Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 13th Sep 2018 21:51 UTC
Apple

On Wednesday, Apple announced that its new iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max will use an eSIM - a purely electronic SIM that allows users to maintain a secondary phone line in a single device. That line could be a secondary domestic line (say you're a journalist and don't want to have separate personal and work iPhones), or the phone could have an American and Canadian number (if you travel across the border frequently).

These handsets will have a new "dual SIM dual standby" option, one of which will be a nano SIM. In other words, they will have two distinct phone numbers. (Chinese models will have two SIM slots instead of the eSIM option.)

I'm by no means an expert, but something about soldered electronic SIM cards seems unpleasant about me - it seems like another bit of control over our devices handed over to device makers and carriers. Won't this make it easier to lock devices even more?

Order by: Score:
Nah
by andywoe on Thu 13th Sep 2018 22:17 UTC
andywoe
Member since:
2018-05-18

Whaaaat? eSIM is programmable, making it much easier to switch (assuming your carrier supports it)

I've switched eSIM carrier twice without problems... no waiting for sim card in mail. Roaming benefits too.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Nah
by darknexus on Fri 14th Sep 2018 11:32 UTC in reply to "Nah"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

That's great... but what if your carrier says no and gives you the finger? How quickly we forget what AT&T did to Apple SIM, which was a programmable SIM card for iPads:
https://gizmodo.com/at-t-is-locking-down-apples-universal-sim-but-it...
Let's say they do that again. Only this time, guess what? You can't remove the sim and buy a new one for $5, now can you?
Seriously, is everybody naive these days? I remember the days of E-SIM, from Verizon and Sprint. Do we really want to go back to that nightmare?

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Nah
by ikev85 on Fri 14th Sep 2018 15:14 UTC in reply to "RE: Nah"
ikev85 Member since:
2012-12-27

Not only this, but ATT will lock the eSIM in the iPad rendering it useless if you cancel service, your only recourse is the sim slot after that. https://www.cultofmac.com/543133/esim-att-verizon-apple-doj-investig...

Reply Score: 2

RE: Nah
by curio on Sun 16th Sep 2018 13:03 UTC in reply to "Nah"
curio Member since:
2010-05-03

Apple's been trying to slip this travesty of convenience into their control-freak ditty bag for years now. What better way to further lock people into Apple's abusive, totalitarian walled garden?
Further, moving to eSIMs is going in the exact wrong direction for markets that are becoming saturated with one-phone cellphone owners.
If Apple could suppress their all controlling greed for just a minute or two, they would see that removable sim cards that also contained all of the user's data and programs etc.., SIM+SD, would turn their phones into simple kiosk hardware.
This would make the change/swap to other phones the user may own (or buy) a trivial task. Enabling the -- when at work phone, the playing rough and sweaty sports phone, the digging in the garden phone, the night out on the town phone, the duplicate of all those phones for charging each of their phone's twins phones.
Like a closet full of shoes and most other clothes, we keep the newest for best and use the older ones for less glamorous tasks, ultimately down to the taking out the garbage phone.

A little less control = huge new market potential. After all, these SIM+SDs still would only work with Apples' iGulag phones.

There is no need to willingly go though life bent over with your cheeks spread, begging Apple to "DO" you worse than they already are.

And Google/Android suck too!

Reply Score: 0

bhtooefr
Member since:
2009-02-19

eSIMs seem to have standards to allow any carrier to push a SIM application to a phone, so that unlocked eSIM devices can happen.

Slamming is a practice that's happened for wired phone service in the US, where in the wake of telephone deregulation, long distance telephone service providers could easily change anyone's long distance service without their consent or even knowledge.

I wonder if the same thing could happen to eSIM-equipped devices...

Also worth noting that CDMA devices (before LTE) in the US have always had identity as something that gets programmed into the phone - the combination of the ESN/MEID (permanently assigned), MSID (internal phone network identifier, originally your phone number before number portability), and MDN (your phone number) identifies your phone to the networks. Unlocked devices existed just fine on the small regional carriers with that arrangement. (However, the major CDMA carriers were both locked, and had allowlists of what ESN/MEIDs they'd accept on their networks, back in the day.) Activating a phone was a matter of notifying the carrier of what ESN/MEID you wanted activated, and putting the new MSID and MDN in through the keypad (I think there were a couple other things that you changed when changing carriers, and then a command to get roaming lists whenever you activated it?)

