Major US carriers don't support dual SIM at launch of iOS 12.1

Posted:
in iOS edited October 2018
Apple's new dual SIM feature, available with iPhone XS and XR models, was activated with iOS 12.1 on Tuesday, but the three biggest cellular carriers in the U.S. are not supporting the feature at launch.

IOS 12.1
iOS 12.1 update


Even though iPhone now supports dual SIM functionality, all three major U.S. carriers -- Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T -- currently do not. Apple's technology relies on a primary physical SIM card and a virtual eSIM, each of which can be set up as a separate line.

Verizon, the largest of the three, seems to have the biggest issues lying ahead, reports PCMag. Citing people familiar with the matter, the publication lists several limitations to Apple's solution.

Currently, when a Verizon account is added to the secondary SIM, it is downgraded to 2G CDMA functionality that lacks the ability to support MMS, let alone FaceTime or any other data-intensive tasks. Verizon also says that 30 percent of their cell sites are LTE-only, which means users would experience a significant coverage hit if support rolls out as is.

These drawbacks will be present until a fix can be implemented, something Verizon says it is working on with Apple.

"Based on our discussions with Apple, we believe these concerns will be resolved quickly and you should be able to add our great Verizon service on your secondary line before the end of the year," Verizon said in a statement. "Until the secondary line can deliver Verizon's full suite of voice and high-speed data services, we won't activate Verizon service on any eSIM. This includes our own customers' iPhones with dual SIM capabilities as well as iPhones on competitors' networks."

Once the issues are mitigated, Verizon will add support for dual SIM functionality to the iPhone for two simultaneous Verizon lines.

T-Mobile, too, says it is currently working on supporting the feature and will soon enable it once the software is ready. AT&T's official position on dual SIM is unclear, but MacRumors, citing a local store manager, reports the feature is not supported at this time.

Apple in September revealed its latest iPhone XS and XR models support dual SIM functionality, allowing owners to utilize two cellular plans on a single device without constantly swapping SIM cards. The solution is ideal for roaming out of the country or setting up work and personal numbers to both go to the same phone.

A common smartphone feature in Asian countries like China, dual SIM is less popular in the U.S., but its inclusion in the latest iPhones could boost adoption.

Dual SIM was not available when iPhone XS or XR launched in September and October, respectively, but was instead implemented in the newly released iOS 12.1 update.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    I’m in Canada but travel frequently to the UK. My Canadian provider (Fido) doesn’t support esim and from the sounds of things likely won’t. So I’d like a UK provider that does support esim for my “travel” line (currently with Vodafone Ireland as my travel used to primarily be there). I know EE was supposed to support it but I looks like they’ve had some setbacks. Vodafone UK hasn’t definitively said yet one way or the other that I can find. Does anyone know of a carrier in the UK that is or soon will be supporting esim?
  • Reply 2 of 15
    All three major carriers; Verizon, Sprint and AT&T.....give me a break....
    chabig
  • Reply 3 of 15
    ChadwiChadwi Posts: 2unconfirmed, member
    The only reason I upgraded my phone was for the dual sim feature. I assume the U.S. carriers are trying to figure out how they can make some money off of the sim activation. I'm willing to bet they are using compatibility issues as a delay tactic until they can find a way to break it off in our a$$
    magman1979xiao-zhi
  • Reply 4 of 15
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,296member
    Chadwi said:
    The only reason I upgraded my phone was for the dual sim feature. I assume the U.S. carriers are trying to figure out how they can make some money off of the sim activation. I'm willing to bet they are using compatibility issues as a delay tactic until they can find a way to break it off in our a$$
    Then maybe you should have researched this before you updated for the single reason of dual SIM. Duh.
    bonobobkimberlystantheman
  • Reply 5 of 15
    It sounds like this will be buggy for a while.  Frequently when you travel you go to a place less sophisticated than the US...

    There’s a good chance we’ll continue to swap sims for years.

