Multi-carrier Apple SIM 'dedicated' to AT&T's network upon activation, not carried by Sprint Stores

Posted:
in iPad edited December 2014
It was discovered on Friday that AT&T is dedicating the new multi-carrier Apple SIM included with the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 to its network, forcing buyers to obtain a new one when switching to another carrier, while Sprint Stores will not supply the card at all.



With its latest cellular-connected iPad models, Apple introduced the "Apple SIM," a micro-SIM card compatible with multiple wireless providers around the world. At launch, Apple announced AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and the UK's EE as participating carriers, but it appears some telcos are pushing back against the initiative.

As noted by iMore, a support document posted to Apple's website on Friday points out a few limitations to its Apple SIM hardware, as imposed by cellular providers.
Using Apple SIM, you can choose from different cellular carriers and their various programs. The data plans vary by carrier. For instance, in the United States, you can choose a domestic plan from either Sprint or T-Mobile and also pick an alternate plan from the other carrier as needed. When you choose AT&T on iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, AT&T dedicates Apple SIM to their network only.
By dedicating Apple SIM to its network, AT&T nullifies much of the utility offered by Apple's system. If an AT&T iPad owner intends to switch between carriers using short-term subscriptions, they will need to get a new Apple SIM for outside networks. This is basically how the system worked prior to Apple SIM.

It should be noted that AT&T is not locking in iPad hardware, meaning users are free to change carriers so long as they acquire a new Apple SIM from that provider or Apple.

The document also notes that Sprint Stores will not include Apple SIM with new iPad purchases, instead opting for "legacy Sprint SIM cards" that assumedly do not support multiple carriers.
If you purchase your iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 3 from a carrier retail location, your Apple SIM will only be compatible with that carrier's program. If you purchase your iPad Air or iPad mini 3 from an Apple Retail, Apple On-line store, or a reseller within countries where Apple SIM is supported, you'll have all participating carriers to choose from.

Apple Online Store: All supported carriers in that country
Apple Retail Store: All supported carriers in that country
Reseller: All supported carriers in that country
Participating carrier store: Only the carrier from that carrier store
Note: Sprint Stores will only carry iPads with legacy Sprint SIM cards (not Apple SIM cards).
The issue is more confusing for T-Mobile. A supposedly leaked internal document suggested the company would also be locking the Apple SIM onto its network, at least those units included in iPads sold through the telco's retail chain. However, a series of tweets from CEO John Legere suggests T-Mobile is not locking in Apple SIMs and will provide full multi-carrier compatibility as Apple intended.

For now, those in the market for a new iPad may best be served by making the purchase through Apple's online or brick-and-mortar stores, not official carrier outlets. In the case of AT&T, however, activating the iPad will tie the included Apple SIM to the carrier's network. It is unclear if Sprint and T-Mobile do the same.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 46
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,097member
    So I guess that means that, even if your phone is on AT&T, you don't every activate it on AT&T in the US. Just T-Mobile or Sprint.

    Dumb dumb dumb
  • Reply 2 of 46
    So what's the bloody point!?
  • Reply 3 of 46
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,423member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by chadbag View Post



    So I guess that means that, even if your phone is on AT&T, you don't every activate it on AT&T in the US. Just T-Mobile or Sprint.



    Dumb dumb dumb

    No, this article is about the SIMs in the latest iPads, not iPhones.

  • Reply 4 of 46
    droidftwdroidftw Posts: 1,009member
    Another great idea ruined by the cell carriers.
  • Reply 5 of 46

    so the whole bit about "if you travel" you may be able to switch to a local carrier is a lie, since ATT have 'dedicated' it, in other words, irreversibly programmed it only for their own networks - which ought to be illegal. It makes it a long term commitment after all, particularly for the SIM, i.e. lifetime

     

    Now its just like getting an ATT branded iPad, can only be used on their network. 

  • Reply 6 of 46
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,097member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mpantone View Post

     

    No, this article is about the SIMs in the latest iPads, not iPhones.




    I know, which is why I made the comment I did.  But I was not clear in my wording, for which I apologize.

     

    The comment makes the assumption that those with phones on AT&T would more likely, by default, want to activate the iPad on AT&T as well (I know I would probably default to that).  It was not clear as I used "it" in the activation part, meaning it, the iPad in the article, but the natural assumption was that it was referring to the iPhone.  Sorry about that.

