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

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?

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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

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