How dual-SIM works with Apple's iPhone XS & XS Max

Posted:
in iPhone edited September 14
One of the new features of the iPhone XS and XS Max is dual-SIM support, which will let people wield two phone numbers on the same device. Here's how it works in countries where eSIM is available.

Apple iPhone XS

Setup

That's the first catch, of course: only 10 countries support Apple's eSIMs, namely Austria, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, India, Spain, the U.K., and the U.S. Even then carriers must offer compatibility too, and initially the only supporting U.S. carriers for the XS and XS Max will be AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Sprint is planning to back the technology, but doesn't yet have a date.

iPhone owners will also need an update to iOS 12 coming "later this year," and a carrier's official app or special QR code.

Many people will already have a nano-SIM card from their main carrier, in which case adding a second number involves adding a plan to the eSIM. If using a carrier app, the process is as simple as using that app to buy a plan -- in the case of a QR code, you have to open the Settings app, tap Cellular, then "Add Cellular Plan." You'll be presented with an option to scan your code.

Notably you'll be able to use the eSIM in place of a nano-SIM, whether for a single account or several, but you won't be able to have more than one eSIM account active at a time. For most people then, the best option will be to have a nano-SIM primary.

Once multiple plans are running, you'll be prompted to label them. There are preset options like "Primary," "Secondary," "Business," and "Travel," or you can simply create your own. To change a label later, you'll have to go into the Settings app's Cellular menu, tap the number you want to change, then Cellular Plan Label.

iOS 12 Dual-SIM labels


You'll also be asked to set a default number, which is critical since it will be the only one supporting the full range of cellular services. Secondary numbers can normally only field voice and SMS.

iOS 12 Dual-SIM lines


The exception is an option to relegate a secondary line to data only, which may be useful for traveling -- this will let people call or message you at your main number but avoid exorbitant roaming fees with a local SIM card. Be warned that in addition to voice and SMS, iMessage and FaceTime will still go to your primary, which could rack up data fees.

Making calls

iOS 12 Phone app


Once you've got things up and running, you can switch numbers before dialing in the Phone app by tapping the current one directly from the keypad, or else hitting the "i" button first when you're browsing Favorites. Picking an SMS number is similar, but you tap the number after starting a new conversation and selecting a contact.

Changing the line for iMessage and FaceTime is more complicated, as you have to go into Settings, Messages, and then iMessage & FaceTime Line. The selected choice is permanent until you reverse it.

There's one last thing to note, which is iOS 12's status bar info. You'll normally only see signal strength for one line at a time, but you can see how a secondary is doing by opening up Control Center.

iOS 12 Control Center


The first wave of preorders for the iPhone XS and XS Max is underway. Quick-trigger buyers should see their orders delivered Sept. 21.
dog1mike1
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 44
    Thanks for this.  I have been wondering how it would work, although it's one of those features I likely won't have a need for.

    My wife currently carries around 2 iPhones, 1 for work and 1 personal.  She would love to upgrade and use the eSIM for her work number but I imagine that won't go over well with work.  Her work iPhone is a managed device and I highly doubt they'll want her using her personal device for what she normally uses her work device for and basically losing control of if.  We'll see...
    mike1Soliwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 44
    Complicated as hell.Who needs this?
    Why can’t you just use a secondary dumb phone for abroad?
    williamlondonleehamm
  • Reply 3 of 44
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,347member
    Complicated as hell.Who needs this?
    Why can’t you just use a secondary dumb phone for abroad?
    Lots of people. Many non-Apple handsets have dual SIM capability including dumbphones.

    Especially in Europe, there are quite a few who cross borders on a regular basis, some do it twice a day for work.

    Plus there is the inconvenience of carrying around a second device. Let’s say you are traveling, take a photo on your fancy smartphone, then want to share the picture with loved ones. If your foreign SIM with the chesp data plan is on the dumbphone, it doesn’t facilitate matters.

     Remember your usage case isn’t the only one on this planet. Not everyone does the same thing as you.
    edited September 14 mike1bonobobdoggonewilliamlondonbb-15leehammmuthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 44
    aplnubaplnub Posts: 2,582member
    A replacement for Line2 on my iPhone. This is great news. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 44
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,374member
    Thanks for this.  I have been wondering how it would work, although it's one of those features I likely won't have a need for.

