Apple unveils new multi-carrier 'Apple SIM' bundled with new iPads

Posted:
in iPad edited October 2014
The next-generation iPad Air will ship with a multitude of new features -- like the A8X chip, faster 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and a fully-laminated display -- but there is one addition that the company did not reveal on stage: a preinstalled "Apple SIM" that will be recognized by wireless providers around the world.




Cellular-enabled iPad models have traditionally shipped either with no SIM or the SIM of the dominant GSM-based carrier in their country, unless purchased from a specific wireless provider. Apple is attempting to change that paradigm with the Apple SIM, which the company says "gives you the flexibility to choose from a variety of short-term plans from select carriers in the U.S. and UK right on your iPad."

Users have always been able to insert a new SIM into their iPad when moving around, but the process is tedious and the ability to start-and-stop data service from the tablet's settings menu is lost. The Apple SIM should rectify that for users traveling to countries with participating carrier partners.

At launch, only AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile in the U.S. and EE in the U.K. have signed on. Apple does hint that more may be available in the future, however.

"And when you travel, you may also be able to choose a data plan from a local carrier for the duration of your trip," the company said.

The Apple SIM appears to be a traditional hardware SIM, and likely works by having its identification number registered with each of Apple's participating carrier partners. Apple has previously explored embedded SIM technology, but those plans were shelved following a carrier revolt.

Apple's iPad mini 3 will also ship with an Apple SIM, but there do not appear to be plans yet to offer it as a standalone solution.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 38
    Very cool. Sometimes it is about the little things Apple does that makes them great.
  • Reply 2 of 38
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,789member
    A multi-carrier SIM is the first step toward carrier-agnostic devices.
    I'd gladly pay Apple slightly more than I'm paying AT&T if my iPhone could switch carriers.
    Wherever I am, I'd like to switch to the carrier with the strongest signal and/or fastest data.
    Every month I'd pay Apple instead of any one carrier. Carriers would get pro-rated payment.
    That's worth a little more IMHO. (Yeah. I know, I know. It might never happen.)
  • Reply 3 of 38
    misamisa Posts: 827member
    This is actually a pretty big deal.

    If I can use the Apple sim and go "pretty much anywhere" and spend 20$ or so to activate 2GB of data or a month of data or whatever, you no longer have to buy the prepaid sim cards in the EU, or beg a MVNO for a sim card without buying a phone in the US/Canada. You can just use what it comes with.


    It probably would have been a bit more worth while for Apple to be it's own MVNO, but that would likely not work in Apple's favor when there are still parts of the world with horrible wireless costs (US/Canada) or horrible coverage (Canada/Australia/US Western states.)
  • Reply 4 of 38
    nasseraenasserae Posts: 3,166member

    Want this on the iPhone!!

  • Reply 5 of 38
    entropysentropys Posts: 3,193member
    First step before removing SIM cards and their trays altogether. There are virtual sims in the future with menu based carrier selection! Maybe even an option to automatically select the carrier on the fly based on a range of options such as price or signal strength!

    Maybe it isn't on iPhone yet becuase of the ubiquity of carrier subsidies.
  • Reply 6 of 38
    This is clearly a response to the mobile phone shop salesmen hearing "I want an iPad" and supplying a Scamsung whilst saying "It's cheaper and it works with your fingers, just like an iPad!"

    Hope this hits the telecons that push Samesungs hard...
  • Reply 7 of 38
    elehcdnelehcdn Posts: 385member

    I don't think this about Apple providing the service as much as it is providing a SIM that will work on multiple networks without swapping out. It doesn't change the current paradigm by much since tablets (at least in the US) are on a month to month charge without a contract. It just makes life easier for people traveling country to country and spending enough time (more than a week?) to sign up for local data.

     

    Wonder how this affects US cell provider global plans and licensing agreements? On one hand, the US providers lose the global business, but I wonder how much of a hassle it is for them to negotiate with global partners, have to charge extra to support global customers, and then have customers who complain about the high cost of access. oth, people coming to the US from other countries will be able to tap directly into the US providers instead of paying their domestic carriers for international access.

  • Reply 8 of 38
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SockRolid View Post

    A multi-carrier SIM is the first step toward carrier-agnostic devices.

    I'd gladly pay Apple slightly more than I'm paying AT&T if my iPhone could switch carriers.

