Your days with the physical SIM card are numbered, that is, if you are planning to get your hands on the just released iPhone 14 series. Apple launched iPhone 14 models in the US as eSIM only, excluding physical SIM cards altogether.
Although eSIM is not a new concept, Apple is swimming against the grain by not including a SIM tray on new iPhones.
This has caused a lot of concern from people saying that it will be difficult to use the new phones while traveling in developing countries. Apple has since released a supporting document (opens in a new tab) which highlights different options for using the eSIM on newer iPhones.
eSIMs are on-board SIM cards that can be programmed electronically. It’s a safer way to activate a carrier on a phone because it can’t be lost or stolen. It also eliminates the need to obtain, carry and exchange physical SIM cards. Apple introduced eSIM with iPhone XS and all subsequent iPhone models supported digital SIM card. Many of the best Android phones have also had eSIM capabilities for years.
Apple allows you to store up to 8 eSIMs and use two numbers simultaneously (the eSIM version of dual SIMs). We recently discovered that traveling with an eSIM (even on an iPhone XR) is not a problem as there are many different carriers that offer good voice and data plans abroad.
The good news for US users is that some of the top carriers in the country offer eSIM and it’s very easy to set up. So, if you’re in the US and just got the new iPhone 14, here’s how you can set up eSIM on it.
How to activate eSIM on iPhone 14
Installing a SIM card can seem like a daunting process, but Apple has made it pretty simple, with on-screen instructions doing most of the setup for you. There are different ways to add or activate any carrier eSIM on your new iPhone.
If you purchased an eSIM online and need to activate it, you can do it manually by tapping Settings > Mobile data > Add data plan.
You’ll see a screen that says “Set up mobile service” and gives you two options: transfer from a nearby iPhone or use the QR code. Scanning the QR code will guide you through the quick eSIM setup process.
You can directly scan a QR code to also activate eSIM without going into settings.
Most carriers send push notifications once the QR code is scanned, which then keeps you in your hand through the steps. You can also use your carrier’s mobile app, which will also guide you through on-screen instructions to complete the setup process.
Transfer an eSIM or physical SIM
Chances are you want to transfer your existing number to your new iPhone 14. Luckily, there’s a quick way to do that with a feature on iOS 16. The new eSIM configuration option on iOS 16 is called eSIM Quick Transfer which allows users to transfer their old iPhone SIM card (whether physical or eSIM) to an eSIM on the new iPhone 14.
This is one of the easiest ways to transfer SIM cards if you are upgrading from an older iPhone. The only problem is that both iPhones need to be running iOS 16.
For the fast transfer, open your Settings app, tap Mobile Data, then tap “Add Data Plan”.
Now choose a mobile data plan to transfer from another device. If you can’t see a list of numbers, tap “Transfer from another device.” Your old iPhone should confirm the transfer and may ask you to enter a verification number on your new iPhone.
The mobile data plan should be activated automatically on your new device. Apple says “Your previous SIM card is disabled when your new iPhone’s cellular data plan is activated.”
To continue setting up the new eSIM for voice and text, tap “Finish setting up your network provider’s data plan” which should appear as a banner. This will take you to the carrier’s website to transfer your eSIM.
How to activate an eSIM via carriers
If you want to set up a new number on your iPhone 14, this is the way to go.
Most major carriers offer eSIMs, some of which offer the same plans as those offered for physical SIM cards. Here’s how to set up AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile eSIMs on your new iPhone 14. There are other carriers like mint mobile who also provide eSIMs, we focus on these three carriers in this guide.
Note that if you’re having trouble setting up your eSIM, it’s best to call your carrier to complete your setup.
- Login to your AT&T Account (opens in a new tab)
- Click on “My devices”
- Find your iPhone 14 or any other phone you set up and click “Manage”
- Clicking on “Options and Settings”
- From here you can click on “Get a new eSIM”
- Follow the on-screen instructions to complete setup
- Log in to the Verizon app or website
- Find the device you want to eSIM on and set up an eSIM profile
- You can also scan a QR code to activate an eSIM
- Sign in to your T-Mobile account on the app or website
- Find your device you want the eSIM on and select a phone number
- Follow the on-screen instructions to set up a new eSIM
- You can also use a QR code to activate an eSIM
If you are planning to buy a new iPhone, you can check out our iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro reviews. You can also check out our best iPhone 14 deals to get some of the best deals on new phones.
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