    My current (several years old) IPad has an embedded Apple SIM+ a SIM slot.  T-Mobile struggled to support Apple SIM reliably so I was forced to go with a T-Mobile supplied SIM.

    What’s the difference between the Apple SIM and the eSIM?  My guess is Apple SIM was a failure, so they’re adopting a “standards” based format.

    Long term the duel SIM feature will be great, but it could be a while...
  • Reply 6 of 15
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,762member
    Chadwi said:
    The only reason I upgraded my phone was for the dual sim feature. I assume the U.S. carriers are trying to figure out how they can make some money off of the sim activation. I'm willing to bet they are using compatibility issues as a delay tactic until they can find a way to break it off in our a$$
    You are absolutely right.

    This is going to be a long, drawn-out, bloody battle, because the last thing the carriers want is an easy way for their customers to switch to other networks whenever they feel like it, which is where this is going to lead.

    Apple wants to make an iPhone that can switch to a different virtual networks instantly. They want to charge iPhone customers a tariff, and then have the phone switch to the best network in the area. Apple will then pay the networks based on usage … or whichever ones give them the best deal.

    The networks don't want their customers to have this choice because it puts Apple in control (and I can see why they wouldn’t want that). In order to attract the users, then the carriers would be forced to improve their networks, since Apple will simply drop them to the bottom of the queue if they find too many of their customers cannot link up to the network or have too many dropped calls.

    Apple will probably have to come up with its own 5G network to give them an edge in the negotiations. 

    Now, if only the had a network of buildings and premises in major town and city centres where they could put the equipment … 🤔
  • Reply 7 of 15
    The mobile phone carriers here are not supporting two-line service even if you purchase both lines from them — e.g., one phone number for personal calls and another for business. Profit maximizers could earn far larger profits by selling twice as much phone service per iPhone. This strongly suggest that the (temporary) delay in implementing two-line service is not a scheme by carriers to protect profits. The fact that two-line service is available in China does not help update U.S. infrastructure, billing software, existing customer contracts or government regulations.
    edited October 2018 xiao-zhi
  • Reply 8 of 15
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 2,175member
    Even though Verizon doesn't support dual sim here in the States, I can still use the feature overseas on my Verizon iPhone right? I don't really have a need for dual sim here. I just want to use it when I travel overseas. 
  • Reply 9 of 15
    Hello,

    Just wanted to let you know AT&T is indeed supporting eSIM on 12.1.
    My unlocked iPhone XS was migrated yesterday from a nano SIM chip to eSIM at the AT&T store.  
    There are various threads now on other sites that describe the process and if you show the people in the store, they can do it for you.  It cost a one-time $5, plus tax fee for the new "SIM" card - which had a QR code on it, that General > Cellular > Add Cellular Plan scanned and gobbled-up without a hitch.
    Following this, there are some options to re-enable (for example WiFi calling, iMessage reconnect to the phone number, etc.), once you make the eSIM primary and tell it to move your contacts to use that new SIM to contact them and it all seems to be working nicely and has left my SIM drawer empty and ready for my next overseas trip.

    edited October 2018 avon b7
  • Reply 10 of 15
    Well primary concern is why iPhone XR is not available as unlocked while it has dual SIM. It has been marketed not only for two lines, but for ability to use local carrier with additional SIM card. So I would think all of them should be unlocked and supported on by US carriers on eSIM and nanoSIM added (temporarily) right away giving choice. Some of us are with US carrier, but also have international number (yes it has been available for many years now) for cost efficiency when travelling and roaming agreements that can be optimized by that international service. I have been using it for fun and it is way less expensive then paying $20 for 1MB of data to Verizon... especially that CDMA is only in UK in Europe and some places may not even have LTE either. One of good scenarios of use was Waze in in eastern part of Europe (yes it works).
  • Reply 11 of 15
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,480member
    Rayz2016 said:
    Chadwi said:
    The only reason I upgraded my phone was for the dual sim feature. I assume the U.S. carriers are trying to figure out how they can make some money off of the sim activation. I'm willing to bet they are using compatibility issues as a delay tactic until they can find a way to break it off in our a$$
    You are absolutely right.