Edited 2018-09-13 22:25 UTC

Reply Score: 6

Agreed
by Munchkinguy on Fri 14th Sep 2018 01:27 UTC
Munchkinguy
Member since:
2007-12-22

It's definitely easier to swap SIM cards between phones, rather than depending on your carrier to reprogram them. I have a backup phone that I like to use when I travel. You can't really get much simpler than popping a SIM out of one phone and sticking it in the other.

Reply Score: 6

RE: Agreed
by WorknMan on Fri 14th Sep 2018 02:31 UTC in reply to "Agreed"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

You can't really get much simpler than popping a SIM out of one phone and sticking it in the other.


I dunno... some phones (like the XZ1 Compact) make it a bit of a pain in the ass to swap them. Plus, imagine if you could swap SIMs using software. If you have multiple phones (say, your regular work horse, and then a cheaper one for outdoor activities), you could just hit a button and say 'make this my active phone'.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Agreed
by Soulbender on Fri 14th Sep 2018 04:21 UTC in reply to "RE: Agreed"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

You know there are many phones with two sim slots, right?

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Agreed
by WorknMan on Fri 14th Sep 2018 11:56 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Agreed"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

You know there are many phones with two sim slots, right?


How does that help in the scenario I described?

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Agreed
by ahferroin7 on Fri 14th Sep 2018 12:21 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Agreed"
ahferroin7 Member since:
2015-10-30

It lets you use either number without needing to swap almost anything.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Agreed
by WorknMan on Sat 15th Sep 2018 17:36 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Agreed"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

It lets you use either number without needing to swap almost anything.


I don't want to switch numbers - I want to switch PHONES.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Agreed
by rener on Fri 14th Sep 2018 11:41 UTC in reply to "RE: Agreed"
rener Member since:
2006-02-27

"could", in the real world you need provider support, they only do eSIM for expense contracts, sometimes charge extra, and you have a hard time getting cheap pre paid ones abroad, and usually can not instantly switch them, at least often not very often

Reply Score: 3

RE: Agreed
by andywoe on Fri 14th Sep 2018 07:34 UTC in reply to "Agreed"
andywoe Member since:
2018-05-18

How is that different from carrier SIM locks? Not different at all.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Agreed
by Doc Pain on Fri 14th Sep 2018 22:10 UTC in reply to "Agreed"
Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

"That line could be a secondary domestic line (say you're a journalist and don't want to have separate personal and work iPhones), [...]"

So having separate phones for work and personal use isn't considered an advantage anymore? Just like having different contact details (address, phone number, email address, etc.) for work and private use?

Maybe I'm too old to understand this... I still have physically separated devices for my work and private use (and I don't pay for those required for work - I even switch them off and leave them at home when I'm on vacation). Of course today's "smartphone mania" fully caters to the "always online, always communicating" attitude that employers love because it gives them the power to shove "always be working (for free!)" down the throat of their employees.

The eSIM transfers the task of swapping cards into a virtual task the phone provider has to fulfill. Will this always work flawlessly? Is this more secure than typical scams that rely on physical SIM cards in order to hijack numbers for phone calls, SMS and MMS (typically used to obtain access to online banking facilities)? In case of a broken phone, will it enable you to be up and running as quickly as just putting the SIM card into a different phone? I'm asking this because in situation where "everything just works" nobody thinks about accidents where you have to do something, instead of relying on the magic of "just works"...

Reply Score: 3

more US centrism
by unclefester on Fri 14th Sep 2018 01:42 UTC
unclefester
Member since:
2007-01-13

The US tech industry seems blissfully unaware that the US is a mere 3% of the world's population. People do things differently in other countries.

In Australia eSims are only available postpaid with a AUD5/month extra charge.
https://www.whistleout.com.au/MobilePhones/Guides/what-is-esim

Reply Score: 4

RE: more US centrism
by avgalen on Fri 14th Sep 2018 08:42 UTC in reply to "more US centrism"
avgalen Member since:
2010-09-23

The US tech industry seems blissfully unaware that the US is a mere 3% of the world's population. People do things differently in other countries.

