This year the Apple iPhone 14, including all of its variations, is shipping without a SIM tray – at least, that's the story if you are buying one in the US. If you are planning to buy your iPhone 14, or even iPhone 14 Pro Max, in any other country it will still have that familiar slot. you know, the one that you need to use the special Apple tool (or a paper clip/earring) to open before putting in your SIM card.
But why? Why in 2022 do we still need to take a small printed chip out of our old phone and place it in the new one? A mobile phone contract is just a subscription after all, and as eSIMs have proved, can be done digitally. Netflix doesn't send you a SIM card to watch content, so why do you need one for phone data? And it's not like the days when all your phone numbers were stored on your SIM card – all of that is now on the cloud.
Phone service operators will obviously retort that it's more complicated than a streaming subscription, and that's fair. Your phone number needs to be tied to one device and that needs verification to ensure it's you using it.
Even in the UK now with most good networks, when you sign up for a new phone contract, the store will put it on your phone digitally, by essentially signing you into your contract. This process is what we know as an eSIM, it's a way of logging into your phone network without a physical SIM.
Setting up an eSIM takes no longer than plugging in a physical SIM, at least in-store. Though I have heard stories of people waiting for over six hours for an eSIM to be transferred between phones.
As someone that tests phones, being able to quickly remove your SIM and put it in a new phone is still an advantage but only because swapping your eSIM is made overly complicated. If I can change my banking app from one phone to another, surely I should be able to move my SIM across myself too?
Having a phone without a SIM tray means less small gaps for dirt to get in and a cleaner design. The only reason I, and many others are worried about not having a SIM tray is that some networks make it difficult.
I suspect that eSIMs will continue to grow in popularity this year and by the time the iPhone 15 comes around next year most of the world will see phones without SIM trays. I just hope that by then, it's easier to swap your eSIM from one device to another.