  • Reply 7 of 46
    I think that Apple is making a super-major Microsoftian blunder by continuously trying to bend globally-used SIM cards to its will; I hope that European carriers refuse to go along with this.
  • Reply 8 of 46
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,097member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MarkyMark7 View Post



    I think that Apple is making a super-major Microsoftian blunder by continuously trying to bend globally-used SIM cards to its will; I hope that European carriers refuse to go along with this.



    How so?  What is "bad" about this?    It breaks the carrier lock-in and would seem to be good for the end user.

  • Reply 9 of 46
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post
    ---

    Apple Online Store: All supported carriers in that country

    Apple Retail Store: All supported carriers in that country

    Reseller: All supported carriers in that country

    Participating carrier store: Only the carrier from that carrier store

    Note: Sprint Stores will only carry iPads with legacy Sprint SIM cards (not Apple SIM cards).

    ---

    For now, those in the market for a new iPad may best be served by making the purchase through Apple's online or brick-and-mortar stores, not official carrier outlets. In the case of AT&T, however, activating the iPad will tie the included Apple SIM to the carrier's network. It is unclear if Sprint and T-Mobile do the same.

     

    On the one hand, it looks like it is best not to purchase your iPad from a carrier store (unless perhaps if they offer a really good deal). But is the article saying that if you activate on AT&T, you are tied to their network, even if you purchased elsewhere? That's cold.

  • Reply 10 of 46
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,985member
    chadbag wrote: »
    How so?  What is "bad" about this?    It breaks the carrier lock-in and would seem to be good for the end user.

    'Dedicated' is code for 'lock-in'.
  • Reply 11 of 46
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,097member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post





    'Dedicated' is code for 'lock-in'.



    And how does this relate to the statement I was replying to, which called Apple's multi-carrier SIM more or less bad ("microsoftian blunder trying to bend globally-used SIM cards to its will")?

  • Reply 12 of 46
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,985member
    But is the article saying that if you activate on AT&T, you are tied to their network, even if you purchased elsewhere? That's cold.

    How does this surprise you?
  • Reply 13 of 46
    runbuhrunbuh Posts: 315member
    On the one hand, it looks like it is best not to purchase your iPad from a carrier store (unless perhaps if they offer a really good deal). But is the article saying that if you activate on AT&T, you are tied to their network, even if you purchased elsewhere? That's cold.
    I believe the logic is that if you activate the SIM on the AT&T network, then the SIM is locked to AT&T. You can get a SIM from another carrier and use it in the iPad in place of the now-locked-to-AT&T SIM.
  • Reply 14 of 46
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,985member
    chadbag wrote: »

    And how does this relate to the statement I was replying to, which called Apple's multi-carrier SIM more or less bad ("microsoftian blunder trying to bend globally-used SIM cards to its will")?

    If we're to believe the article then there certainly is carrier lock-in.
  • Reply 15 of 46
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,097member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post





    If we're to believe the article then there certainly is carrier lock-in.



    I am not disputing that.  I just don't see the relationship to my comment.

  • Reply 16 of 46
    runbuhrunbuh Posts: 315member
    dasanman69 wrote: »
    If we're to believe the article then there certainly is carrier lock-in.
    What gets locked in? The SIM gets locked to AT&T, or the device gets locked to AT&T? I suspect the former. Other sites are saying the SIM gets locked. Big freakin' deal. Go get another SIM when you need to switch carriers.

    Edit: even this site clearly states that the SIM, not the device, is locked to AT&T. Reading comprehension skills are low on Friday night. Alcohol could be a factor.
  • Reply 17 of 46
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,985member
    runbuh wrote: »
    What gets locked in? The SIM gets locked to AT&T, or the device gets locked to AT&T? I suspect the former. Other sites are saying the SIM gets locked. Big freakin' deal. Go get another SIM when you need to switch carriers.

    Isn't the SIM built in, and non-swappable?
  • Reply 18 of 46
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Appleinsider
    "It is unclear if Sprint and T-Mobile do the same."



    It is NOT unclear..

    I have an iPad Air 2 from Apple.. I have switched between T-mobile and Sprint and back again.. They do NOT lock it if you buy it outright from Apple.

    I can understand AT&T locking it if we had some 'commitment' to hardware.. but we don't. Waiting for first Class Action against AT&T now.. 3... 2... 1...
  • Reply 19 of 46
    runbuhrunbuh Posts: 315member
    dasanman69 wrote: »
    Isn't the SIM built in, and non-swappable?
    No!

    From my brand new iPad Air 2:
    700
  • Reply 20 of 46
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,985member
    runbuh wrote: »
    No!

    Thanks for the clarification.
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