In Australia eSims are only available postpaid with a AUD5/month extra charge.
https://www.whistleout.com.au/MobilePhones/Guides/what-is-esim

Normally I would agree with you about the US thinking to much about themselves, but:
* US is about 4.5% of the worlds population, not 3% (https://www.census.gov/popclock/), they are the 3rd most populous country in the world and the region where they make an enormous chunk of all their money
* Giving an example of Australia that has about 1/15th of the US (and relatively much fewer iPhones) as an example of where they should pay attention is not the best reason
* Having China being the biggest and actually having non Esim there seems like they ARE paying attention
* Apple probably has enough marketpush to remove/reduce that 5$/month fee in Australia if it would get in the way for sales
* The US is also "where all the tech is from", so although I also think the tech is too much US-centric I can understand why it is this way (Australia has English, I come from an even smaller non-English country so we were sold Apple TV for a higher price with no voice-control...so we just didn't buy many)

Reply Score: 4

RE: more US centrism
by sklofur on Fri 14th Sep 2018 21:32 UTC in reply to "more US centrism"
sklofur Member since:
2016-03-28

I’d be wary of judging the current telco offerings through the lens of Apple Watch plans. Those plans extended their coverage to the watch with the same phone number. I currently don’t see much evidence of eSIM plans that are designed to stand on their own. Maybe once these hit the market it’ll be possible to get a separate number for your watch.

Reply Score: 2

Innovation
by Soulbender on Fri 14th Sep 2018 04:20 UTC
Soulbender
Member since:
2005-08-18

Breaking: Apple invents dual-sim phones.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Innovation
by leech on Fri 14th Sep 2018 06:33 UTC in reply to "Innovation"
leech Member since:
2006-01-10

Yeah, isn't it funny how this always gets twisted. Apparently there is a dual sim version of the Note 8 out there, and that came out a year ago. But I've seen MANY dual SIM phones out there (yeah they are actual SIM cards rather than an eSIM plus extra SIM. Why don't they just use that as a MicroSD card, which would be more useful to more of their users?

But of course it's an Apple 'innovation'.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Innovation
by ahferroin7 on Fri 14th Sep 2018 12:25 UTC in reply to "RE: Innovation"
ahferroin7 Member since:
2015-10-30

MicroSD slots are dying out even in lower-end devices. The reality is that while they may be good for users, they're not really all that great for manufacturers. Phones with microSD support tend to get purchased with lower internal storage capacity (which cuts into one of the bigger profit margins for manufacturers), and tend to be kept longer (because the user can upgrade the storage capacity themselves instead of needing a new phone).

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Innovation
by leech on Fri 14th Sep 2018 17:21 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Innovation"
leech Member since:
2006-01-10

MicroSD slots are dying out even in lower-end devices. The reality is that while they may be good for users, they're not really all that great for manufacturers. Phones with microSD support tend to get purchased with lower internal storage capacity (which cuts into one of the bigger profit margins for manufacturers), and tend to be kept longer (because the user can upgrade the storage capacity themselves instead of needing a new phone).


I simply refuse to buy a phone that lacks a MicroSD slot. I held off forever on replaceable batteries, it still irritates me though that I can't extend the life of the phone. But then it's dropped support by the time the battery dies...

When the phones are ~1000 these days, they shouldn't be considered throw away devices.

Reply Score: 0

RE[4]: Innovation
by ahferroin7 on Fri 14th Sep 2018 17:57 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Innovation"
ahferroin7 Member since:
2015-10-30

If you actually look, you can find perfectly usable phones for less than 500 USD. The Moto G6 or Samsung J3 for example. Yeah, they may not be reasonable for gaming, but they work for 95% of the rest of what most people use a smartphone for these days. Interestingly, such devices actually usually do still have MicroSD card slots, at least up until recently.

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: Innovation
by zima on Sat 15th Sep 2018 15:36 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Innovation"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

500?! Didn't you mean, I don't know, 200?...

