After Apple announced the iPhone Xs, iPhone Xs Max, and iPhone Xr, the tussle between the Android users and iPhone users finally reached to the culmination where the decade-old jokes about dual SIM cards met demise. With the introduction of eSIM cards on iPhones, Apple finally enters the world of dual SIM smartphones available worldwide. India alone has 98 per cent dual-SIM smartphones, which reinstates their demand in the country. Apple, being the latest entrant to the dual-SIM phone manufacturer league, will sweep a reasonable share in the market as it will open new streams for revenue generation.
eSIM technology arrived in India earlier this year when Apple launched the LTE version of the Apple Watch Series 3. Airtel and Jio are the first telecom operators in India that have caught up with the carriers in as many as nine other countries where eSIM technology is supported. Although the LTE variants for the iPad have been available in India for quite a long time, eSIM didn’t really materialise as the physical SIM substituted reasonably fairly. eSIM is short for Embedded Subscriber Identity Module, or Embedded SIM. Rather than being available as a physical entity, the manufacturers integrate a small SIM card inside the phone, saving the process of switching between the physical ones when you change your service provider.
The iPhone Xs, iPhone Xs Max, and iPhone Xr come with support for dual SIM cards, which means the users will be able to operate two different mobile numbers and phone lines. While there is one slot available as usual for the physical SIM card, the eSIM card will need to be activated either by scanning the QR code provided by the preferred carrier or by entering parameters manually. This will extend the viability of the eSIM card to be temporarily switched to the local telecom operator when roaming internationally.
While the partnership with Airtel and Reliance Jio will open revenue streams for Apple, as it will basically dominate the segment and pave ways for specially-curated data plans, much like what BlackBerry offered many years ago. Airtel and Reliance Jio already offer cellular services for eSIM on the Apple Watch Series LTE version. To activate eSIM on the iPhone, however, the chosen telecom operator will provide the user with necessary details such as a QR code, after scanning which the settings and everything else needed for the setup will be automatically downloaded on the iPhone. Alternatively, there will be individual settings available where users can enter the parameters, as given by the carrier, to activate the eSIM.
Interestingly, Apple isn’t the first company to have manufactured the eSIM functionality on the phones. Google implemented the eSIM technology on the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, however, the availability was restricted to the US markets. Besides the US, the eSIM technology is available in nine other countries – Austria, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, India, Spain, the UK.