iPhone Xs, Xs Max and XR’s Dual SIM Feature Has Potential -- And Limits Too

CSL Mi450 with dual SIMs installed
iPhone (not in photo) has joined the dual SIM fray, but will eSIM be the future?
(Photo: Cheon Fong Liew/Flickr)

With their latest flagship smartphones -- the iPhone Xs, iPhone Xs Max, and iPhone XR -- Apple is joining other brands in offering dual-SIM capabilities. While this new feature has a lot of potentials, it also has its own limits too.

Smartphones with dual SIM capabilities certainly offer more conveniences than smartphones that don't. For starters, dual SIM smartphones are perfect for those who want to have two distinct numbers for work and personal use.

Having a dual SIM setup also allows for continuous cellular connectivity. People who use such devices have better chances of finding cellular services compared to those whose phones have one SIM only.

Travelers also benefit from a dual-SIM setup. Inverse notes, people traveling from one country to another can simply purchase a local SIM card, insert it into their phone, and enjoy cellular services without having to pay huge amounts for roaming services.


Yes, dual SIM is a winner. With this new feature, Apple might have another game-changer.

One problem, however, is that Apple has decided to use a combination of a physical nano-SIM and an eSIM to give its latest flagships the dual-SIM convenience. That's right; one is a physical SIM that can be purchased just about anywhere SIM cards are sold, and another one that a carrier has to program into the phone itself.

This is where the limits begin.

eSIMs are basically digital SIM cards that are "embedded" into the device by certain carriers. This means it's locked onto a specific carrier, and because it's locked onto a certain carrier, the cellular services it can receive or make use of is limited to where the carrier offers its services.

Aside from having limited coverage, users might have to pay more since carriers will charge higher rates when users are abroad and using roaming services.

True enough, users can have multiple eSIMs programmed into the phone, but only one eSIM can be used at any given time along with a physical SIM card. Switching from carrier to carrier won't be as easy as popping the physical SIM out and replacing it with another.

And with the small number of carriers supporting this feature as of the moment, consumers don't really have a choice but to choose a name from the short list.

Chinese consumers might have this better, as Apple will be releasing iPhone Xs, Xs Max and XR versions that use two physical nano-SIMs in China. Consumers in other places, however, can only hope that more carriers will support the eSIM feature.

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