPhone 14
Some carriers support eSIM but do not support Apple’s eSIM Quick Transfer feature. If this is the case, you will automatically receive a prompt on the “Set up Cellular” screen to scan a QR code from your carrier in order to activate eSIM on your iPhone 14. You can use the built-in Camera app on your iPhone to scan the onscreen QR code.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there advantages to using eSIM on the iPhone?
Yes. According to Apple, every iPhone 14 model can store at least eight different eSIMs at once, and even more in some niche instances. Users can even utilize two eSIMs at once enabling instant switch between work and personal numbers on the same device. Users who frequently roam internationally no longer need to add/remove physical SIM cards in order to switch between different numbers.
Can I use eSIM to switch between mobile carriers on the same device?
Unfortunately, no. While most carriers offer eSIM support, the option to use it does not negate any restrictions regarding roaming or switching service providers, even after contract expiration. To avoid these restrictions, purchase an unlocked iPhone first, and then choose a carrier. Learn more about eSIM with our eSIM guide.
Is an eSIM safe to use?
It’s surprisingly easy for criminals to steal physical SIM cards, which are then used to access your personal data, including contacts, text messages, and your address. Using an eSIM is notably safer than using a physical SIM card since embedded SIMs cannot be removed or stolen. You may need to remove the SIM PIN on your existing SIM in order to activate an eSIM.
Image credit: Brahm Shank
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