Opinion: For regular international travelers like myself, the death of the SIM tray in US iPhone 14 models creates a dilemma that cannot be easily resolved
Apple’s decision to ditch the SIM tray on US models has once again made me guess about the iPhone 14 upgrade. I live in the US and often travel back and forth to the UK for work and seeing friends and family. Part of my travel routine is to swap out my SIM cards when the plane lands.
The SIM card comes out from Verizon Wireless and goes to the three SIM for mobile PAYG as the plane approaches landing in the UK, and vice versa as it approaches the runway in Miami. I like to do it in the air because I want to tell everyone I landed safely ASAP. I’ve made the trip maybe 75 times in the last decade, but my mom is still anxious as you see her.
Buying an iPhone 14 powered by an eSIM will not only erase this rite of arrival in UK or US soil (which I kind of enjoy), but also create a headache.
Do I carry a second phone so I can continue to use my SIM card? It’s not the biggest pain, but then I won’t be able to use my flashy new iPhone 14 Pro Max for photos and videos. It could also mean that I can’t trade in my iPhone 12 Pro Max for a little upgrade. the problem.
What about an eSIM?
How about just registering an eSIM in the UK? After all, the iPhone 14 can support up to eight of them. Well, there is another hitch. According to its website, Three mobile does not currently offer eSIMs (unless you have a beta version), but says it is working on introducing them again soon. So, when this happens, I think I will be able to get one using my PAYG number.
Until then, it means registering with another provider. EE, Vodafone, O2 and Virgin offer eSIMs, but only as monthly payment options instead of PAYG (h/t 5G.co.uk). Well, the last thing I need is another 12-month renewable contract. Even then, I still had to go through the hassle of transferring my UK number to the new SIM.
What’s Next? Buying one of the prepaid eSIM data plans you get at the airport? This is fine for the majority of travelers who just want a little data to have during their vacation. (As an aside, Apple makes this process fully achievable by scanning a QR code in Settings, but people less tech-savvy will have nightmares trying to set an eSIM compared to a plug-and-play solution.)
For me, a prepaid eSIM means losing my UK number as people know they will get me to work or play – or God forbid – in an emergency.
Fourth option? Want to buy the iPhone 14 Pro in the UK as it still has a SIM tray? I could, I think, but I’d pay a lot for the privilege ($1099 versus £1,199 – thanks for not having a weak pound) and am concerned about potential cellular network compatibility issues in the country I’m in for nine months out of the year.
Finally, how about just using the international roaming offer from my US provider? No thank you. My wife does this and Verizon charges $10 a day for the privilege, absolute scammers.
Create trouble, not alleviate it
During the event yesterday, Apple showcased this as a feature that should ease some of the trouble for users, but for a small group of people it just creates some things that weren’t there.
I can see where the benefits from this will come from in the end. SIMs break and get lost, you need to carry an extra small gadget (or improvise with a paperclip) to access them, and they are very difficult to handle. Heaven knows how many times my insistence on playing it on the plane made me move around trying to find it under my seat.
In the end it will be fine, like the iPhone 14’s seamless design that no longer has a random bit of removable plastic under the side. Apple will be able to do more with the space, too, like giving us bigger batteries for the iPhone. Everything will work out in the end
This is like the iPhone 7 when the headphone jack fell by the wayside, before Bluetooth headphones were everywhere and we had to deal with the pain in the back of using another dongle. The problem here is that there will be no SIM tray dongles, so there is no middle ground. In time things will be fine, but they are not now.
I think I’ll stick with my old iPhone 12 Pro Max. Shame, I’m very fond of that dynamic island on the iPhone 14 Pro too…