    This is going to be a long, drawn-out, bloody battle, because the last thing the carriers want is an easy way for their customers to switch to other networks whenever they feel like it, which is where this is going to lead.

    Apple wants to make an iPhone that can switch to a different virtual networks instantly. They want to charge iPhone customers a tariff, and then have the phone switch to the best network in the area. Apple will then pay the networks based on usage … or whichever ones give them the best deal.

    The networks don't want their customers to have this choice because it puts Apple in control (and I can see why they wouldn’t want that). In order to attract the users, then the carriers would be forced to improve their networks, since Apple will simply drop them to the bottom of the queue if they find too many of their customers cannot link up to the network or have too many dropped calls.

    Apple will probably have to come up with its own 5G network to give them an edge in the negotiations. 

    Now, if only the had a network of buildings and premises in major town and city centres where they could put the equipment … 🤔
    Not buying it.   Most users pay a fixed monthly price for service.   If you buy two services, that's better for the carriers.  If you're not using one network because you've temporarily switched to the other for whatever reason, the carrier couldn't care less - they still get their monthly fee.  In fact, you're doing them a favor because it reduces the first network's bandwidth requirements.    Apple charging iPhone customers a tariff?   If Apple wanted to be in the carrier business, they would have bought one long ago.   That ship has sailed.    Not happening.  

    In the end, who needs dual SIM?   Only people who travel extensively, especially out of the country (although when I travel, I simply sign up for an international plan with my carrier) and people who want both a business and personal phone number on the same phone, not that people are making that many actual phone calls anymore.   The iPhone already supports multiple email accounts and always has, so the dual SIM isn't needed for that.   
  • Reply 12 of 15
    Dual SIM is all about protecting China market share at this point. Asians have had dual SIM phones since the feature phone era and major Chinese phone makers have sold dual SIM smartphones in the domestic market for years. With Huawei and Oppo now seriously challenging IPhone on flagships, dual SIMs were a must have feature for this generation of phones. US carriers will resist but I think eventually Americans can enjoy this feature.
  • Reply 13 of 15
    Another subset of users who desire dual sim within the US are folks like me.   Urban / Rural dual use where one carrier is stronger in the population centers but much more spotty (or non existent) in various rural areas of personal or work importance.

    ive been carrying two iPhones (one att and one Verizon) on max data plans for a few years.  Not the unlimited plans with restricted tethering, but straight arrow plans.

    i look forward to the inevitable competition within the plan market once dual sims phones become more precedent.

    in the mean time I just want to carry one phone only.    The plans be damned!

    😎
  • Reply 14 of 15
    Here in Alaska the problems with any one carrier are significant in rural areas.  

    And even when when multiple carriers have stable service in a particular locale, the data speeds vary greatly!
  • Reply 15 of 15
    darkstar 0129348darkstar 0129348 Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    The key issue here is not eSIM vs. nano-SIM, vs. software.  The key problem is that the iPhone, like most Western cell phone devices, does not have two completely functional, FULL LTE radios.  The iPhone, just like many other true dual SIM devices (e.g. Microsoft / Nokia 950XL, HP Elite x3, various Android devices, etc.), has two 2G radios and only 1 LTE radio.  As such, only one SIM, whether eSIM or nano SIM, can be active on LTE at any one time.  The other, secondary SIM, is only for sending and receiving phone calls.

    This cannot be fixed through software without some major gymnastics (e.g. time-sharing of the sole LTE radio between the two SIM cards). As such, do not anticipate a "fix" for this any time soon.

    To truly fix this issue, cell phone manufacturers need to start creating phones that have two completely independent LTE radios that can each be accessed and used simultaneously by their own, dedicated SIM card.

Sign In or Register to comment.