Reply Score: 2

RE: apple invents Dual Sim Phones
by shotsman on Fri 14th Sep 2018 06:40 UTC in reply to "Innovation"
shotsman Member since:
2005-07-22

Watch out or someone will file a lawsuit against Apple... ;) ;)

Seriously, there are parts of the world where Dual Sim phones are really, really common. This is especially true where you move from country to country regularly.
I bought a Samsung Galaxy 2-sim phone when I worked in Jordan. Add a local card and it was perfect. I could call people in Amman from the phone and not pay roamig charges (£1/min) and when at home, my normal Sim took over. No fiddling around on the flight back to London to swap sims.
Sadly, some [redacted] nicked it when I was working in Sao Paulo. Again a local Sim was used to make local calls.

Reply Score: 4

Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

I've had 3 Android phones so far and every one of them had two SIM slots. Same for my wife's and daughter's phones.

Reply Score: 3

dsmogor
Member since:
2005-09-01

Sim cards are remnant of Europe's dominance in cell phone industry as the technology was developed and produced in Europe so that was a natural match. Now that it has died off, the last traces are being obsoleted and removed.

Reply Score: 3

govt
by xfire on Fri 14th Sep 2018 06:33 UTC
xfire
Member since:
2018-08-22

Hah another surveillance feature we DON'T need, you cannot even take out the simcard anymore. Although iphones, androids are loaded with tons of phone home software this is another move to destroy your privacy completely. At the end the best move will be going back to landline like Richard Stallman.

Reply Score: 0

There must be a practical effect.
by ThomasFuhringer on Fri 14th Sep 2018 06:47 UTC
ThomasFuhringer
Member since:
2007-01-25

I wonder how much of an impact it has on battery life and phone build size if you can get rid of a piece of extra hardware. Sure, it is tiny but maybe still noticable.

Reply Score: 1

ahferroin7 Member since:
2015-10-30

For this specifically, neither aspect is likely to be impacted much. SIM cards are already pretty energy-efficient, so any savings there is just as likely to come from lowered contact resistance from having a direct soldered connection as the chip being more efficient. As far as space, most handsets have no issue supporting the 12.3x8.8x0.67mm space needed to accomodate a nano-SIM.

The big advantages here are reliability (soldered SMT devices don't have to deal with contact corrosion) and security (an eSIM is much harder to tamper with than the older UICC cards).

Reply Score: 3

darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Sure, it's secure all right... secure from the user being allowed to make choices. It's carrier security and a lock-in channel, nothing more or less.

Reply Score: 1

Why is China different?
by avgalen on Fri 14th Sep 2018 08:27 UTC
avgalen
Member since:
2010-09-23

Chinese models will have two SIM slots instead of the eSIM option
Both the original article and the summary mention this but nobody commented on it. For once a US company puts a different tech in Chinese phones than everywhere else in the world and nobody thinks that is strange?

Reply Score: 2

RE: Why is China different?
by Megol on Fri 14th Sep 2018 11:00 UTC in reply to "Why is China different?"
Megol Member since:
2011-04-11

"Chinese models will have two SIM slots instead of the eSIM option
Both the original article and the summary mention this but nobody commented on it. For once a US company puts a different tech in Chinese phones than everywhere else in the world and nobody thinks that is strange? "

Nobody should think it strange - China is a completely different country and things works different than in the US. Two SIM phones seem to be the standard there and even three SIM phones are available.

Also US companies usually deliver different products to different parts of the world just as other manufacturers deliver special devices to the (in comparison with the rest of the world) strange US market.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Why is China different?
by mistersoft on Fri 14th Sep 2018 13:42 UTC in reply to "RE: Why is China different?"
mistersoft Member since:
2011-01-05

.... Hopefully the chinese-market true dual-physical-SIM models will work in other geographies and become available via grey market channels.

Moreover will they have English language support and be able to freely access the wide open internet without sneakily routing via the great Chinese firewall intermediates..?

If yes - All I'd be missing is the USB-C connector. But maybe next time. ;-)

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Why is China different?
by avgalen on Mon 17th Sep 2018 12:14 UTC in reply to "RE: Why is China different?"
avgalen Member since:
2010-09-23

For once a US company puts a different tech in Chinese phones than everywhere else in the world and nobody thinks that is strange?


Nobody should think it strange - China is a completely different country and things works different than in the US. Two SIM phones seem to be the standard there and even three SIM phones are available.


