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Why Apple is ditching the physical SIM card

The days of using a paperclip to perform microsurgery to extract a tiny SIM card from a tiny tray on your iPhone may be coming to an end.

At its press event this week, Apple revealed that it is ditching physical SIM cards in its new iPhone 14 lineup in the United States. Instead, the company is embracing a digital alternative known as eSIMs.

A SIM card is a unique identifier on each cell phone that allows the device to connect to wireless networks to send text messages and make calls. An eSIM refers to an “embedded” SIM or card connected to the phone itself.

People tend to change their SIM cards when they are changing carriers or traveling internationally and looking to use a different service provider while traveling.

Apple launched eSIM support on iPhones for the first time in 2018, promising to make it easier for customers to activate their cellular plans and use multiple phone numbers and carriers for the same device.

Now, Apple is doubling down on that feature, completely eliminating the infrastructure to support physical SIM cards in the iPhone 14.

“With eSIM, you can quickly transfer an existing cellular plan or get a new cellular plan, all digitally,” Kaiann Drance, Apple’s vice president of iPhone marketing, said at the event on Wednesday.

Drance also praised how eSIM cards can make devices “more secure”, noting that “one cannot remove the physical SIM card if their iPhone is lost or stolen”.

The Federal Communications Commission also claims that eSIMs bring “significant security benefits”. Some bad actors have been known to steal a physical SIM card and swap it for a different phone to gain access to someone’s information and reset their accounts, according to the federal agency.

An eSIM card can reduce this risk because it “cannot be stolen without stealing the phone”.

In theory, doing away with the SIM card slot could have another benefit: allowing more room for larger batteries or other features in the phone. That’s no small feat for a company like Apple that is always trying to make its devices thinner.

While ditching the SIM card slot might not be as polarizing as Apple’s decision to ditch the headphone jack, it has already caused some complaints on social media.

Frequent international travelers in particular are used to exchanging physical SIM cards in different places and may travel to places where operators do not yet support the use of eSIMS. In mainland China, for example, the eSIM functionality on the iPhone 14 is not currently offered.

Source: CNN Brasil

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