Apple iPhone 6s: Why no eSIM?
Though many rumours swirled, the eSIM is nowhere to be found among Apple’s announcements.
The newly-announced iPhone 6s is free of Australia tax and has lots of new features, but one of the most widely rumoured -- the elimination of the SIM card in favour of a virtual "eSIM" – isn't part of the new phone.
iPhone launch rumours often prove wide of the mark, but the notion of an eSIM had more credibility than most. Apple has already implemented its own version of the eSIM – the Apple SIM – on the iPad, although it has only done so in the US. There's a new iPad model, the iPad Pro, on the way, but so far its main impact has been raising the price on other iPad models. The iPhone, meanwhile, is sticking with its existing nano-SIM approach.
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eSIMs really aren't all that difficult to implement from a technological perspective. But that's where we hit a road hump. Sure, it's easy enough to implement, but what’s the point in kicking off this crazy new idea if you don't have the support of the world's major mobile carriers?
It seems the eSIM, much like Apple Pay, is going to remain a mirage for Aussies (and possibly the world) until carriers see a benefit in the technology.
What is an eSIM?
An eSIM, if it does come to fruition, would come in the form of an embedded SIM (encased in the device’s hardware) – the information on it being completely rewritable by mobile carriers. This means that not only is it completely unnecessary to remove the SIM card from the mobile device, but that users could switch mobile providers simply by making a phone call. This negates the need to order a physical SIM to replace your current carrier, and it also means wait times for porting your number from one carrier to another would be drastically reduced. This would be great news for emerging providers, and potentially bad news for Australia's major carriers.
The idea of an eSIM was originally put forward by the Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA) – a group that represents the interests of mobile carriers worldwide – but rumours have recently emerged that the two biggest mobile device manufacturers, Apple and Samsung, have negotiated with major mobile carriers to support embedded SIM cards in future smartphone releases.