You misunderstood my question. I wasn't asking why the US was different from China, I was asking why China is different from the rest of the world. Dual-Sim is extremely popular in many developing countries where different regions have different providers, or with people that work across borders. India is the obvious example that I would expect to receive the phone similar to China, not the US

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Why is China different?
by avgalen on Tue 18th Sep 2018 10:01 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Why is China different?"
avgalen Member since:
2010-09-23

Answering my own question: At first I heard that eSims are illegal in China, but that turns out to be wrong. It seems more a powerplay between Apple and Chinese carriers (China Mobile Ltd) that they couldn't finish before releasetime. Allowing eSims would make switching between providers easier, giving Apple more power and the carriers less power. In the past Apple has been famously able to push carriers, but the Chinese carriers are bigger and have the government behind them.

Sources: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-09-12/apple-bends-to-ch...
and https://www.nttdocomo.co.jp/english/info/media_center/pr/2018/0626_0...

Reply Score: 2

Comment by Flatland_Spider
by Flatland_Spider on Fri 14th Sep 2018 14:42 UTC
Flatland_Spider
Member since:
2006-09-01

There are mentions that eSIM is a direct reaction to US wireless carriers colluding and making it harder to switch carriers, and eSIM is an attempt to make it easier to switch.

Being able to setup multiple SIMs on multiple carriers before leaving home for international destinations would be a nice change, and this kind of thing is why we have technology. Getting rid of the "Where can I but a SIM card" dance is an improvement.

Now if I could just buy a data only plan which will charge me in 10Gig increments. Like Google Fi except it needs to work with an iPad. :\

Edited 2018-09-14 14:46 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by Flatland_Spider
by darknexus on Fri 14th Sep 2018 17:30 UTC in reply to "Comment by Flatland_Spider"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

The problem is, E-SIM will actually make it easier to force you not to switch carriers. No matter what the rumors of reaction, the straight up fact is that if Apple allows carriers to pull what they allowed with Apple SIM, then that phone could become locked to a carrier, permanently, without you ever realizing it has happened until you try to change. At that point, you'll be buying a new phone because, unlike the mentioned Apple SIM, the E-SIM can't ever, ever, ever be removed. We, in the U.S at least, went through this crap before with E-SIM carriers on CDMA networks. I cannot believe people will want to willingly return to that clusterfsck, but I guess if they're told by the great Tim Cook that it's for their own good, they'll swallow without reservation. We're heading back into carrier control, and you can bet Android phone OEMs are going to follow this because it means more $$$ in their pocket. Want to switch away from AT&T? Yay, you have to buy a new phone now!
P.S. The fact that Apple is helping the DOJ investigate Verizon and AT&T over their E-SIM and Apple SIM locking practices gives me hope that they won't allow these kinds of carrier locks, but we all know how the money can talk. The fact that they allowed AT&T to pull their shenanigans on Apple SIM, which was supposed to remain unlocked in the first place, makes me think that they might just give in if the pot is sweetened enough.

Edited 2018-09-14 17:35 UTC

Reply Score: 3

broken phone
by spinnekopje on Fri 14th Sep 2018 17:49 UTC
spinnekopje
Member since:
2008-11-29

What if your phone becomes broken for whatever reason? With a physical sim you take it out, put it in another phone and you can start to call, text, surf, ..
How do you cope with that with an eSim in the middle of the night?

Reply Score: 2

What problem does eSIM solve?
by zima on Sat 15th Sep 2018 15:35 UTC
zima
Member since:
2005-07-06

Physical SIMs are a quite convenient concept ...pop in a new SIM just bought in a newsstand, or simply your old one into a different phone, and it's yours. eSIM looks like it might face roadblocks to adoption in most of the world, which is mostly on prepaid (probably why Chinese iPhones will have 2 SIM slots...)

Reply Score: 3

duraaraa
Member since:
2012-03-31

I, for one, really, really wanted a dual sim iPhone, so this is a very welcome development. However, the fact of the matter is, eSIM isn't supported by any of the carriers I use. When it is supported, it's likely to be only supported by the big carriers with the long contracts, and not with the MVNOs. So sadly, the eSIM version ends up useless for me.

The only saving grace is that there's a Chinese model. See:
https://dualsimiphones.com

This model actually has two sim cards, so it can be used with whatever SIMs you want. I'm importing one of these for this year, and hoping that when next year's models come out, eSIM is a valid choice for me.

Reply Score: 1