    My wife currently carries around 2 iPhones, 1 for work and 1 personal.  She would love to upgrade and use the eSIM for her work number but I imagine that won't go over well with work.  Her work iPhone is a managed device and I highly doubt they'll want her using her personal device for what she normally uses her work device for and basically losing control of if.  We'll see...
    My iPhone is a work phone with an onerous profile on it. iCloud services, for example, are not available. Apple Music only works with music downloaded to the device.  I can’t see them enabling a second number anyway, but what is the point, it would still have the same profile on it.

    using a personal device for work wouldn’t solve anything, no doubt your wife would have to agree to having their profile on her device to access work.

    i would have liked a new well featured SE so I could carry a second, smaller personal phone to get around the profile problem.
  • Reply 6 of 44
    Complicated as hell.Who needs this?
    Why can’t you just use a secondary dumb phone for abroad?
    I travel to China a lot and the reality is, if you want to call, message, and most importantly pay with WeChat in China you need to have a local sim... This either disables my US number/SIM or I have to carry around two phones, which in China status is important, so you best be carrying two of the latest iPhones! So I carry one iphone but have two sims, which is a pain! This would solve my problems... HOWEVER, being that the China version of the iPhone Max will allow 2 sim chips, I'm going to wait to buy that one, so while in EU, I just swap sims. Yes, multiple sims is a pain but it's better to have a local sim than paying $.25/min (or in my case, while in Andorra $1.25/min with no data!). So yes there are many use cases with this. For my "dual" number US situation I own my company and don't want to carry two phones, so I have a virtual number that if it's business it forward to my actual number but caller ID is my company name. So I answer in my company name. I do have to go online to get their caller ID if I need it... which is a pain, this would solve that! For that matter, I would be able to get 4 numbers!
    mike1watto_cobrasteveau
  • Reply 7 of 44
    So people think about dual SIM's being for 2 countries.  But what about if I have an ATT and a TMobile plan in the US and want to use both on one phone? 

    Wouldn't / couldn't I use an XS Max and have ATT be my primary and TM be my secondary?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 44
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,374member
    I would be interested to know if you can use one of those data only sims that are sold for iPad as one of the sims?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 44
    Can Apple get rid of that cute sh... indent in the screen? It is really garbage in display. I can imagine my wife obsuring part of TV during major game. Same outcome.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 10 of 44
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,931member
    Complicated as hell.Who needs this?
    Why can’t you just use a secondary dumb phone for abroad?
    Personal phone and company provided phone....what about that.? Many companies offer employees a business phone for security purposes. 
  • Reply 11 of 44
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,931member
    Can Apple get rid of that cute sh... indent in the screen? It is really garbage in display. I can imagine my wife obsuring part of TV during major game. Same outcome.
    What indent? Don’t tell me you meant the Notch!
    kuduwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 44
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,408member
    Thanks for this.  I have been wondering how it would work, although it's one of those features I likely won't have a need for.

    My wife currently carries around 2 iPhones, 1 for work and 1 personal.  She would love to upgrade and use the eSIM for her work number but I imagine that won't go over well with work.  Her work iPhone is a managed device and I highly doubt they'll want her using her personal device for what she normally uses her work device for and basically losing control of if.  We'll see…
    This looks very well thought out.
  • Reply 13 of 44
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,408member
    Can Apple get rid of that cute sh... indent in the screen? It is really garbage in display. I can imagine my wife obsuring part of TV during major game. Same outcome.
    LOL Wut?! So instead of having a big ol' chin and forehead Apple has used as much of the display as possible with the Status Bar taking the only real hit as it can't show as much data because they don't want to extend it into an area where you can have 90° corners along the side edges.

    If you're watching a "major game" or any other video on your iPhone a simple double-tap will size it to fit exactly within Apple's Safe Area (which means 90° corners) which is still more area because it's a wider aspect ratio fo the same height (in landscape mode) display than on it's comparable iPhone 6 through 8 series size.

    As for being cute, we don't have the same definition of the word. I don't see it as "attractive in a pretty or endearing way." I'd rather it not be there or be minimized as the technology allows, but we're talking about the True Depth technology that needs to face forward. It's a specific function that is creating that form and you Gai more display on the sides instead of having a forehead. How is that a bad thing?

    PS: You didn't anything about the round rounded  removing some of the display, which is on the iPhone X/XS/XR display, the Series 4 Watch, and will surely be coming to other Apple products as the cost of the technology allows.
    edited September 14
  • Reply 14 of 44
    I've been using dual sims in my iPhones for a while now. Using my T-Mobile while in the US and an Orange sim in Europe. Switching back and forth when needed using a simple software button that automatically shows up using https://www.magic-sim.com's hardware adapter.

    We see once my Max arrives and after Apple updates v12 if e-sim makes it better.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 44
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,408member
    tzmmtz said:
    I've been using dual sims in my iPhones for a while now. Using my T-Mobile while in the US and an Orange sim in Europe. Switching back and forth when needed using a simple software button that automatically shows up using https://www.magic-sim.com's hardware adapter.

    We see once my Max arrives and after Apple updates v12 if e-sim makes it better.
    It's a nice after-market solution that is easier than having to carry a SIM tray tool, multiple SIMs freely, and switch them, but it's not easier than a proper eSIM solution. I wonder how that affects the waterproofing, and it seems to force you to use a case (which I don't) so that you don't rip the ribbon cable. It also looks like it can only be connected to one SIM card at a time.