    Wherever I am, I'd like to switch to the carrier with the strongest signal and/or fastest data.

    Every month I'd pay Apple instead of any one carrier. Carriers would get pro-rated payment.

    That's worth a little more IMHO. (Yeah. I know, I know. It might never happen.)

     

    But if two of us wish for the same thing...it might happen.

    Most likely we will both be disappointed.
  • Reply 9 of 38
    elehcdnelehcdn Posts: 385member

    Don't know that you will see this on iPhones since the domestic carriers (at least in the US) heavily subsidize the handset cost. This feature is for people that are on month to month contracts.

  • Reply 10 of 38
    boeyc15boeyc15 Posts: 986member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Misa View Post



    This is actually a pretty big deal.



    If I can use the Apple sim and go "pretty much anywhere" and spend 20$ or so to activate 2GB of data or a month of data or whatever, you no longer have to buy the prepaid sim cards in the EU, or beg a MVNO for a sim card without buying a phone in the US/Canada. You can just use what it comes with.





    It probably would have been a bit more worth while for Apple to be it's own MVNO, but that would likely not work in Apple's favor when there are still parts of the world with horrible wireless costs (US/Canada) or horrible coverage (Canada/Australia/US Western states.)

    I went the Verizon route on my ipad2, I never know if that thing is on or off etc. All I know is I get a $20 bill at the end of the month... even WITH cellular data turned off. Looking for something better for sure. If I could turn iphone tethering on and off, ie stop / start the carrier cost to tether,  that would be a better option. I only use my ipad cellular once in a while, but its nice when I do... not $20 every month nice though.

  • Reply 11 of 38

    I want this to mean it says “Apple” in the upper left, but of course it won’t.

  • Reply 12 of 38
    maccamacca Posts: 22member
    Does anybody know if you can put your own SIM in the iPad?
  • Reply 13 of 38
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,648member

    I've never had a cell enabled iPad, so I'm curious to know: if you get one, and pay for a data plan (through this new feature or otherwise) can you use the iPad and data via wifi tether to other devices?

  • Reply 14 of 38
    idreyidrey Posts: 647member
    Why is this sim not in my iphone?
  • Reply 15 of 38
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by elehcdn View Post

    Don't know that you will see this on iPhones since the domestic carriers (at least in the US) heavily subsidize the handset cost. This feature is for people that are on month to month contracts.

     

    I bet there are a whole bunch of people that would pay the full price of the phone and go carrier contract free in order to take advantage of something like this, though.
  • Reply 16 of 38
    maccamacca Posts: 22member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by BigBillyGoatGruff View Post

     
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by elehcdn View Post

     

    Don't know that you will see this on iPhones since the domestic carriers (at least in the US) heavily subsidize the handset cost. This feature is for people that are on month to month contracts.


     


    I bet there are a whole bunch of people that would pay the full price of the phone and go carrier contract free in order to take advantage of something like this, though.



    I do as I normally change my SIM for cheap data between EU countries

  • Reply 17 of 38
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,648member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by eightzero View Post

     

    I've never had a cell enabled iPad, so I'm curious to know: if you get one, and pay for a data plan (through this new feature or otherwise) can you use the iPad and data via wifi tether to other devices?


    ....and, is it possible to buy a pre-loaded, pre-paid data SIM card with a specific data amount? IOW, pay for the data whenever and however it is used? I kinda don't dig the "monthly" plans. Suspect that's what we are stuck with though.

  • Reply 18 of 38
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 13,001member
    boeyc15 wrote: »
    All I know is I get a $20 bill at the end of the month...

    They pay you at the end of the month? How did you manage that? ;)
  • Reply 19 of 38
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by elehcdn View Post

     

    Don't know that you will see this on iPhones since the domestic carriers (at least in the US) heavily subsidize the handset cost. This feature is for people that are on month to month contracts.


    Not really. Nobody is subsidizing anything. You are simply paying off (more) the cost of the handset over the period of contract. Your contract service price does not go down when you finish the contract.

     

    If it was a "subsidy" the carrier would be absorbing losses, which in this case, does not happen. they in fact recover more over a 2 year period

  • Reply 20 of 38
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by idrey View Post



    Why is this sim not in my iphone?

    My guess is that Apple is certain that there will be a lot of unforeseen issues, so they wanted to limit how many people may run into issues for now.

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