    One day, not too long from now, I hope that we'll be able to have to auto-switch (or ask) as we switch cell towers or geofences (like when you're in the US v Europe), be able to carry more than just 2 SIMs in our device since it'll all be stored on a secure chip and it's a ridiculously small amount of data, and I hope that there will be a BT, QR Code, NFC and/or other method for transferring the data.

    For instance, say you land in France for a 2 week trip and you need a phone number and data. You could walk into countless stores and just like getting a gift card that's rung up at the register for the amount you want where it's activated you could do so with an eSIM card that will have a QR Code on the paper that you can then scan into your phone by going to Settings » Cellular » Add eSIM where you'll then get an option to use the camera to add it.
    edited September 14
  • Reply 16 of 44
    A nice potential use for this solution could be to have a secondary account that is used primarily for data and switch between the two for coverage and data cap purposes.   For example: TMobile has less coverage but I’ve found their network to be faster in our local area than Verizon and AT&T.  

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 44
    Soli said:
    tzmmtz said:
    I've been using dual sims in my iPhones for a while now. Using my T-Mobile while in the US and an Orange sim in Europe. Switching back and forth when needed using a simple software button that automatically shows up using https://www.magic-sim.com's hardware adapter.

    We see once my Max arrives and after Apple updates v12 if e-sim makes it better.
    It's a nice after-market solution that is easier than having to carry a SIM tray tool, multiple SIMs freely, and switch them, but it's not easier than a proper eSIM solution. I wonder how that affects the waterproofing, and it seems to force you to use a case (which I don't) so that you don't rip the ribbon cable. It also looks like it can only be connected to one SIM card at a time.



    One day, not too long from now, I hope that we'll be able to have to auto-switch (or ask) as we switch cell towers or geofences (like when you're in the US v Europe), be able to carry more than just 2 SIMs in our device since it'll all be stored on a secure chip and it's a ridiculously small amount of data, and I hope that there will be a BT, QR Code, NFC and/or other method for transferring the data.

    For instance, say you land in France for a 2 week trip and you need a phone number and data. You could walk into countless stores and just like getting a gift card that's rung up at the register for the amount you want where it's activated you could do so with an eSIM card that will have a QR Code on the paper that you can then scan into your phone by going to Settings » Cellular » Add eSIM where you'll then get an option to use the camera to add it.
    Agreed, the e-sim should make this experience much better. Correct on the one sim at a time and you need a case. But better then current,  having to remove sim each time to switch.
  • Reply 18 of 44
    mpantone said:
    Complicated as hell.Who needs this?
    Why can’t you just use a secondary dumb phone for abroad?
    Lots of people. Many non-Apple handsets have dual SIM capability including dumbphones.

    Especially in Europe, there are quite a few who cross borders on a regular basis, some do it twice a day for work.

    Plus there is the inconvenience of carrying around a second device. Let’s say you are traveling, take a photo on your fancy smartphone, then want to share the picture with loved ones. If your foreign SIM with the chesp data plan is on the dumbphone, it doesn’t facilitate matters.

     Remember your usage case isn’t the only one on this planet. Not everyone does the same thing as you.
    Exactly.
  • Reply 19 of 44
    Can Apple get rid of that cute sh... indent in the screen? It is really garbage in display. I can imagine my wife obsuring part of TV during major game. Same outcome.
    Welcome to 2017. 

    Now, grapple with reality and get on with it. Or find some other phone to use, and spare us the angst. 
    bb-15
  • Reply 20 of 44
    Soli said:
    Thanks for this.  I have been wondering how it would work, although it's one of those features I likely won't have a need for.

    My wife currently carries around 2 iPhones, 1 for work and 1 personal.  She would love to upgrade and use the eSIM for her work number but I imagine that won't go over well with work.  Her work iPhone is a managed device and I highly doubt they'll want her using her personal device for what she normally uses her work device for and basically losing control of if.  We'll see…
    This looks very well thought out.
    Ha! Did you forget the sarcasm tag?

    I’ll admit, I probably could have fleshed that out a little more. 

    In short, the company my wife works for issues her an iPhone. It has a profile installed and she doesn’t get a lot of control over what she can do, like install apps. They use their MDM to install the apps they want her to have, can wipe it remotely, etc. 

    She doesn’t love carrying around 2 devices, 1 work, 1 personal and would love to have a dual SIM phone to eliminate one. But I don’t see much of a compromise between her having the freedom she’s used to in a personal phone and the level of lock-down her company has on the work phone. So, as much as she would like carrying one phone I doubt it will happen anytime soon. And I imagine there are many people in a similar situation. 

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying a dual SIM phone is useless, quite on the contrary really. It just wouldn’t work in her scenario. 
    edited September 14
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